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Fic: No Small Injury, Chapter One of Nine

My small but perfectly formed flist may have heard me go on about a multi-part sequel to Wrong Turn. This is it! There will be mystery, action, suspense, cliffhangers, chapter illustrations, hopefully a few lulz and of course, buckets of sexual tension. This is also a sequel to Fight On, Second Lieutenant!, because Havoc and Rebecca won't leave my brain alone. Not necessary to read either before you read this fic, but if you're curious about how Havoc ended up back in the army and fraternising with Rebecca, do look up the latter.

No Small Injury, Chapter One: the Way to a Man's Heart

Setting: Fullmetal Alchemist, mangaverse, post-series so potential spoilers right up to Chapter 98. Practically guaranteed to be jossed. 
Roy/Ed (UST and subtext, I'm afraid), Havoc/Rebecca Catalina, Al, Hawkeye, ensemble.
Warnings: R for blood and guts, and for sweary mouths. Sadly smut-free.
Word count: 5987 words this chapter.
Summary: two years on from the Promised Day. Amestris is an unstable and changeable place. Mustang's faction is locked in a fierce, nominally legal power struggle with Hakuro's, and the Amestrian Army is one gunshot away from a civil war. Now it looks like someone may have fired that shot. Meanwhile, Alphonse is on the verge of a discovery, Mustang could really use some sleep, and Rebecca and Havoc totally aren't getting any work done. Perhaps more worryingly still, the Fullmetal Alchemist is bored, heartbroken and at a loose end.
Notes: Illustrated fic is illustrated (by me). Many, many thanks to my ace beta enemytosleep. If you're currently trying to remember who Rebecca is, we first meet her in Ch. 83 of the manga, here


Never do an enemy a small injury.
         - Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

Oh dear Lord, this was absolutely criminal. Seriously, in whose book was past twenty two hundred on a Friday night a reasonable time to finish work? Rebecca looked over from the clock to her boss's desk. She could just about see the jackass through the gaps between stacks of red files. He wasn't even writing, for heaven's sake, just staring straight through a document and chewing on the end of his pencil. Seriously, man, when you've read it four times and it's not sinking in, it's time to clock off and hit up a steakhouse.

When she'd got the post-coup transfer to Mustang's new department, she'd been stoked. Political shenanigans were fun, they would be manoeuvring on the side of righteousness, she had held unrealistic hopes that Riza would let her get away with stuff, and it didn't hurt that the brigadier general himself was pretty easy on the eyes. She'd changed her mind about that last one after he'd made her pull two all-nighters in her first week. The hotness, it was invisible to her now. To think that after nearly two years of this, he'd promised them all - lying dick! - that things were going to ease off now they'd taken on new staff, they'd be pleased to hear that he was going to be asking less of them and thank you for bearing with all of this blah blah blah. The rest of those chumps might be buying it, but she knew one of those guys when she saw one, and Mustang was so one of those guys.

To make matters worse - or perhaps just to rub it in - her boyfriend had been allowed to clock off at four in order to take some dubious fat cat to dinner, off the record but on the expense account, to schmooze him into giving their parliamentary faction a wad of dough in a brown envelope. Rebecca had offered to add her persuasive powers to the mix ("I can wear that dress with the little skirt and the lace cut-outs!") but Mustang had just narrowed his eyes and nixed it before Jean could even get half a sentence out. Well, Jean and his new best buddy had better not hit up a strip club. If he did, she'd know the minute she eyeballed him and asked. For a professional perpetrator of sketchy deals, Jean was such a crappy liar, the sweetheart.

Well, she'd be damned if she was still going to be here at midnight. None of this shit was going to get finished, and she had to turn up the next morning anyway (Saturday morning! When decent citizens were supposed to be sleeping, having leisurely sex, then eating bacon sandwiches with ketchup!). So yeah, she was done for the night. She stopped typing right in the middle of her sentence, wiggled her fingers to get the cramps out, and then marched over to Mustang's desk and snapped him a salute which she hoped had at least a tiny hint of sarcasm to it.

"Sir? Permission to finish up for tonight? I know the plan was to finish up this analysis today, but there's way more to it than I thought, and I'm gonna make much better headway after a night's sleep." It was kind of cheeky, but if Mustang had any redeeming qualities as a commanding officer, it was that he was usually okay with cheeky.

He didn't even look up properly, just waved a hand and said, "yes, yes, dismissed, Captain," then went straight back to whatever it was he was failing to read.

Nicely weaselled, Rebecca congratulated herself. With a lighter heart, she locked up her desk and collected her bag, already fantasising about deli food and a big glass of red wine, to be taken slumped in her armchair.

By the time she'd gotten her coat on she'd realised in resignation that really, she just wanted to fall straight into her bed the minute she got in the door. Damn you, Mustang, she cursed. First, he'd hijacked her leisure hours and destroyed her dating opportunities. Then, when she'd fallen for his tricks and started fraternizing with a fellow prisoner of the office, he posted her new man off to enjoy fillet steak and guy talk for the good of the revolution, leaving her to type report after report until her fingers bled and she lost the will to live. Such an ass. Rebecca really wished she didn't love democracy so much.


The metro had been full of people who, for the most part, were younger, drunker and cheerier than her. So by the time Rebecca was walking up to her own front door, her mood was even worse than it was before. At least the light was on under the door. Her flatmate, Katie, could get in a real snit if you woke her up coming in late.

She pulled her keys from her coat pocket, rattled through them, and picked out the right one. She looked up. Huh. The door was open. No wait, it wasn't just open, it was wrenched open. The doorframe was splintered, the deadbolt ripped out. Oh crap, oh crap. Tonight just had to be the night she interrupted a burglar, didn't it?

Rebecca pulled in a breath, forced herself to feel the adrenaline pulsing through her body. She let her mind settle down calm, getting into the zone. She reached behind her back, unholstering her sidearm. She hoped Katie - who so wouldn't have cut it in the army, bless her - was out on some parliamentary jolly, or had at least had the common sense to hide under her duvet quaking. She pointed her gun upwards and cocked it, kicked the door open, and moved in. Her gun out in both hands, she moved slowly round in a semi-circle, taking in the scene. The hall was empty and quiet. There was blood all over the floor. Someone had laid tea towels down over it, but there was more blood there than towels. Had she got this wrong? Had Katie had some kind of klutzy accident, and then had to get ambulance guys to break down the door?

The biggest bloodstain was a fat, messy trail soaking through the towels leading between the living room and the bathroom. Rebecca moved across the hall and through the open living room doorway on the balls of her feet. This room, too, was empty. There was a smashed lamp, an overturned bookcase. The blood started at a foot-wide stain on the carpet. Oh hell. Rebecca sprinted back, threw open the bathroom door, her gun out and ready.

Inside, Katie, her annoying, high-maintenance flatmate, Katie, Katie who'd put a bee in her purse when they were six, was lying in the bath tub with a bone-white face and a blood-soaked towel over her chest. She looked up at Rebecca dozily. Rebecca sucked in a breath, tried to unfreeze her brain. She spoke quietly. "Are they still in the apartment?"

Katie furrowed her brow and thought for a moment. Then she said calmly, "No ... I think he left. Did I make a mess? I put towels...I'm gonna lose us our deposit." She suddenly sounded wobbly and anxious, as if she was about to cry. Rebecca felt sick.

"Okay, listen up. I'm going to check the rest of the apartment, and then I'm coming back here and I'm calling you an ambulance. Hold tight, all right?" She tried to give Katie a perky grin, though it probably only scared the poor girl: Rebecca's reassuring face sucked ass and she knew it.

It only took a moment to check the rest of the flat: two small bedrooms, the broom closet, and the living room again, just to be sure no one had snuck back. Okay. She holstered her gun, raced back into the bathroom, put a hand to the side of Katie's throat. Her pulse felt crazy fast under Rebecca's hand.Without looking at her, Katie said quietly, "I already called them. The ambulance. I called them after he left. Then I came in here." She was wheezing. God, it sounded nasty.

Rebecca gave her another crappy, unconvincing grin. "Then we'll wait for them. Do you remember how long it's been?"

Katie looked up at Rebecca and shook her head.

"Okay, I'm gonna take a look at this; see if we can do something about the bleeding. Did this asshole stab you?"

Katie creaked, "I got shot."

Shit. Gently, Rebecca peeled off the soaked tea towel, dropping it on the floor. Katie was wearing a thin blouse underneath, so sopping wet with blood that it was difficult to tell where it had all come from.

Rebecca pulled out her army pocketknife, carefully cut off the buttons, then peeled open the shirt. There was a round little hole on the lower left of Katie's chest, which was seeping blood slowly. Had it hit her lung, was that why she was wheezing like that?

Rebecca thought back to procedure, and carried on looking. There was another entry wound down by Katie's belly button. This one was bleeding worse. Oh God, this was just unreal. How the fuck was this war zone shit happening in her own apartment, to her nice-girl, pansy-ass politician roomie? Since when did burglars in Central start carrying handguns anyway? Weren't they all meant to be pimply fifteen-year-old boys with switchblades? She grabbed a hand towel, folded it a couple times and pressed it firmly down, one hand over either wound. Katie made a miserable little sound in her throat.

Now what was the next thing? Right, next you were supposed to keep the person talking. Okay, and the police, she'd need to tell them what had happened once Katie was in hospital getting all those holes sewn up. "Katie? Can you tell me what happened?"

For a moment, Katie didn't respond. She just pursed her lips and frowned hard, as if she was chewing it over. Or maybe she was just in pain. Two holes in your front, that had to hurt like crazy. Well, she imagined it would anyway; somehow, Rebecca had managed to get through her career so far without being shot.

Then Katie spoke, her voice soft and croaky. "I was making cheese noodles." She wasn't looking at Rebecca. Instead she was staring straight ahead of her, up to the ceiling and right through it. Her face was calm and dopey. "I drained the noodles and I went to the icebox. And then I got out the butter and the cheese." She sounded like she was trying to work out where she'd misplaced her keys or something. "Then I went to get the cheese grater, and I turned around, and there was a man standing right there in the living room."

Rebecca pictured it. Their kitchen was actually a tiny corner of the living room, partly blocked off by the icebox and a corner of internal wall. When someone was rummaging in the icebox, you couldn't see them from the living room, but then when Katie had turned around...but how the hell hadn't she heard the guy break in?

"What happened then? He just shot you?"

"Yeah. It was so funny, we just looked at each other...for the longest time. Then I came up to him, and I said -" She paused, leaned forward a bit and stayed there, breathing hard. There was a bit of blood on her mouth. Rebecca looked at her watch.

Katie started up again. "I said - "God, I thought you were a burglar or something" - because I thought you must have brought him home or something -" Rebecca bristled a bit at that. She had a boyfriend! She knew Katie not-so-secretly thought she was a slut, but seriously, now was so not the time. "And then he got out a gun, and - he shot me."

"Do you know what happened to the bookcase? Did you fall on it?"

"No - he moved stuff - after-" Katie was starting to look really, really bad. She'd sunk back again against the wall of the tub now, and she was rasping and sucking air like she was breathing through cloth. Shit, where was this supposed ambulance? Did they forget the meaning of Emergency Services? What were they doing, stopping for donuts?

"Do you remember what he looked like?" Rebecca regretted the words as soon as they were out of her mouth, because Katie so obviously wasn't up to a response anymore. Katie screwed her face up in concentration, grabbed the side of the tub, and tried to pull in air and push out words, but it was all just croaking and horrible, wet sounds.

"Stop! Calm down, calm down. It's okay, just breathe."

Katie obeyed her instantly, like a little kid. She lay back and most of the tension went out of her face, but as for just breathing – that wasn’t going so well. Rebecca sat with her, listening for the knock at the door.

Rebecca had never been a patient woman. After a minute or two of silence, Katie's rattling breaths and a complete lack of ambulance crew sprinting into the apartment, she couldn't take it any more.

"Katie? I'm just gonna call the ambulance people. I'll be five seconds, okay?"

Rebecca sprinted the few steps to the phone in the hallway, and had the ambulance service dialled up before she'd even remembered the number. She was speaking the moment she heard the phone pick up. "Hey. Can you tell me what time the ambulance is getting to Holyhead Mansions, 415 Krugman?"

"What's the nature of the medical emergency?"

"No, no, my friend called the ambulance already. It's supposed to be on its way, and she has two gunshot wounds, and we need it to be here, like now."

"At what time did your friend make the call?"

"I don't know - maybe a half hour ago? It was before I got here. Just check - and, can you radio, can you get them to hurry it up? I don't want to leave her long."

"Let me check the card index for you." There were shuffling noises as the operator left her seat. In the background, Rebecca could hear the murmurs of the other operators in the room, busy on their own calls. Come on people, come on. What part of gunshot wounds - wounds! As in more than one! - were they not understanding?

There was a crackling on the line, and the operator was back. "Ma'am? I'm afraid we don't have any record of such a call."

Rebecca felt her brain freeze solid for a second. Then it unfroze in a flash of rage.

"What the fuck? She called, she called. Check again!" She had called, right? This better not be like that time Katie swore she'd paid the gas bill and the whole time the envelope had been stuck down the side of the gramophone.

"There's no need for profanity," said the voice down the phone, all prissy.

Rebecca laughed short and hard. "Are? You sending me a god-damn" - she rolled out the curse word slower - "ambulance?"

"An emergency vehicle is already on its way to you now, ma'am."

Without acknowledging the operator, Rebecca slammed the phone receiver back in its cradle, hard. Then she lifted it back up and dialled Riza's flat. After a few rings, someone picked up. She didn't even bother to see if it was her. Instead, she barked, "Riza, get a freaking ambulance to my house. Katie's shot. The ambulance guys are morons." Then she hung up.

Done with the calls, she wandered back into the bathroom on shaky legs. Katie was still exactly as Rebecca had left her, staring at the ceiling, hands in her lap and that horrible, shocky, don't-care look on her face. Rebecca reached in, squeezed her hand. Katie ignored her, so Rebecca squeezed harder, and put a hand up to stroke her face. Then she realised.



At 0630, Roy found Riza standing in uniform by the park's pavilion with pink, sleepy eyes and two paper cups of coffee. Roy smiled as he approached, and waved his bag of almond pastries at her. They started walking deeper into the trees. After a couple of minutes, they found a clearing, perched on a log, and swapped a pastry for a coffee. It was a glorious spring morning. The skies were clear and the early morning sunlight was bright. There was a little breeze, and a slight chill still hanging in the air. It was too goddamn early.

Riza blew on the surface of her coffee, took a sip, and got started. "Katherine Flowers, thirty-two years of age. She's - she was - a parliamentary civil servant. She ran the Speaker's Office for him. She was also a rising politician herself. The Progressive Republic Party listed her as a prospective parliamentary candidate for next year."

"Ah. So she was one of ours. I was trying to remember where I'd heard her name. This coffee needs to kick in. How did she come to be sharing a flat with Captain Catalina?"

"School friends. And Rebecca is like you about officers' quarters, she hates to live at work. I knew Katie through Rebecca, a little. I also gather that there was a certain amount of helping each other out career-wise, which is part of the reason I think we should pay attention to this. The police officers I spoke to told me they thought Katie had interrupted a burglar. Violent robberies are getting pretty common, these days ..." Riza paused, collecting her thoughts. "However, this is something I think we might want to look into ourselves discreetly. It's possible that either Katie or Rebecca could have been the intended target."

"So your theory is, this might have been deliberate murder disguised as a burglary? And that it's possible that Ms. Flowers was murdered by mistake?"

"Those are both possibilities, yes."

"Then should we also be considering that it may have been a burglary, but of a more targeted and specific kind?"

"To steal information or documents, you mean? I hope to God that Rebecca hasn't been taking anything home with her from the office."

Roy raised an eyebrow. "So do I. If Catalina's been that idiotic, it'll have been a real failure of judgement on my part. I brought her on board, I gave her my trust, I put up with her and Havoc mooning at each other across the office and sneaking off like kids ..." He sighed. It was just too early in the morning. "So, of course you're not just guessing about this. What exactly made you think there's more to it than a random break-in?"
"Rebecca says Katie claimed to have called an ambulance after the burglary, but then when she telephoned to check, the ambulance service had no record of the call. So I woke Fuery up and got him to check the exchange. A call was placed from their telephone to the ambulance service at 2139." She paused for a beat. "Rebecca arrived home at 2247."

Roy tipped his head back for a moment and took a breath of the crisp, grassy morning air. "If someone interfered with the call, or with the service themselves, in order to prevent Ms. Flowers from gaining medical attention...that would imply they were planning for her death."

Riza nodded, pursing her lips for a moment. "You're right. If that's true, we're looking at intentional murder, although the intended target could have been either of them, given Katie Flowers' political career. Ah - it couldn't just have been planned as a document theft, then. I wasn't considering that. I'm rather tired ... I should be focusing better than this."

Roy smiled at her, ruefully. "We're both tired. We're all tired. This is appallingly timed." He took a gulp of his cooling coffee and thought for a moment. "Also, if they didn't check they had the right woman, that would make them pretty incompetent."

Riza gave him one of her wry little smiles. "If every troublemaker was competent, Brigadier General, we'd be getting even less sleep."

Roy smirked back. They sat side by side for a few moments, eating their pastries and looking into the trees. Roy finished his, brushed the crumbs from his trousers, and sank the rest of his coffee. "So," he said. "This business of the ambulance. If your reasoning is correct, that this was a political killing, the order would have had to come from high up."

"Yes. If we're right, this is the brass."

"Ah." And now he saw the whole thing. With things as precarious as they were, one political murder, whether it was of a parliamentarian or an officer, could be enough for the military to start tearing itself apart. A single spark ... and it wouldn't necessarily have to be someone important. Like Ishbal. "So, we're one gunshot from a civil war. If someone from Hakuro's faction fired that shot, for whatever reason ..."

"-And whether or not they were acting with his knowledge-"

"...Then we need to know about it, and know why. Best case scenario, we can get some real leverage over Hakuro out of this. But the worst case ..." Roy didn't finish, just puffed out a breath that made his chest ache tightly, and looked sidelong at Riza.

She'd crumpled her paper bag into a little ball in her hand. She turned towards him a little, and nodded, her jaw clenched.

It was much, much too early in the morning. Why did it have to be like this? The coups he'd read about - well, researched, to be honest - all seemed to begin and end quick and dirty. Seize the military, the communications, the banks, put out a radio announcement, and be swivelling round in the big chair by lunchtime. This is what he got for trying to do things bloodlessly. Political murders, deals upon deals, machinations, endless piles of morally dubious bullshit to wade through, and all this before he even got to the top. He had to admit, Olivia Armstrong had had a good point about these things after all. Misguided, dogmatic, morally abhorrent - but still, a point.


Wheat beer was sour, but in a good way, Alphonse decided. He took another sip from his bottle, then put it down, lacing his fingers around it. The bottle was cold from the bar's icebox, and wet with condensation. God, it was such a warm evening out for April. Didn't it normally get chillier than this at night during spring? He tried to think back, but couldn't remember. It had been so long since he'd felt spring rather than just seen it. He could feel the bottle's label against his palm; the paper felt softer and warmer than the glass. The beer was citrusy, that was it, the sourness was a little bit like lemon. The chill of it slipped all the way down his throat.

He smiled a bit, and ran a fingernail round the edge of the label. It was peeling back away from the bottle, and still crisp. The exposed edge felt a little sharp under his nail. What did a papercut feel like? Did it hurt a lot? People always seemed to make a fuss over them.

An explosive clap sounded right behind his left ear. He jerked and whirled around in his seat. Immediately, he overbalanced and tipped backwards - arms cartwheeling uselessly, catching hold of nothing - and landed straight on to the sawdusty floor while his asshole brother laughed and laughed in his face.

"So, you're still zoning out, huh? Seriously, you need to stop doing that." Ed put down his suitcase, popped himself up onto the next stool, and raised a pointed arm in a dramatic pose. "In these uncertain times, danger lurks everywhere! I knock you on your ass for your own good. This is teaching!"

The last argument might not have worked for most people, but Ed and Al's notions of the learning experience had very strong associations of violence attached. Al imagined that if the university ever landed him that after-school tuition work they'd been threatening, that this could turn into a problem.

After he'd climbed back onto his stool, Al smiled at the bartender and waggled his bottle, motioning for another wheat beer. At least Ed seemed to be in a good mood, which was a rare thing these days. He said, "So, I quite like this place. They do all these strange kinds of beer, and there's kind of a funny mix of people. And some of the people are cute girls."

Ed looked around, taking in the tiny old lady at the end of the bar, the bowler-hatted businessmen, the off-duty builders in one corner and the gaggle of fashionable university students in another. "It seems better than the Three Crowns, that's for sure." The Three Crowns was their local, but they'd made a pact to hate it after Ed had sent a spoiled beer back and the trendy, snotty barman had accused them both of being underage. Well, Al technically had been underage at the time, but only by about three weeks. It hardly seemed fair. Ed took a sip from the fresh bottle that was placed before him, then scrunched up his face. "This beer tastes like lemon juice."

"I think it's supposed to. The barman says they just got it in for the summer."

"Well, it's weird. But hey, at least their icebox has ice in it. That puts them one up from that dump down the street."

Al laughed, and took a swig of his weird lemon-beer. "So, how was the thing in Yarvil?" Al felt a pang of guilt as he asked. He had originally meant to go along with Ed, but his research was getting so close to a breakthrough now, and it had pulled him away.

"Crappy. And pointless. You were totally right not to come. At least this way only one of us was insanely bored for five days."

Al tried not to look guilty, and knew instantly that he'd failed. His face still just seemed to crack expressions without asking him first. He needed to practice this more.

Ed took his beer and saluted the air. "One more month! Only thirty more days of this military bullshit, then I'm free!" He took a sip. "And when my contract is up, I am gonna march into Mustang's office, I'm gonna slap this" - he tugged his pocket watch chain -"down on his desk, and I'm gonna say-"

"We are both going to walk into his office, and we are going to thank the man, properly. We couldn't have done it without him, Ed. So I'm not going to let you be an ass about it." This had to be the fifth time they'd had this conversation already.

He couldn't have done it without us either. We're quits! No, in fact, I do still owe him something, because in fact, he hasn't even done what he's supposed to yet." Ah, the 520 cenz. Despite the fact that he understood full well the situation with Hakuro and the schism in the military, Ed had seemed to take it personally that Mustang wasn't yet Fuhrer.

Should Al mention that Winry had called? No, he'd better not. Ed would be rattled, and he wouldn’t want to show it, and they would end up awkwardly going over the whole relationship thing again, which Ed didn't want to talk about and Al kind of didn't want to talk about either. Especially after Winry had already poured her heart out to him for two hours on the phone earlier that day.

It had been the same conversation he'd had with her several times over the last couple of months, and he was sure this wouldn't be the last time either. Did Al hate her now? Of course he didn’t, she was family. Did he think she and Ed could ever be friends again? Of course they would, they were family, right? She didn’t want to be with him like that again, no way, but she really missed him, did Al get that? Of course he did – both parts of it. Why did Ed and her have to screw everything up? Well, jeez, Al didn’t know. Because they’d been sweet on each other for years and even a haunted lump of iron could tell something was bound to happen sometime? Because life was complicated like that? Because his brother could be an insensitive dick?

Al hadn’t said most of these things. Instead he had spent most of the call saying "oh" and "mm" in different tones of voice, wishing he could just hug Winry over the phone instead. Al felt helpless, and he hated that. Ed was the only person who could really reassure Winry that they were going to get through this weird, horrible, heartbreak phase, and that one day soon they’d be friends again. But persuading Ed to call her was proving about as amicable and straightforward as the current state of Amestrian politics. Al suspected that Ed was just as worried and sad as Winry, but knew full well that he wouldn’t want to do a "lame girl thing" like talk it through.

In fact, Ed sorely needed a good talking to – a talking to Al had delivered four times in the last fortnight. The results were: one living room door off its hinges, one large coffee stain on the floor, a couple of nasty bruises each (talking about it while sparring had not been such a great idea) and pretty much no appreciable change of attitude from Ed. At least he hadn’t busted his automail. If Ed did that right now, he was really screwed. Although Al supposed it would at least get them talking … and he derailed that train of thought before it really, really got him into trouble.

He'd been so simply and dumbly happy for them both when it all started the summer after the Promised Day, when he'd seen the two of them walking in from the fields holding hands, and he'd thought that all of the loose ends in their lives were coming together. But of course the holiday had to end sometime: Winry had a job that she loved that was halfway across the country, and Ed, much as he hated it, had a military contract that wasn't up yet...and that was where it had all gotten complicated with the two of them.

Al himself was fine. He did kind of need to work out what he wanted to do with his life, but really, that wasn't so much of a problem. In the meantime, he had his studies, and Ed's company - much as he wasn't always fun to be around right now - and the city itself. Since their return after the coup, Central seemed to be springing to life around them - bars, cabaret, music, art, weird radical street theatre that made no sense. Of course, there was also the increasingly scary amount of violent crime, but after years of fighting homunculi and chimerae and crazed alchemists, it was difficult to get properly nervous about that. Hey, that reminded him.

"Hey, Ed, did you see today's paper yet? You know Captain Catalina from the office? Her roommate got murdered by a burglar."

Ed's head snapped round so fast that his ponytail hit the guy standing behind him right in the eye.



"Put me on the Flowers case."

Fullmetal, lean, wiry and stubbled, was leaning against the back of Roy's office sofa with his arms folded in front of his chest.

"Are you trying to give an order to your superior officer?"

Edward stuck his chin out, his I-won't-budge expression. "Why not? It's not like you've got me on anything else."

True, but Roy was more focused on how, within the space of a single day, Edward had even heard about their supposedly discreet and unofficial investigation of Flowers' death. The gossip in his offices was appalling. Time to get Major Hawkeye to have another one of her little chats with everyone?

If it had been a few years ago, he would have known exactly which meddling, overbearing loudmouth had spilled the beans to Fullmetal. Then again, the answer was still fairly obvious, wasn't it?

He raised his voice above the background hum of the office. "Havoc! Stop gossiping like a housewife and do your damn job!"

Across the room, Havoc looked up with a fairly convincing expression of startled innocence. "Me, sir?" His new position was making him into a much better liar.

Roy gave him a sharp look and held it. After a moment, Havoc blinked and looked away, then contritely went back to his survey of the financial paper. Another small battle won.

Roy returned his focus to Edward. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the desk. "So, where did this sudden desire to help come from?"

Edward - Fullmetal, still for the next twenty-nine days - looked awkward. He fidgeted, hopped his butt further up on the sofa back he was leaning on. "I'm interested in the case?"

Roy wasn't buying it. "You have less than a month left. This sort of enquiry isn't exactly your speciality. And neither is asking me for work."

"Look, this is gonna be my last job, right? I might as well do something that isn't a total waste of time. If I don't ask, you're just gonna give me some pointless busy-work crap to remind me I'm not free yet."

He was being defensive. Edward was on the ropes already. Pleased, Roy pressed ahead. "So, Fullmetal, what exactly makes this assignment worth your time?" He gave Edward a challenging look.

Edward tried for a stubborn glare, then he looked down. He muttered, "She made me dinner."

Roy raised an eyebrow. So that was it, then. "The way to a man's heart ..."

Fullmetal jerked upright and snapped "No! It wasn't like that! Get your mind out of the gutter, Mustang."

Roy laughed inwardly. Flowers was thirty-two, for goodness' sake. He hadn't been implying anything more than that the best way for anyone to make an impression on Edward was to feed the man. Still, it was gratifying that after all these years, Fullmetal seemed to have developed such a marked Pavlovian response to his teasing that Roy hardly needed to say a word to get a reaction.

Then, almost guiltily, Ed offered his explanation. "It was just the one time ... It was a couple weeks ago. Al used all the typewriter ribbon and it was a Sunday, so I had to go write my report at the office. Havoc and Catalina were there, too, and we were all kind of messing around in between work stuff, and then when I got finished up we all went to Catalina's place to grab some take-out. Only when we got there Katie was in, and she had this big pot of stew on, and she made us all share. She didn't even make it for us; she didn't know anyone was gonna be in. It was pretty nice of her, and y'know, the stew was really good." Ed frowned, as if he was searching his mind. "I wanted to do something to say thanks, so I was gonna ask Catalina if they had anything at the apartment that needed fixing. But then I was out of town for the Yarvil thing - total bullshit, by the way, read my report - and when I got back ..."

Edward and his alchemist's need to balance the scales. Roy smiled. "All right, Fullmetal. Meet me here at thirteen hundred. We'll take a walk, and I'll get you up to speed on things." Then he added, "Bring some sandwiches."


On to Chapter Two.


( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 25th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh wow this was a good surprise to come home to! I can hardly wait to see more... there are so many possibilities for intrigue and even though she DIES in the beginning, Katie is fleshed out and likable.
Aug. 25th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
Hoorah for comments! There will be intrigue, yes. (and Havoc POV in the next chapter, you'll be pleased to hear). Glad you liked Katie - creating an interesting OC without having them steal the limelight from the main characters is quite a difficult balancing act. The fact that she's TOTALLY DEAD kind of helped.
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Aug. 25th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
So happy you enjoyed this (illustrations included) and Wrong Turn! Glad you liked Rebecca, too - it was a bit of a risk starting with a minor character's POV. I'm increasingly fond of her as a character - she's only been in about three scenes in the manga, but she makes a big impression. I like loads of different pairings in FMA, but Ed/Roy have got to be my favourite. It's great to be writing them again - stay tuned!
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Aug. 25th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
Interesting quote for an interesting title. Already I can see this is going to be nothing like the good, straight, honesty simple action violence that we had in Worng Turn. It's gonna be messy, underhanded, dirty and amoral, and I LOVE IT TO PIECES.

I love your Rebecca for two reasons: she sounds incredibly believable as a young woman, and she doesn't sound like your Hawkeye, who also sounds very believable as a woman. Oh, and she's banging Havoc, but that's actually something to like him about (the fact that she considers him man enough for herXD). I think her working relationship with Mustang started out very funny, it actually reminded me of one of my dad's secretaries (also thought he was good-looking, and also dismissed it as bullshit after two days of workaholic tendenciesXD)
What has Mustang so distracted, I wonder? Apart from, you know, the whole crazy unstable political situation, and he being in the middle of it?

The metro had been full of people who, for the most part, were younger, drunker and cheerier than her.

I love this quoteXD

Very tense moment when she reached her flat. And you evil person, you lured me into a sense of security that she'd pull off allright. Poor Katie. Very well-done, the feeling that every little person of the whole political machine is important and can be targeted.
Rebecca calling Riza for help was lovely. Female bonds in fiction are great and hard to come by

Nice touch with that xingese flyer in the phonedesk. And speaking of Xing, will we see/hear about Ling, Ran Fan, Mei and co.?

Roy eating almond pastries is ♥. His bond with Riza was subtly written and wonderful too, the sense of security, trust and companionship. Poor Riza, still sharper than anyone and she apologizes for not being on everything.
I'd like to know how Hakuro got to be the opposition to Roy after the Promised Day, and were Olivia is, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I just get too excited over good fics ^.^
And you know, Roy, the best way is usually the hardest

And, ok, the brothers drinking beers like normal teens in a bar and being all manly and still goofy at some points was by far my favourite scene of the fic. I don't like fics where Ed treats Al like he's 8 or something, so glad he's not "apalled" or "shocked" that his little brother drinks beer, thinks about girls, et all. I also liked that Al's still experimenting about his body and sensations.

Al imagined that if the university ever landed him that after-school tuition work they'd been threatening, that this could turn into a problem.

I imagine this is about Al and not Ed. So what is Ed planning to do with his life when he's free from the military?
Also,violent teacher!Al FTW xDDDDD

I love all the little details that give so much ambience to your story. The fact that the beer tastes like lemon, that it's summer, that the city still lives with all the political upheaval, that the subway is still full of drunk and cheerful teens on a friday night, it all forms a complete universe. Also great is the feeling that all these lives are happening at the same city with different interests and concerns at the same time, even if we know they'll all converge at some point, probably sooner rather than later. It gives a very realistic air to the story

Ed took his beer and saluted the air. "One more month! Only thirty more days of this military bullshit, then I'm free!"

Yeah, right. Dream on, EdXDXDXDXD
(I almsot feel bad for him, he's so happy. AlmostXD)

Interesting that Ed feels so personally about Roy's cause, hehe. I almost want him to really get out of the military just to see the good-bye scene. He'll probably be all thankful and everything, after all, Ed's mostly growl but no bite with his acquaitancesXD

That was a great way of teeling Winry and Ed's short and fated romance through Al's POV. There's probably more going on than they being far from each other (specially with Ed's release date so close), but still nice to read his frustration and resignation. Also, "haunted lump of iron" is probably my favourite description of manga Al everXD
How far did Ed and Winry go, I wonder?
Aug. 25th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
Since their return after the coup, Central seemed to be springing to life around them - bars, cabaret, music, art, weird radical street theatre that made no sense

This was glorious, because it's probably Al and Ed themselves who sprang to life after their long quest ended, but it reads like he suddenly discovered, surprised, that cities are entertaining, specially to young people. He also seems the most normal of the cast (the disparity of his normalcy and Ed''s life is funny), studying for university like he should at his age, and appreciating girls and night life and beerXD. Maybe Mei should pay him a visit now xDDDDD
It's also funny to think that he feels safe just because he's fought all sorts of weird crazy things; can't he imagine they're probably on everybody's sights just from their talent and their proximity to Mustang? has he not considered his brtoher's unparalleled magnetic attraction to trouble?XD

Stubbled!Ed is cute!! Is his stubble as golden as his father's?XD

Time to get Major Hawkeye to have another one of her little chats with everyone?

Imagining Hawkeye's stare of doom was great. It's canon that she terrorizes her office every other dayXD
Their interaction was very good, but it was actually a rather sad scene, specially when he started speaking about poor Katie. I liked that story about the stew, because it really brought out a sense of camaraderie between him and the staff, like he's really adult and included in everything now, like an equal

"Bring some sandwiches."

You're cheap, RoyXD

Ok, sorry for the long review, I got a little carried away. But I loved it too much, and I'm going on vacation for days and I won't be reading more fic till I come back, and I'm so glad this is the last I'll read before being bereft ^.^
Aug. 26th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
Don't apologise for the long review - so happy that you appreciated it so much. Particularly pleased to hear that you liked the portrayal of Central - I really wanted to give it some atmosphere and make it seem like a real European city. I don't know Germany so well so it's basically a more of a combination of London and a bunch of Italian and Spanish cities I like. You're right, while to some extent I thought Central might come to life a bit once Bradley's iron boot was off, so much of it is that Ed and Al actually have time to appreciate these things now. Which I loved writing, they deserve a nice cold beer after everything they've been through! But yeah, maybe they're being a wee bit complacent about the dangers of the city, though XD

I have to say, one of my favourite things about writing Rebecca's POV was the fact that, despite that she's such a carnal, man-hungry person, she totally doesn't fancy Mustang now she actually has to work for him.

There's going to be a little more background on how the coup ended up with two factions rather than Mustang in power right away. And yeah, I'll be explaining where Olivia Armstrong has got to in all this.
Aug. 29th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
I didn't know if I should leave a comment or not when this first went up, but now that it's been up I feel bad for not doing so. It's about time that I gave my fairy-god-story-child some comment love. So I apologize for the late comment, though you know I love this story already.

I love the life you've breathed into this city, and into the characters (particularly Rebecca in this chapter). You have a great character voice and a great sense of humor. I can't wait for the next chapters for the Roy/Ed UST to develop (among the many other things discussed that I'm excited for!).

Hope your holiday is a fun one with good weather!
Aug. 31st, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
No apologies necessary! It's been particularly nice to hear from people about the city, which I wanted to give a lot of atmosphere to, and Rebecca, who's such a minor character I wasn't sure how easy it would be to sell people on her POV.

On to the blistering sexual tension!
Sep. 7th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this a lot. I like mysteries for one, so figuring out what happened here will be interesting. I liked Rebecca's voice in this and hey, art!
Sep. 7th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks, glad you liked it! I'm about to post Chapter 2 today as soon as I'm done shading the art. This is my first time writing a mystery, and I'm having lots of fun with it.

I'm always happy when people say nice things about Rebecca. I've grown very fond of her!
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Sep. 8th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
I was so excited to see this turn up on my friends page! Thoroughly enjoying it already, I liked the multi-perspectives and the promise of intrigue and an interesting plot. Great pictures as well, that kind of sepia-ish tone really fits with my image of the time period you're evoking. I'm horribly jealous you can both write and draw though ¬_¬

The Havoc/Rebecca thing is totally floating my boat too, I love Havoc's character and I'm glad to see a continuation of your kink meme fic. Now on to chapter 2!
Sep. 8th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
Woo hoo and thanks! So glad you're enjoying. I wanted to do the Roy/Ed stuff within an ensemble piece with a proper plot, so glad you like the multiple perspectives.

Glad you're enjoying Havoc/Rebecca! I love those two. Someone suggested on another thread that there are hints they may end up canon, and the more I think about it - and realise how much their canonical versions complement each other - the more I think that Rebecca may even have been written to end up with him. That would rock my socks if it happened! Havoc needs to be getting some non-evil action.
Sep. 12th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
I went to read the second chapter of this and realized I'd never commented on this chapter. I was really excited to see you posting this fic, because I very much enjoyed your kink meme fics. It's wonderful to have such an excellent writer appear in the fandom. And you draw well, too!

This was a great beginning. As others have said, you did a great job of fleshing Katie out, so that I was sad to see her go. There were so many things I loved about this that I don't think I can list them all. Rebecca's musings on how her opinion of working for Mustang had changed within a week cracked me up. Roy and Riza working together in a serious way is something I enjoy, and it was a good reminder that even after all they have been through for their country, the political climate in Amestris is still treacherous. I loved seeing Al and Ed and Winry (and the failed relationship) through Al's eyes. He sees Central as awakening after Bradley's regime, but you make it easy to read between the lines and see that both brothers are able to see the life around them, and even participate in ways they never had time to before. That was very touching. Finally, Mustang's enjoyment of still being able to wind Ed up, and the glimpse of office workings, cracked me up again at the end. The pacing from section to section was very well done.

My favorite sentence, though, was this: For a professional perpetrator of sketchy deals, Jean was such a crappy liar, the sweetheart. There is so much in that short sentence. Rebecca is proud of Jean's abilities, mocking his faulty lying skills, and loving him for all of it all at once. It's a brief and funny revelation of how much she cares for him.

Anyway, great start, and I look forward to more!

I forgot to add that Mustang's thoughts on how much older Katie was than Ed were pretty funny, considering where this story is going, and that he must be 32 or 33 himself, if Ed is almost nineteen.

Edited at 2009-09-12 03:58 pm (UTC)
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Hoorah, thanks for lovely comments! I'm glad you liked Katie - I thought she'd be a more interesting victim than the more standard "random politician dude stabbed in alley", and would help flesh out Rebecca too. So glad you were amused by Mustang's thoughts on her age, which is indeed the same as his - this was totally deliberate and it entertained me to write it. The other thing that no one's commented on yet is that Katie and Rebecca are childhood friends who were six at the same time - which means that Rebecca herself is about two or three years older than Riza, who hasn't yet turned thirty. For some reason, given Rebecca's canon competitiveness with Riza over both career and love life, I thought it would really needle her that Riza was younger and higher up the greasy pole. Although Rebecca is rapidly turning from Bridget Jones into a smug married ...

Rebecca's opinions on Mustang entertained me too, so I'm glad you liked that bit. I'm really enjoying writing Rebecca and Havoc too - in a fic and a universe with so many complicated and scary things happening, from Ed and Winry's break-up to the prospect of war, it's a nice relief for me to write one established couple who are crazy about each other. As I've said elsewhere, someone told me recently that there's a fan theory that Arakawa actually designed Rebecca specifically to pair off with Havoc at the end, and the more I write my versions of these guys, the more I wouldn't be surprised. They complement each other so well! And of course, as Rebecca would be the first to point out, she has a great rack XD
Sep. 26th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
Cool. Death early in the story, what a great way to start out. You have my interest....Cool illustrations as feel. Is there a full comic coming?

That would be cool. Onward to the next chapter. Nice one. Cheers.
Sep. 26th, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
Thanks! I don't know about a full comic. I do draw comics too outside of livejournal, but I'm painfully slow so an illustrated fic is much easier to get out in a timely fashion! I wouldn't rule out a comic strip omake, though.
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
I re-read this chapter today (yeah, that's how desperate you got me for moreXD; it also helps that I'm sick today and unable to drunk myself into stupor with my co-Erasmus partnersXD)
Again, excellent. You're a really good writer, and your prose is superb. I found myself enjoying the Roy sections more than Ed's this time around.
Also, "weird radical street theater that made no sense" is a new favourite line for meXD (exactly my thoughts on performance and improvised theaterXD)

Roy laughed inwardly. Flowers was thirty-two, for goodness' sake. He hadn't been implying anything more than that the best way for anyone to make an impression on Edward was to feed the man

OMG, I can't believe I never noticed this, crazy shipper that I am!! So Roy thinks "for goodness' sake", that Ed was idiotic to think he'd be hinting at a pairing between him and a thirty-years old? I LOVED this line, considering what's coming to themXD
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
Yay, thanks so much for more lovely comments. I imagined that since this is a time of new freedoms, there would be lots of crazy art happening in the Dadaist and even (totally different era, I know) Situationist vein. I keep meaning to write some weird modern art or satirical cabaret or something in, but these guys, as Rebecca points out, really don't get enough time to go out and have fun. Al and Ed do, but now I've locked them in Roy's library to geek it up. Good job they love it. XD

"Flowers was thirty-two" - yeah, I loved writing that line, and am always happy when people notice the implied joke. Poor, poor deluded Roy. XD
Oct. 23rd, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
And here is my review, as promised!

This was my first introduction to your writing, so my thoughts may have turned out differently had I read the others first.

The bit of concrit is about grabbing attention at the beginning on a story. When I started reading my brain went, "Neugh...text block" and started skimming down to see if I was actually interested in reading. Maybe it's because of my ADD or just the type of reader I am, but I kept skimming, reading only the first couple sentences of a paragraph until I got to around this line: Katie creaked, "I got shot.".

Once I realized how much I love your writing I went back and read the beginning, but at first glance I wasn't drawn in at all. I'm definitely not saying that your descriptive writing is bad (because holy hell, I love it), it just maybe needs to be counterbalanced with a few more attention grabbers at the start. On the other hand, I didn't notice this with any of your other fics, so you're up, like, 20 to 1. I think you're doing pretty damn good.

Also, I love your illustrations in the fic, especially the one of Ed and Al in this chapter. Every time I see that one I start laughing because while I know they're just suppose to be sitting there drinking beer, it looks like they're giving each other The Crazy Elric Eyes. And I love The Crazy Elric Eyes because, really? when is Ed not crazy?
Oct. 24th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Right, finally got some time to reply to the concrit. It's funny you should say that - I looked back over the conversations my beta and I were having back in August and I had concerns about the opening. Not enough action until we got to the flat, minor character POV, and so on. The exact words I used were "I need a good opening to hook the reader in". The alternative I was considering was a sort of cheesy Bond film pre-credit action sequence to act as a kind of trailer for the fic. It was going to be a little action scene with Ed taking down standard-issue chimerae or thugs or whatever on his mission in Yarvil, with a few gags thrown in to advertise the fact that there's a lot of comedy coming up. My beta was actually pretty fond of the opening scene as it was and thought the comedy sold it until we got to the murder bit, so we talked about it a bit more and decided to keep it. So ... I guess your mileage may vary? It's really good to hear another perspective on this, though, definitely something I'd keep in mind for future multi-parters (I have two planned, a sequel to this and something different for the Big Bang Contest).

I do sometimes read fic and indeed look at books in shops the same way - skim until I decide I like it enough to read with my full attention. In some ways, I'm fine with readers approaching it like that, but obviously the ideal is to hook them in straight away, as you say. Something to ponder for future work!

And please don't feel shy about concrit - it was really nice of you to ask beforehand, but just for future reference I like concrit and am always very grateful when people go to the trouble of giving it to me. And really glad you're reading and enjoying! XD

P.S. The Crazy Elric Eyes - heh. I think this was in part an inadvertent result of drawing!fail, trying to find a balance between my own usual style and Arakawa's way of drawing faces, so the characters would be recognisable. They probably do give each other the Crazy Elric Eyes a lot, though.
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Dec. 22nd, 2009 07:36 am (UTC)
look at me, look at me, i am finally reviewing! except it is 2:30 AM. bah.
So. I think it has now been quite firmly established that I am rubbish at commenting. Thank the Lord for Winter Break. I've been catching up on reviewing bookmarked fic, and this is one of them because, holy hell, I am so far behind on reviewing.

Er, right. Anyways, onwards and upwards!

I love your Rebecca. I don't think I've ever mentioned that, but I love her. So. Much. Snark. She is awesome. This line: [The hotness, it was invisible to her now.] It is awesome. Conclusion: You are awesome. (I am sure the transitive property can be worked in there somehow.)

And then you have to go and ruin the fun, what with the burglary and Katie's death. =|

Just kidding. Nice job hopping from comedy to something far more serious in the space of 100 words. Jesus Christ, I don't even know how you sober the fic up that quickly, but it worked, whatever you did.

A few more things:

[was past twenty two hundred on a Friday night] - I think you can just go with 2200 instead of writing it out. I . . . actually had to stop and think about what you were talking about and it did hit me like a ton of bricks. Still.

[just waved a hand and said, "yes, yes, dismissed, Captain," ] - Capitalization?

[Fullmetal jerked upright and snapped "No! It wasn't like that!] - Missed a comma after "snapped."

Okay, and now it is time to sleep before I fall over. I hope this comment is coherent (IT MIGHT NOT BE) and I hope I don't come back in the morning and read this and think, "What the hell did I just write?"
Dec. 22nd, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Re: look at me, look at me, i am finally reviewing! except it is 2:30 AM. bah.
Thanks so much! Glad you're reading and enjoying. I love Rebecca too - it's funny how far she's implanted herself into my brain based on the fact that she's only been in about four pages. I love her snark too, and it's fun to write her and Havoc because they're such refreshingly normal people mixed up in all the craziness. I also really enjoy writing how unimpressed she is by Mustang, heh.

The opening scene was a bit of a risk, starting a big plotty fic with minor character POV, followed by the death of an OC whom we haven't even met before. I'm really glad to hear the rapid switch of mood worked for you, I love writing those but they can be difficult to get right.

Oh, and thanks for the punctuation catches, as ever! My beta and I try to comb through, but in a fic this size one or two bits will always slip through the net, so it's good to have attentive readers.

P.S. How excited are you about David Tennant's last ep of Doctor Who on the 25th? I am very excited. I am going to be watching with family and there will be NO CHIT-CHAT permitted during the performance.
Jan. 13th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
I really liked this line (Rebecca really wished she didn't love democracy so much.) in the beginning. I love the illustrations! Poor Katie. You've got Ed's voice down pat. And I'm excited to read the next chapter!
May. 5th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
I love intrigue and already we have it in spades. It's very much like Ed to remember any small kindness, he's such a compassionate soul, but don't tell him I said that! Also, the art just really gives the story that much more UMPH

Edited at 2010-05-05 01:07 pm (UTC)
May. 5th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)
Glad you're enjoying! This story is all about the intrigue ... I had to make a little chart to keep track of all the plot threads. I'm glad you liked Ed's motives for getting involved in the case. Under that blokish, f-bomb strewing manner, he's very thoughtful, and he has such a big heart. *glomps him* Thanks for saying nice things about the art. I strive to improve!

Ooh, and since I know your OTP, I should warn you that you're in for some delayed gratification where the boys are concerned XD. There will ultimately be action (I hesitate to say romance, because Ed is involved XD) and I know when it's going to happen ... they'll get there.
Jul. 16th, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
Whoa, okay, srs bsns. This oughta be good. I'm not gonna get through it before I have to go to bed, though, dangit! Oh well, always good to save some fun stuff for later. *dashes off to ch. 2*
Jul. 21st, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, very srs bizness! I had lots of fun with dirty politics in this one. Glad you're enjoying so far!
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