Riza woke up to snow falling gently outside, the sound of water running, and the smell of coffee wafting in from the kitchen. The coffee was Gracia, of course. The running water was probably Roy, in the shower, using up the scant supply of hot water. The warm body next to her in the bed was therefore Maes.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” he said, his voice rumbling in her ear.
She stretched. “How did we all fit in the bed last night?” she marveled, yawning.
Maes leaned down and kissed her collarbone. “The squishing power of love,” he opined, cheerfully. “Love, and me kicking Roy’s ass out onto the floor in the middle of the night.”
Riza frowned. “You didn’t!” she said. “Did you?”
Maes grinned. “Someone had to go! You girls looked so peaceful cuddled up together, and it’s my bed, after all. Don’t worry; I gave him pillows. Pillows and a handjob. He went to sleep happy.”
Riza sighed. There was no way of telling whether Maes was being serious or not. She ran a hand through her hair- it was getting longish. She’d have to decide for certain whether she wanted to cut it soon. “Is Gracia making breakfast?” she asked. “Should I help?”
“Definitely not,” Maes said. Suddenly, he flipped over on top of her, holding himself up just enough so that his weight wasn’t crushing her. His body was warm and solid against hers. He looked down at her, his hair falling into his face, that stupid grin still on his lips. “We never get to have you two over like this. We intend to pamper you silly. Don’t count on getting out of this bed until the snow stops.”
“Oh, Maes,” Gracia said, coming into the room. “You’re so bossy sometimes.”
“Gracia!” Maes cried happily. “My angel! You’ve brought us coffee in bed! You’re so sweet, my darling. Isn’t she sweet, Riza?”
Riza looked up at him. He was still lying on top of her. “Yes,” she said dryly. “I’ve always thought so. Do you mind letting me up so that I can enjoy the coffee?”
Maes grinned. “Do you promise that you won’t do anything rash, like try getting out of bed?”
Riza sighed. “Am I allowed as far as the bathroom?” she asked.
“Hmmm...” Maes said, as though he was considering it thoughtfully.
“Maes, sweetheart,” Gracia said, with a tone of exasperation, “Never get between a woman and the toilet first thing in the morning.” She gently pulled Maes off of Riza, kissing him in the process. “Riza, darling, I’m sorry he’s such a barbarian.”
“A barbarian and a morning person,” Roy complained, coming out of the shower, a towel in his hair. Riza looked up. Roy was beautiful, and she almost never got to see him this way. Her chest ached, watching him stretch and towel his head, muscles playing under pale skin.
“Roy boy!” Maes called, cheerfully, and jumped out of bed.
Roy made a face. “Maes,” he said, his voice pained. “Don’t call me that. Really. Especially not when you’re stark naked.”
Maes pounced on him, dragging him back to the bed. “I was just explaining our plans for the day to Riza.”
“Shouldn’t we report in?” Riza pointed out, sitting up. Her shoulder twinged sharply, but she did her best to cover it. Fortunately, Roy didn’t seem to notice, occupied as he was with Maes enthusiastically kissing him good morning.
“Mmph,” Roy said, struggling. Finally, he managed to wrestle Maes into a headlock. “I already called East HQ,” he said. “The trains aren’t running anyway, so I informed them that we’d be delayed at least a day.”
“I called Central HQ, too,” Maes informed them, cheerfully, from his position against Roy’s chest. “It’s a snow warning, so we can’t leave the house for anything short of a real emergency. HQ knows that you were staying here because of the snow, and that we’re be happy to put you up until the roads are clear again. And there- we have a good, full-of-propriety reason to keep you two here as long as the snow lasts!”
Well, that was duty satisfied, Riza reflected. “I see,” she said, with a little smile. “I’m going to use the bathroom now,” she added, with a pointed look at Maes.
She was brushing her teeth when there was a soft knock on the door that could only be Gracia. “Come in,” she said, rinsing her brush.
Gracia came in and closed the door behind herself. She was the only one of them dressed; a filmy white housecoat. She was carrying a steaming kettle. “Your shoulder is bothering you,” she observed, softly.
Riza nodded, reluctantly. “It always aches when the weather changes,” she said, awkwardly. Barely a year healed, the burn scars were still livid where Riza could see them in the mirror.
“Mmm,” Gracia murmured, setting the kettle carefully on the edge of the tub. “I thought so.”
“I don’t like to bother anyone about it,” Riza said, embarrassed. “Especially Roy-”
Gracia pulled a handtowel out of the cupboard, and folded it carefully. “I know,” she said, simply. “Sit down.”
Riza perched herself on the closed toilet lid, her back to Gracia. It made her tense. Maes and Gracia had seen her back before, of course. They knew what the ink meant, and the scars. Still, Riza hated having anyone look at it.
Behind her, Gracia poured the hot water onto the cloth and laid it gently onto Riza’s shoulder. “You are so lovely,” Gracia breathed, kissing Riza’s neck. Riza stiffened. “You’re strong,” Gracia continued, gently massaging Riza’s shoulder and neck. “I envy that sometimes.”
The heat felt wonderful, and Riza made herself relax into Gracia’s touch. Maes and Gracia were happy and whole, and Riza hated to bring her brokenness and her baggage anywhere near them.
“Oh, love,” Gracia sighed, somehow sensing Riza’s unhappiness. Suddenly she wrapped her arms around Riza, twisting around to kiss her mouth. “It’s okay not to be strong, too. Why don’t you come back to bed and let the rest of us remind you why it’s good to be alive?”
There was knocking on the door again, loud and exuberant. “Gracia, my cherry blossom, have you kidnapped Riza for your own purposes?” Maes said, poking his head in. Riza saw the way he took everything in in a glance, understanding it instantly. There was a reason he was in Investigations. “No, Roy, she didn’t drown in the bathtub,” he said, turning his head. “She and Gracia are just having incredible lesbian sex. Really, I knew that Riza was flexible, but I hadn’t expected that double-jointedness was among my beautiful kitten’s talents.” Riza could hear the thump of a pillow hitting the wall near Maes’s head. “You missed,” Maes announced, brightly. Riza knew that he wouldn’t say anything to Roy.
Riza took the cloth off her shoulder. “It feels better,” she whispered to Gracia. “Thank you.”
As Riza tried to leave the bathroom, Maes swept her up into his arms. “Breakfast awaits, my lady,” he told her, as she protested. He carried her to the bed and laid her gently next to Roy.
“I think we’ve been captured,” Roy said, stretching languidly. “But there are pancakes, at least.” He smiled at her, his dark eyes sparkling with amusement.
“Aren’t they delicious?” Maes enthused. “No one cooks pancakes like my precious girl.”
Riza sighed. “Maes,” she said, sitting up. “I love you dearly, and I’m glad that we have the chance to actually stay over for once. But if you don’t shut up long enough for me to get coffee and breakfast, I will shoot you.”
Maes grinned. “That would be much more convincing if you had a gun on you,” he pointed out, indicating her distinct lack of clothing.
Riza narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure I don’t?” she asked.
Roy sighed, draping an arm around her waist. “Don’t encourage him to search you,” he murmured into her side.
“Maes,” Gracia said, firmly, “Don’t bait her.” She looked up, and there was a wicked glint in her eye. “Roy, darling, would you keep Maes’s mouth busy long enough for me to feed Riza?”
“My pleasure,” Roy purred.
Gracia poured a cup of coffee- no sugar, a little milk- and handed it to Riza. “Would you like syrup on your pancakes?” she asked sweetly. “Or would you prefer a little chopped fruit?”
Riza couldn’t help herself. She laughed, taking the coffee. “Syrup,” she decided. “Thank you, Gracia.”
“Of course,” Gracia said. She handed the plate of pancakes over. Riza reached up and pulled her close, kissing her gently. Smiling, Gracia cuddled in against Riza’s side to watch the show.