Categories > Anime/Manga > Full Metal Alchemist > Shamballa - Part 2 - Separate Ways

Turmoil

by Beregond5 0 Reviews

Roy and Havoc still search for Beregond.

Category: Full Metal Alchemist - Rating: G - Genres: Angst,Crossover,Drama - Characters: Jean Havoc,Roy Mustang - Warnings: [!!!] [V] [?] - Published: 2007/12/04 - Updated: 2007/12/04 - 5388 words - Complete

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"So you didn't hear what Beregond and the other man said?" Roy asked as soon as Alice finished her account on things.

Alice shook her head with regret.

Sighing in mild frustration, Roy arose in full stature and directed his gaze to Sarah's colleagues. Most of them were by now gathered around because of the commotion.

"Can any of you tell me if they heard anything?"

Everyone murmured uneasily. To Roy, that meant one thing: they were all too busy with their own work to notice anything at that time.

Roy swore mentally at the realisation that things were only getting from bad to worse.

"Excuse me?" a male voice suddenly sounded as though out of the blue.

Both Roy and Havoc turned around to see a young college student with glasses behind them, raising meekly his hand. The student clearly wanted to say something, but he wasn't sure if he should.

"Yes?" Roy said.

"I couldn't help overhearing," the student explained. "I just wanted to let you know that I was reading some books by that desk there and I saw and heard most of the stuff that went on."

Roy jumped at the chance. "And?" he asked keenly.

"Well, after the sergeant guy told the girl to close her eyes, he walked up to the other soldier - a lieutenant colonel, from the looks of it - and saluted him. The other guy didn't appreciate the gesture, because he was pretty steamed and glaring at the sergeant, you know? Moreover, he kept saying something to the likes of that the sergeant should follow him at once. The sergeant tried to explain that they could at least wait for the girl's mother first, but the lieutenant colonel wouldn't have it. In fact, he ordered two men from his escort to handcuff the sergeant and take him away to see a Brigadier General O' Connor or something like that..."

"Connors," Havoc said before he could help it.

"Yeah, that," the college student said with a shrug. "The sergeant didn't put up any fight, so they were gone in moments. That was about twenty minutes ago."

"Are you sure about that?" Roy asked.

"Pretty sure," the student answered.

Roy didn't need to be told twice. "Thank you for your cooperation." He signalled to Havoc that they should leave and got ready to head out.

"Colonel? Mr. Havoc?" Sarah said at that moment.

Both men turned. "Yes?"

"Thank you."

To Roy's intrigue, Havoc blushed and seemed to have some sort of difficulty saying: "You're welcome." But he couldn't afford the luxury to contemplate that. There were other, more pressing matters at hand.

"I wish we could have met under better circumstances," was all that Roy said. And with that, he bowed his head and exited with Havoc close to his heels.

"Sir, what can we do now?" Havoc asked as they approached the car.

"Act quickly," Roy answered. "Fawcette must have already reached Connors, so I'll have to go to their office as soon as we arrive at Headquarters. You retrieve the witnesses Breda hopefully found."

"Yes, Sir," Havoc said, taking out of his pocket the keys to his car. Once both men settled inside the vehicle, Havoc started the engine and drove off.

--------------

After Roy hurried to Connors' office, Havoc went to see to his own task. He opened the door to Roy's own office, but the only one inside was a man with the rank of major. Havoc immediately saluted.

"Excuse me, Sir? Do you wish to speak to Colonel Mustang?"

"It would seem that the Colonel wished to speak to /me/, but I've been waiting since this morning," the major answered, his tone half-teasing, half-serious. "And the 2nd Lieutenant who brought me here wouldn't say what it was about."

"I'm 2nd Lieutenant Jean Havoc, Sir," Havoc explained at once. "I was asked by Colonel Roy Mustang to escort you to Brigadier General Connors' office. It concerns the integrity of a certain Sergeant Beregond."

The major raised an eyebrow. "That poor devil? So Fawcette decided to go after him about that hole, I see."

Havoc blinked. "Sir?"

The major just waved his hand dismissively. "You'll understand soon enough. It's a pity that Bindle wasn't found, but I hope my testimony alone will suffice. Lead the way, 2nd Lieutenant Havoc."

Havoc complied, relieved to see that the major was willing to help Beregond.

---------------

The first thing that both men noticed when they approached Brigadier General Connors' office was the angry voices that could be heard even through the closed door. They visibly winced.

"This is bad," commented the major.

Havoc couldn't agree more. Trying to keep himself composed, he knocked on the door and entered as soon as Connors barked: "Proceed!"

Havoc entered and saluted, followed close behind by the major. His eyes caught sight of everything in one glance. Connors was standing behind his desk, his arms crossed and his face carrying an expression of frightening coolness. Fawcette seemed close to attacking Mustang physically, whereas the colonel was glaring indignantly at both of them. And the one who truly stood out was Beregond, who was sitting on the couch nearby. The Gondorian's hands were now free and his expression tranquil, albeit a bit sad.

Beregond was also the first to acknowledge their presence. With a faint smile tugged on his lips, he stood up and saluted.

Roy turned around as well, his eyes reflecting a small gleam of relief in his eyes.

"Ah, Lieutenant Havoc. I see you brought the witness," he noted. He motioned his hand toward the couch when the major saluted. "Please, have a seat, major. Can you please state your name and title for the officers?"

"Major Conrad Moser, the Rock Alchemist," Moser answered.

"All right," Roy said. "Major Moser, I'm going to be straightforward. I was told you were at the training grounds two days ago."

"You were told correct, Sir."

"Did you happen to see Sergeant Beregond there?" Roy asked.

"Yes, Sir. Sergeant Beregond asked me for a sword and I showed him to the weapons' room."

Fawcette picked up a sword from Connors' desk. "Is this the sword the sergeant got from that room?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," Moser answered. "He transmuted it using the materials from a pile of other, faulty swords."

Fawcette's upper lip curled in distaste. "It's quite the heavy weapon. It can do a great deal of damage, don't you agree?"

Moser nodded, even though he was certainly surprised by such a question. "That's the purpose of this sword, Sir. It's made so that its strokes prove lethal."

"Yet you allowed the Sergeant to wield such a weapon?" Fawcette asked.

"As Sergeant Beregond told me, he was trained on such weapons. I had no reasons not to allow him to use it," Moser explained.

Fawcette was about to say something, but Connors stopped him. "Were you aware of the sergeant's wish for such a weapon?" he asked Roy.

Roy stiffened. "No, I wasn't."

"So he never came to you to ask for permission?"

"As you can see, he asked permission from Major Moser," Roy answered in a steadfast manner.

"Sergeant Beregond is under your jurisdiction though," Connors noted with a smirk. "He's your subordinate and yet you don't know what he's doing?"

"I don't feel I need to, when my men are to be trusted and their actions don't seem harmful to the military's interests," Roy said.

"And having such a dangerous weapon for themselves isn't harmful to the military's interests?" asked Fawcette indignantly.

"Lieutenant Colonel, please control your temper," Connors said. He faced Roy again. "You stand by that answer?"

"Yes."

Connors smiled, though that smile was certainly not friendly. "Then it would interest you to know that some of his actions have been harmful to the military's interests. It has come to my attention that Sergeant Beregond destroyed military property with that weapon of his two days ago," he said before turning to Moser. "I do believe you were present when that happened, Major."

"Indeed I was."

"So it's true?"

Moser hesitated. "Yes, but..."

"A simple yes or no will do, Major," Connors said.

Moser bit his lower lip, because it was clear what Connors was trying to do. He cast a brief glance at Beregond's direction, as if trying to apologise in this way, and then answered: "Yes, sir."

"Major Moser, do you believe it was deliberate?" Roy asked.

"No, sir," Moser answered at once. "In fact, he offered to fix the damage afterwards."

"Did he?"

Moser nodded. "Yes, Sir."

Roy turned to Connors. "Since this is the case, I don't see the reason Sergeant Beregond is being held."

"Surely, you must understand," Connors answered. "The man has proved himself quite dangerous. It might have been an accident, as he claims; but how can we be sure that he won't be involved into another accident with an even worse outcome - say, the damage to a human life?"

"To have any soldier entrusted with a weapon has its risks; nevertheless it's a necessary evil," Roy said. "A soldier needs to protect himself, after all."

"And why should he feel threatened here, among his own fellow soldiers?" Connors asked.

"It's not a question of threat, it's about policy," Roy answered. He motioned his head at Connors' chest, where a gun was strapped.

"I never got it out to use it so recklessly," Connors pointed out, almost sweetly. "I should be more thoughtful about that if I were you. I'd hate to think that he might get you into any trouble because of his... eagerness."

"Let me worry about that when it's necessary," Roy said.

"I think you should worry quite soon," Connors said in an unnerving smile. "There have been several times when Lieutenant Colonel Fawcette had to put up with Sergeant Beregond's impudence..."

"In that case, Lieutenant Colonel Fawcette should be questioned about his loyalties as well; he seems to despise saluting colonels," Roy said.

It was true; Fawcette never saluted Roy.

"And I was also told that his impudence reaches to the point of not obeying a direct order," Connors carried on.

Roy huffed a bit and turned to Beregond. "Did you disobey a direct command from Lieutenant Colonel Fawcette?"

"No, Sir," Beregond answered.

"And what about the command I gave you not to use alchemy to fix the damage you caused at the training grounds?" Fawcette said, glaring at the Gondorian.

"Followed it to a tee," Beregond said evenly. "I lived without Alchemy for forty years; I could make ends meet even in the situation you put me in."

"It's true," Moser seconded. "He just took a sack we use for the bunkers, added water and made a concrete substance strong enough to patch up the hole."

Fawcette turned to Moser with a sneering look in his eyes. "It seems that you weren't willing to listen when I warned you about the sergeant's person. Or is it perhaps some alchemist camaraderie that makes you think the sergeant needs your support?"

There was a long pause.

"You're right, Sir," the major finally answered. "As an alchemist, it's my job to be there for the people - especially those that are treated unfairly."

Fawcette scowled. "I treat everyone as I feel they deserve."

"Which means the problem isn't Sergeant Beregond, Fawcette. It's you," Roy concluded. His eyes seemed as if they were ready to pierce through the lieutenant colonel.

Connors shook his he head. "Though Fawcette is in a mood in which he can't express himself clearly, you must admit that he has a point. There are hardly any records that might ensure the military's trust in the sergeant. In fact, as far as I can tell, he’s from a different country entirely. His accent, no matter how inconspicuous it has become over these last few months, proves that. How can it be ascertained where his loyalties lie? Friendships can hardly be considered valid within these buildings. You and I both know that quite well, Mustang."

Roy's eyes narrowed. "And you know as well as I do, Brigadier General, that unless there's solid evidence against Sergeant Beregond's person, he's not to be dragged around like a criminal."

"And what about today? Didn't he act as a criminal when he didn't report for duty this morning? He wasn't sick nor did he arrive late; he simply didn't show up at all. In fact, there are witnesses that claim to have seen him carrying around a little girl. Quite a compromising situation, don't you think?"

Roy bit his lower lip, whereas Havoc was ready to utter his objections. Because they both realised that Connors was ready to accuse Beregond of kidnapping Alice.

Thankfully, Roy had one last card to play.

"According to military policy, a civilian's well-being always comes first. It should be noted that the little girl had to be returned safely to her mother's care. You can call the mother herself to confirm my words, as well as the mother's colleagues and every bystander who was in the library at that time." His face became sterner, and placed both hands on Connors' desk. "And it should also be noted that under Lieutenant Colonel Fawcette's command, Sergeant Beregond was forced to abandon the little girl in unknown hands. If anything happens to her, it'll be the lieutenant colonel who will be held responsible for unnecessarily endangering a human life. And if this charade should carry on, I'm sure Sergeant Beregond is willing to place charges against Lieutenant Colonel Fawcette so that he /is/."

"Is that a threat, Colonel Mustang?" Connors said quietly, contempt dripping in his every word.

"A warning," Roy said, hardly fazed.

"Why you--!" Fawcette exclaimed, ready to lunge.

He never got the chance, because it was then that a powerful hand grabbed his arm, stopping him; Beregond's hand.

"I see that your loathing of colonels has worsened, Lieutenant Colonel," Roy said grimly. He turned to Beregond. "Release him, Sergeant; it's quite all right."

Beregond obeyed, even though his eyes remained locked on Fawcette. Havoc, who had also got ready to lunge in order to protect Mustang, relaxed his stance once more and waited.

Roy turned at Connors. "Now, if there isn't anything else, we'll take your leave now." He saluted, more out of courtesy than anything, and turned on his heel to head for the exit.

Havoc and Moser followed Roy, but it seemed that Beregond had one last thing to do. Saluting coolly, he took his sword and buckled it on his side. It was only after he cast a final look toward Connors and Fawcette that he walked out also.

-------------

"Nine months here and you've already got yourself an archenemy," Moser noted as soon as all four soldiers walked out of the brigadier general's office. "Frankly, if I were you, I wouldn't know whether to be flattered or worried, Sergeant." He then saluted Roy and Havoc in farewell and, soon enough, he was gone.

However, Beregond was unusually quiet, something that didn't escape Roy and Havoc's attention. The lieutenant nudged the Gondorian in an attempt to cheer him up.

"Why so glum?" he asked. "Fawcette and Connors can't touch you for now."

Beregond still didn't say anything.

"Are you thinking about Alice?" Havoc ventured again. "She's fine; we left her in Sarah's care."

The Gondorian smiled a bit this time; but it was clear that that reassurance wasn't enough. Something else was on his mind. In the end, Beregond faced Havoc and Roy and then bowed his head.

"Thank you... and I'm sorry."

Havoc was surprised at this, but not Roy. For the colonel crossed his arms and was looking in a stern manner at Beregond.

"You realise that that was a close call that could have been avoided, Sergeant?" he asked.

Beregond nodded.

"And that you could have handled things better? Say, make a phone-call and explained how things stood?" Roy asked again.

Beregond nodded again.

At the next moment, Roy sighed and his expression softened. "Well, it's done now. And I can't say your actions were entirely wrong. I just ask you to be more considerate next time. Is that understood?"

Beregond stood in attention at once. "Yes, Sir."

"Good. That will be all then." And with that, Roy got ready to walk toward his office. However, he stopped on his tracks, as though remembering himself.

"After all that, I doubt you had any time to go and study at the library, isn't that right, Sergeant?"

"Yes, Sir. And I fear it's too late for that now," Beregond answered.

"Perhaps not," Roy said, nodding at Havoc's direction.

Havoc didn't need to be told twice. He simply saluted and prodded Beregond to follow him.

"Where are we going?" the Gondorian asked, not really understanding.

"I'll drive you to the library," Havoc answered.

Beregond instantly turned to face Havoc. "But will you have time to return and do any work here?" he asked in concern. But, apparently, Havoc's expression was enough answer. "You'll stay with me."

Havoc nodded. "It will be a good chance to say goodbye to Alice and Sarah, too; so don't worry, I won't be bored," he said reassuringly. "Oh, by the way, once in the car, lock your gaze on the ceiling and think of something else while I'll be driving. It usually helps."

Beregond stared at Havoc with eyes widened in surprise. "How did you--?"

Havoc chuckled before he could help it. "Let's just say Ed warned me about your... problem."

----------

"Well, Sir?" Hawkeye asked as soon as Roy walked in the office. Breda, Falman and Fuery pricked up their ears, the same question reflected in their eyes.

Though Roy rubbed the back of his neck in a tired manner, there was a broad smirk brightening his features. "All settled. And if all goes well, we'll be rid of Fawcette one way or another."

"What do you mean, Sir?" Falman asked.

"I have, more or less, pointed out to Connors that, if Fawcette keeps pestering the sergeant, he'll have to face some consequences of his own. Connors won't tolerate the potential of such a threat so he'll call off his dog - maybe even have it transferred."

"That's good news for the sergeant," Breda noted with a smile.

"Indeed. The witness you found was helpful," Roy said.

Surprisingly enough, Breda blinked in confusion. "You mean witness/es/, Sir."

Now it was Roy's turn to blink. "No, I mean witness. There was only a Major Conrad Moser."

Breda frowned. "That's one. What about Private Bindle?"

"Who?"

Breda fidgeted nervously. "Sir, I had found two witnesses. I first came across a Private Shane Bindle, who told me where to find Major Moser. He said that he would find the way to your office and stay there."

"Well, apparently, he wasn't there. Havoc brought only Moser with him," Roy said.

"Interesting," Hawkeye noted, raising an eyebrow. "So where's the private now?"

---------------

Envy opened another chest of drawers, only to see that there was nothing of interest in there. Huffing in dismay, he pushed the drawers shut once again and started looking at another stack of files.

There was nothing in there either. That was making the homunculus quite frustrated, since he was running out of time to find what he wanted. The longer he delayed, the more chances he had of being discovered, either by a passing-by officer or - worse - the sergeant himself.

With that thought in mind, he scanned the Fullmetal shrimp's office again and then decided to look at the other desk nearby. It wasn't the sergeant's office, Envy was certain of that, but he hoped that he could find something useful in there.

When he opened the drawers, he caught sight of several files. There was only one that really drew his attention though. Perhaps it was the sheer volume of the folder, or because it was in a separate position from all the other files; nevertheless, it made Envy curious enough to have a look at it.

His curiosity was rewarded when he found inside the folder a file with the name "Beregond" written in bold lettering. And as Envy checked briefly at its contents, he immediately recognised the scratchy, left-handed handwriting that belonged to a certain vertically-challenged teen alchemist.

It wasn't what he had been looking for, but that certainly made up for his risk at coming here.

Feeling now that it was time for him to leave, Envy took again the form of Private Bindle. Once the folder was safely tucked under his military jacket, he walked out of the office like there was nothing wrong whatsoever.

"Well, Sir?" asked the janitor, still holding the stack of keys with which he opened the door for Envy. "Did you find what you were looking for?"

'Private Bindle' smirked. "I think I did."

--------------

"You just had to rush in and ruin everything, didn't you?"

That's what a very irritated Connors said, glaring at Fawcette.

"You ordered me to find anything that might connect that man to a compromising situation," said Fawcette, his face stern but pale. "There were a dozen compromising..."

"AND ALSO A DOZEN WITNESSES WHO WERE READY TO CONTRADICT YOU IN EVERY ONE OF THEM!" boomed Connors' voice throughout the office. He stood up and started pacing up and down the office, his body rigid and his muscles tense. "What you've done now is to make Mustang aware that we keep an eye on his precious pet! Not only that, but if there is anything out there that serves as that man's true identity, Mustang will now make sure it's destroyed!"

"Sir, with all due respect, I had hardly found anything anyway..."

"Really?" Connors stopped on his tracks, right in front of a wall where three swords were placed as ornaments. "You know my passion about swords, don't you, Lieutenant Colonel Fawcette? It's quite amazing what they can tell you about their forger, their wielder - even about themselves."

"Sir?"

But Connors didn't bother with an answer at once. He merely went back to his place behind the desk. "I will look into matters here, whereas you'll go to Central. After all, you know the kind of red tape that plagues Central, don't you, Colonel Fawcette? Paper upon paper, registry upon registry, record upon record..." Connors' voice trailed off.

"But Sir, I've already phoned Central for any files that could have the name Beregond in it and I came up with nothing!"

"Have you now?" Connors said. "Then when you get to Central, you had better carry a picture of the sergeant with you. Faces can't change the same way names can."

Fawcette smiled almost cruelly as he finally caught on. "I see. I will leave for Central first thing tomorrow."

Connors nodded. "And make it appear as though I'm sending you away in disfavour. After all, that's what Mustang was aiming for with that threat of his. We might as well give him a false sense of victory so he can enjoy it while he can."

"Understood, Sir," Fawcette said, saluting. He was about to exit the door, when Connors' voice stopped him.

"Fawcette... do you know the story of a man and his horse? The man wanted to journey to another town, so he set off on his horse first thing in the morning. On his way, the horse stumbled and made him fall, but the man said nothing. He simply climbed up again and rode on, until the horse stumbled a second time. The man still didn't do anything except get up and ride. But when the horse stumbled a third time, the man took out a gun and shot it in the head and thus gave a solution to his problem."

Fawcette turned and looked at the Brigadier General, trying to understand where his superior was getting with this.

"You've just stumbled twice, Fawcette," Connors voice rang softly yet deadly in the quiet of the office.

Feeling his insides suddenly twisting uncomfortably, Fawcette simply nodded and walked away.

------------

Havoc had to admit that the afternoon passed by quite pleasantly. While Beregond was studying, he had remained with Alice, who was more than happy to see the two men again. And even though he hadn't expected it, he wasn't in the least bored as he spent his time playing and joking with the little girl.

But now it was getting quite late, and Beregond hadn't shown up at all. Somehow Havoc was quite sure that the Gondorian got so immersed with his work that he hadn't realised that it was now almost closing time.

After all, he couldn't expect anything less from someone who happened to share the same lodgings with Edward and Alphonse Elric.

Sighing, Havoc's gaze drifted again at the direction of the little girl. She was curled up on the couch and caught in peaceful sleep, something that made Havoc smile. Before he realised what he was doing, he took off his military jacket and tenderly covered the smaller form, giving her a small peck on her cheek.

However, when Havoc turned around, he realised that Sarah was watching him. He quickly arose, blushing furiously at being caught as if he had done something wrong. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disturb her..." His voice trailed off, thinking that he was only making a fool out of himself.

Sarah just smiled and waved her hand dismissively in a sign to show him that she understood. She knelt beside her daughter and scrutinised every feature, making sure that there wasn't even a line of discomfort reflected there, and then nodded with an expression that clearly told she was satisfied. She quietly stood up and walked back to Havoc's side.

"It was a hard day for her. I wish there was something more I could do about her but I know I can't," she said softly. She gently gripped Havoc's arm in order to prod him out and so let Alice sleep on. As for Havoc, he tried not to think about the woman's fingers touching him.

Then he kicked himself mentally when he realised that that was precisely what he just did.

"And tomorrow will be even more difficult. You'll have to start preparing your bags," he blurted out, trying to keep a neutral tone in his voice.

Sarah nodded with a sigh. "And I'll have to do that on my own."

Havoc watched the woman for a few moments. Seeing her stressful expression, he decided that this wouldn't do.

"Perhaps not," he suddenly said. "Do you want help?"

Sarah blinked. She certainly hadn't expected this. "Are you offering it?"

"Yeah... and I'm sure Beregond will want to help too when I tell him," he added belatedly.

Green eyes locked on the lieutenant, a grateful gleam reflected in her eyes. "Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet. When do you finish work?"

"I won't be working tomorrow. I was given the day off because of my transfer," Sarah said at once.

"And tomorrow's Sunday, which means Beregond and I won't be working either. So we can come by your house. Does 9 o'clock sound good?"

"9 o' clock sounds perfect," she said, the sweetest smile gracing her features in such a way that Havoc couldn't help but feel warm inside.

It was then that the great clock against the wall behind them chimed.

"11 o'clock," Sarah said quickly, withdrawing her fingers away from Havoc's arm. "I had better start closing the library."

"Yeah. I'll fetch Beregond," Havoc said just as fast and went in search of the Gondorian.

He certainly wasn't surprised when he found Beregond still bent over a book, jotting down something that obviously caught his interest. Havoc had expected it, after all.

Except... Beregond seemed more like...

Havoc sighed. Yup... Ed, at least, was definitely a bad influence.

"Hey," he said softly, rapping the desk a bit.

Beregond instantly snapped up his head and looked around, blinking a bit in confusion. A crimson colour tinted his face as he understood what happened.

"I fell asleep, didn't I?"

"Only a bit," Havoc said, grinning. However, he sobered at once and settled on a chair opposite Beregond. "Look, I need to tell you something." And with a few brief words, he explained his offer to Sarah.

Beregond rubbed his chin thoughtfully at this. "I was thinking of coming back here and work some more. But I suppose I can always borrow the books, right? I want to help. It will be my way of saying goodbye, too."

"Yeah, it will," Havoc said, smiling a bit before standing up again. "Pack everything. We'll be leaving in ten minutes."

"Yes, Sir," Beregond said with a broad grin.

----------------

"This is the second time that you have to drive me and Alice home," said Sarah with a small laugh. She was sitting on the back seat after Havoc offered her a ride back to her place. "If I had the chance to remain in East City a little while longer, I would certainly get used to that kind of luxury." She looked down, where Alice was resting contently on her mother's lap. "Alice certainly has."

Havoc chuckled. "And there are some that I think will never get used to it," he said, casting a brief but very meaningful look at Beregond's direction.

The Gondorian was looking stubbornly up at the ceiling, his body tense and unmoving.

"I'd like to see you riding a horse," Beregond retorted, his tone a bit strained.

"No, thanks, I want to live," Havoc said, laughing. Realising that they had by now reached Sarah's house, he pulled over so that the woman could get out. They both exchanged goodnights, a warm smile brightening their features momentarily, and Havoc even watched her go inside her house with Alice in her arms, her hair now free from the hair-tie that was holding it in place and falling down her back. In fact, it was until after the door was closed behind her that he drove off, with Beregond still on the co-driver's seat.

It was Beregond's voice that first cut through the silence that reigned now inside the vehicle.

"You like her, don't you?"

Havoc blinked momentarily, not expecting such a question out of the blue. "She's a friend; your friend, to be exact. And she's a nice and fun enough person to hang out with. Why shouldn't I like her?" he said cautiously.

But it seemed Beregond couldn't be fooled even in his current condition. "That's not what I asked and you know it," he said, looking at Havoc through the corner of his eye.

Havoc locked his eyes on the road instead. "It doesn't matter anymore. She's leaving."

"True," Beregond said, looking upwards once again. "So what are you going to do?"

"In your own words, grit my teeth and get over it."

Beregond didn't speak again for some time. Then...

"You know, lately I've been seeing her a lot; not only because of Alice, but also because of my studies at the library. In fact, I see her almost everyday."

"So?" Havoc asked.

A faint smile crossed the Gondorian's features. "The first thing she says whenever she sees me is 'Good morning.' - every time."

Havoc nodded absentmindedly at first. However, he soon noticed that something was off.

"Is there a reason to this revelation?" he asked, a tad too sarcastically than he had intended perhaps.

"The second thing she says is: 'Did Mr. Havoc drive you here?'" Beregond answered softly. "Every time."

Havoc caught himself faltering. Was Beregond really telling him that...?

But he immediately shook his head.

"She's leaving."

"That doesn't mean you can't keep some kind of contact with her," Beregond insisted. "Do you really want to stop hearing news from her?"

Havoc didn't answer.

"I'll take that as no." There was a small pause before Beregond spoke again. "I'll tell you what. Once she gets settled in Central, I'll give you her address and phone-number."

Havoc tried to object. "Beregond--"

But the Gondorian kept on, undeterred. "What you will do with them though, it's entirely up to you."

Havoc swallowed for a few moments, not sure what he should say. In the end, he just smiled weakly, because he could only admit it now.

Beregond's determination proved downright scary at times.

TBC...
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