Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Roy Mustang had been a private detective long enough to never be surprised by what rich people would spend their money on. He could have gone to college, maybe joined the military, but growing up in his Mother's bar had shown him there was a much more lucrative and mentally engaging career out there for him and it was in private investigations. He had a way of thinking that allowed him to see connections that most people would miss and he could fit in in any situation which made him a perfect candidate for the job. This particular job, however, was going to be a waste of his intelligence but certainly paid enough to be worth his time. He took a moment to decide on taking the job, but made Armstrong wait for a full minute before finally sitting down in the chair and accepting the offer. "I'll take the case."
Thaddeus Armstrong breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you Mr. Mustang, I know you are discreet and careful about your work. I hope my reservations about Miss Catalina are wrong, but you do understand how I can not risk my son or the Armstrong family being ruined by a gold-digger."
Roy gave an understanding nod that did not betray his real thoughts. He always found amusement in the ridiculous lines people came up with when they explained their reasons for hiring him. The truth here was that the Armstrong family wanted Alex Armstrong's fiance gone, and if that meant breaking Alex's heart by showing him pictures of her deception or hearing recordings of her confessing that she was interested in money not love….well they would be here to comfort him and only occasionally say 'I told you so'. That was none of his concern though. "Please tell me as much background as you can."
"Rebecca Catalina is a showgirl." Thaddeus said with a heavy sigh. "Sings, dances….lets rich men buy her things. My son fell head over heels in love with her. Proposed. They are planning to wed in Aquroya and I have managed to detain him for business here in Central for a few days. His fiance will go ahead and ensure plans are in place for the wedding. He has given her a blank check and I…am ashamed I have raised such a blind fool."
Roy nodded. "She will be traveling alone?"
"No, she will travel with her best friend and maid of honor. The girl who sings and dances with her in the show. Her name is Riza." Armstrong said. "They leave on the train tomorrow using my Pullman car as their own. Mr. Mustang I need you to watch Rebecca and report to me her loyalty to my son and her intentions if she will divulge them. Please sir, the wedding is this weekend, so I need quick results."
Roy watched the man pull an envelope from his desk drawer. "Yes, sir."
Roy was not disappointed in the least by the amount of activity on the train. Rebecca Catalina was in full celebration mode, buying rounds and keeping the dining car lively from the minute the train left the station. He was worried this would be a difficult job, that she would have enough sense to keep herself hidden away in the private car, but he was rather fortunate that she was not inclined to be quiet about her upcoming nuptials. He was glad he got a seat early as the train car was packed to capacity within a half an hour of her 'open bar' announcement.
He sat within earshot of the bar for hours. Rebecca showed off her ring, talked about her dress and finally flirted a little bit too much with a very married man by the name of Yoki who owned a diamond mine out East. It was bad enough the man's wife pulled him away and out of the car, but he could see the glint in Yoki's eye and the not so subtle wave that said he was far from done with their conversation about the rock on her finger. He studied the man's face, knowing that this could be the individual who would get him his incriminating photos. He had yet to determine if Rebecca was simply a flirt or was the loose woman the Armstrong family feared she was. It was, however, quite the spectacle as the girl was loud and the life of the party. He was also apparently going to get a free show as someone brought in a record of a song the showgirl happened to be a fan of. She called her friend Riza over, shouting above the hum of the crowd for her friend to join her on the bar for a display of what made them popular.
Roy leaned back and wondered how this was going to go as these two ladies danced on a bar on a moving train. The crowd however was thrilled and took their seats, clearing the way for these girls to put on some impromptu number in the crowded car. They would not be disappointed. Rebecca entered from the head of the train and her friend Riza from the back. They sang a song that had been wildly popular this year called "Again" as they walked down the aisle towards each other. Roy found himself entranced, they were exceptionally good at what they did. They sang in harmony, advanced towards each other with perfect strides and met in the middle during a key part of the song…then separated to dance while they sang towards either end of the bar. With practiced precision and elegance he couldn't quite comprehend from two ladies wearing high heels steeping up chairs and bar stools, they finally reached the bar-top and the real show began.
Roy found himself not paying attention to Rebecca anymore, but to her friend. He always did prefer blonds, honestly, but that was not what he found so incredibly attractive about her. Despite being in a profession that required him to scrutinize emotions and motives, he couldn't think beyond the fact that she was beautiful and athletic as she took her hair out of that hair clip and threw it into the audience. At least he could think clearly enough to go over and pick it up out of the aisle so he could give it back to her. Or not think clearly at all because the worst thing he could do was be noticed by these two when he was working a case.
The song ended and the car erupted in applause and whistling. Roy held the hair clip and realized it was too late to turn back now. Perhaps he could use this as a way to get closer to the girls which would help him get recordings if needed. Photo opportunities on the train car would be difficult. He waited for a little while, another round of shots for the crowd courtesy of Rebecca, and he saw the other girl trying to find her way back to a table. He stood up and got her attention. "Miss, I believe this is yours."
Riza smiled at him, he was handsome and looked like he wasn't even trying hard to look that good: Messy hair that almost covered those intoxicating dark eyes, and pinchable cheeks. She hoped he would be the one to pick the clip up. "Thank you."
"I'm Roy." He said and waved to the empty seat opposite him. "Would you join me for something to eat? I'd offer to buy you a drink but it looks like your friend has that covered."
"I'd love to." Riza smiled and put her hair up before taking a seat. He had ordered appetizers and she was starving. Rebecca was like a whirlwind normally, it only got worse when she was excited about an upcoming event. There was no time for necessities like food.
"So what's the occasion?" Roy asked and watched her pick out a mozzarella stick from his plate.
"My friend is getting married." Riza said. "This weekend."
"Usually you outsource the dancing at a bachelorette party." Roy said. "Incredible dancing by the way, I had my doubts about your stability in a moving train car."
Riza smiled. "Occupational hazard I guess, why let someone else have the fun?"
"Is that what you do for a living?" Roy asked and she answered without any shame, she was quite content with her life choices. He liked that in a girl.
"Yes, we have a show at the Grand Hotel.." Riza said and tried a fried dough ball. "I should say we are the show."
"Yeah, the Grand is a little above my pay grade." He said.
"And what do you do Mr. Mustang?" She asked.
"I'm a journalist." He answered. It was his standard response. It was close to what he did and it gave him a reason for watching, studying and traveling.
Riza was amazed that she could be having a normal conversation with a man only ten minutes after she had danced on a bar top. Most men would have already been implying they were interested in a private showing, maybe this one just took a little longer to get around to that. Too early to get her hopes up. "Are you heading to East City to cover the Olympics? I was talking with those gentlemen over there who are on their way to some qualifiers for track and field."
Roy turned around and looked at the men in question. God. They were all buff and ready to explode out of their shirts. He hoped that wasn't her type. He had nice abs, but was a long way from having biceps that could lift this train car off it's tracks. "Uh, no. I'm going to Aquroya for a travel piece about the sinking city."
"Really? That's where my friend is going for her wedding!" Riza said and leaned over to whisper. "I'm having to plan this for her without much preparation. If you know something about the city it would be a great help. I could introduce you to the Olympians over there if you want something that might get you published in a better section than Travel. Mr. Miles and Mr. Scar have some interesting stories. Mr. Havoc has that hometown hero thing going on for him."
Roy cocked his head. He liked that she knew the value of articles in certain sections of the paper over others. That showed promise, it wasn't common knowledge. "I'm on a tight deadline, unfortunately, but I appreciate you trying to get me a some attention for a special interest piece versus the travel section."
"Least I can do for you saving my hair clip and sharing your food." She smiled.
"I'd be happy to share my research with you about Aquroya, but at this point it's all places of interest and history that you probably don't care about." He said. "I just realized I didn't get your name."
"Riza Hawkeye." She said and put her hand out to shake. "It's nice to meet you Roy….sorry your last name was?"
"Mustang." He said and took her hand and gave it a kiss. He knew she was looking to shake, but thought the added flourish would hit a mark. He looked up and she was blushing.
Riza wasn't used to being treated like a lady, she was used to being looked down upon for being a showgirl. That was what Rebecca said had really made her think twice about Alex, he treated her like a goddess not a dancer. "I should get back to planning the wedding. Maybe I'll see you again at dinner?"
It was Roy's turn to blush. "I'd like that very much. 6 pm?"
"Sounds early enough. Rebecca probably wants to party all night before this train reached it's destination." Riza stood up. "I'll see you tonight Mr. Mustang."
The train made a few stops and he was able to move around more when it did. Most stops were in excess of twenty minutes because of train traffic and passengers would disembark to visit the local train depot or vendors to pass the time. It was at one of these stops when he was able to finally get the information he was here for thanks to Yoki, the mine owner.
He knew more about Yoki than Rebecca, mainly because the man was arrogant and a braggart and was trying to use his fortune to woo the pretty young showgirl in the quickest fashion he could. Time was limited for Yoki since he was on his way back East and his wife was in their own train car. He had to try to make progress with Rebecca whenever he could. It was a good thing Yoki had money because he sure didn't have tact or a winning personality. He was trying to win her over by talking about the mining business. Idiot.
"I like a little danger in my life. Like mining, " Yoki played with his mustache. "Snakes, shaft collapse. Danger around every corner."
The only snake here was him. Roy rolled his eyes as he took out his camera and snapped some shots of the train from the windows.
Rebecca spun the postcard rack and said, "That's terrible. Something so gorgeous always comes with such a heavy cost."
"We take safety precautions, got to protect the poor miners. And the snakes...at least it's just snakebites, we have anti-venom to cure that." Yoki said. "In some places they have snakes that will wrap around you and crush you."
Roy moved around and tried to get a better angle of them. It wouldn't surprise him if Yoki offered to show her the 'snake' in his pants next. Rebecca jumped as Yoki ran over and wrapped his arms around her, and Roy snapped the pictures.
"Squeeze you just like this!"
Rebecca tried to laugh off the attempt to fondle her that was passed off as 'demonstration of python's ability to strangle it's prey'. God, like she hadn't been the victim of that 'snake attack' before. Men were so fucking stupid.
Roy heard the 'all aboard' and left the depot with his camera in hand. He advanced the film with the dial as he walked back to the train and almost ran into Riza. The shock of that, of being almost caught taking an incriminating photo of her best friend, made him look guilty for a split second. He composed himself and said. "I'm so sorry!"
Riza looked at Roy then to the camera. Why did he look guilty? He was just taking travel pictures. "No I wasn't looking where I was going, my apologies Mr. Mustang."
Roy pointed to the train, "Better hurry up or you'll be late to that wedding."
"I have to get the bride." Riza said and walked into the dept to see Yoki with his arms around Rebecca. Suddenly it all made sense. Roy's look. The camera. These two. She stormed over and grabbed Rebecca's hand. "Train is leaving, we need to go."
Rebecca huffed and was practically dragged over to the train, she managed to pull herself loose from her best friend's grasp. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
"What is wrong with you!" Riza snapped. "Roy, that guy I am having dinner with, had a camera with him at the depot. He was leaving just as I was coming to get you. He looked guilty when I surprised him, I think he took pictures of you..."
"What do you mean he took pictures of me?" Rebecca asked. "Shit! I bet Alex's Dad had him follow me! He's trying to stop the wedding!"
"Although I would ordinarily shoot down your jump to conclusions, I am inclined to say that is probably the case. There is nothing in that town he should be taking photos of because it is a waste of film." Riza pinched the bridge of her nose. "Why are you flirting with that idiot? WHY?"
"Men are dumb, they'll just give you things if they get some attention." Rebecca replied honestly.
"You have to stop this, you have to stop manipulating men for gifts. You're getting married!" Riza sighed. "If we can figure out how to get that film back."
"Get him drunk. Get the film back." Rebecca said. "That man likes you. Bring him back to the Pullman and search him for that film. He'll have it on him if it's really important."
"Why is this my mission?" Riza asked. "This is your mess?"
"Because you're my best friend and I..screwed up."
"Fine." Riza said and closed her eyes. "I really liked him."
"Well he's taking pictures of me and…that's shady."
"And you are flirting and letting some nasty mine mogul put his hands on you when you are getting married in three days." Riza said. "This is exactly why the Armstrongs are worried about you. Dammit Rebecca, we're not having to do this to survive anymore. You have something good, don't ruin it."
"Old habits are hard to break." She replied. "I promise, I'll stop. Please…please get that film back."
"What is with you girls and shots?" Roy asked as he held another round of whiskey in front of himself and rubbed his eyes. He appreciated that he had been invited to the private train car for dinner with Riza, but had quickly been suckered into a card game. He was losing. Riza was quite the poker player and he was finding out she had an incredibly high tolerance for alcohol.
"It's part of my job." Riza said and put down another winning hand. "They don't pay me for singing and dancing, they pay me for bringing in the patrons and encouraging them to spend money."
"I get it." Roy waved and realized he was going to have to drink this as a price to pay for losing a hand. Why couldn't it be strip poker? He'd show what real abs looked like, to hell with those Olympians. "My Mom owns a bar. I grew up there."
"Really?" Riza asked as he finally drank and she watched him close his eyes and swallow. She liked him more and more, which made it hard for her to follow through with her mission.
"Yes." Roy said and put the shot glass down. "Not as classy as the Grand. Not as reputable. Christmas's Bar, every hear of it?"
"Actually I have." Riza said. His Mom owned a brothel? Dear god, no wonder he wasn't judgmental. "We send frustrated men there when they learn we're not for sale and the hotel concierge will arrange for the girls there to visit with guests."
"Yes." Roy nodded and his head hurt. "They do that."
"You look like you need to lay down."
"Yes." Roy replied and stood and wobbled a little. He didn't even realize Riza was beside him before she took his arm. "You really are good at cards."
"You should see me play chess." She said.
"God…are you even real?" He asked and she helped him over to the couch. "You're beautiful, atheltic and smart and... I can't even be mad you lured me here and got me drunk."
She put a pillow on the couch and pushed him back onto it. "You saw though it and still came?"
As she leaned over him, he couldn't help but smile. God she was beautiful. "I thought you were keeping me busy while your friend searched my room."
"I…knew the film would be valuable and you wouldn't store it there." She said and started to frisk him. She started with his shirt pockets and hated herself for feeling the muscles underneath and wishing this was on different terms. "So who are you really? Do you work for the social section of the paper?"
"No." Roy replied honestly as she worked her way down his shirt and he remained powerless to to anything about it. The alcohol hit him hard. It was good shit. The Armstrongs didn't spend money on any less. Her hands felt nice though. "I'm a private eye."
"A dick?" She asked as she ran her hand over his pant pocket and then blushed realizing the double meaning behind it all.
"No, that's on the left. You're fondling film."
She put her hand in his pocket and grabbed the roll of film and leaned closer to him. His eyes were watery and glazed over, his breath stank of booze and he looked so helpless. "I meant 'Dick' as in Private detective."
"Yes, that too." He replied and tried to move, but knew if he did he'd just get sick. The alcohol and the movement of the train was not a good combination. A terrible thing to feel this sick while underneath a beautiful woman.
She palmed the film and then placed a light kiss on his lips. "I have to save my best friend. This will ruin her and it's not what is happening."
"She's lucky to have you watching out for her." He said and closed his eyes to succumb to the effects of drinking way too much. He just needed to close his eyes a little while to stop the room from spinning.
"I wish would could have been in this position under different circumstances. I really do like you, Roy Mustang." Riza said and stood up. She looked down at the film and shook her head, annoyed that she was playing into some damned stereotype about her job. She put the film in her cleavage and then went to leave, looking over her shoulder at the man on the couch who she didn't want to leave. She sighed and left the car, walking down the train to the dining car, smiling at people as they passed. Men gave her lecherous looks thanks to her show earlier, looks she couldn't help but note that Roy had never given her. Not while she was dancing on the bar or sitting in front of him in a private car playing cards or straddled over him on the couch. He looked at her like she was really something, and that was a hard thing to fake. She took a deep breath and walked into the dining car and went to the bar. She put her hand in her cleavage, the bartender raised an eyebrow, and then she handed the film roll to her best friend without a word.
"I knew I could count on you!" Rebecca said. She took the roll of film and then looked at her best friends face which said that she was not at all thrilled with the success. "What?"
"I liked him." Riza said and shrugged as she leaned on the bar. "He was different."
"Look, there will be plenty of available rich guys at the wedding. " Rebecca said and nudged her.
"I'm not like you. I'm not just looking for a man who is strong and rich to get you out of this life." Riza said. "Honestly I don't think you want that either."
"I do like money." Rebecca said and then tapped the film roll on the bar-top. "I guess I've just enjoyed that aspect of this relationship way too much. It's the novelty of it I guess, the trust Alex gave me to do what I wanted and now I almost blew it all. He's got a good heart and I've never had anyone really treat me like he does. Thanks for getting this…I'm sorry if I ruined something with that guy."
"Destroy that film, please." Riza said and left. The least she could do was keep watch over Roy while he slept and maybe get him a bucket to throw up in if he needed it. It was up to her to salvage this. She knew from the girls that used to 'work' the hotel customers, that Madam Christmas was not just a brothel owner but also dealt with information and blackmail. Certainly Roy couldn't hold it against her that she was forced to play that game.
When she got back to the Pullman, he was already gone.
Rebecca excused herself from her party early, knowing that another bar-top dance could be photographed or used against her. She didn't think anything of it, she was a showgirl and she loved to show off, but her future father-in-law was clearly not going to be very tolerant of that. She didn't need reports of her 'behavior' getting back to Central, especially since she wasn't sure how many people saw Yoki getting frisky with her.
And what a fool she was to risk everything over a weasel like him.
When she let herself back into the Armstrong private car she was expecting a drunk man and a disappointed best friend, but instead she saw a naked Yoki with his 'snake' on display. "What. The. Hell."
"Careful, it spits." Yoki said and grinned. He patted the couch cushion next to him and smiled. "I bet you can tame it though."
Rebecca held up the film, never one to let an opportunity slip past her. It was almost instinctual to react this way. "See this? This is photographic proof of you getting a little handsy the last time you tried to demonstrate your slimy slithery nature back at the depot. So get your pants on and get out of here unless you want me to hand deliver this to your wife."
Yoki pulled a shirt over his lap as he felt his Little Yoki soften and retreat. "I'm sorry….I see there has been a...miscommunication."
"Yeah, like when I said I was interested in your 'family jewels'. " Rebecca said and flashed her diamond ring. "I meant these stones."
"Perhaps we can reach some sort of agreement." Yoki said and pulled his pants over and started to get dressed.
Even better, he didn't wear underwear and was rubbing those jewels on the couch. Still he was in flight mode and she felt a surge of power and couldn't resist asking, "Like what?"
"Like I give you a few of those gems for what you're holding right now and we forget about this matter." Yoki said and stood as he got his pants on. He slipped into his shirt. "I have a necklace in my car, it's a little big for my wife but certainly would not too heavy if supported by your amble chest."
Rebecca wrapped her hand around the roll of film. It was so hard to get out of this game. "I'm listening."
Riza was relieved to get off the train in Aquroya. She searched the train during the rest of the trip but couldn't find Mustang and just opted to let him go and think about what could have been and leave it at that. Maybe when they got back to Central she could visit his office or…..just leave it alone. She should just take his disappearance as his response to her betrayal and write it off as another guy who just didn't work out. It was easier said than done. She thought a lot about his eyes under that shaggy mess of hair and how they did not say he was anything but understanding. She also thought about how nice it was to roll her hands over that linen shirt and feel what was hidden underneath or the dick joke when she had her hand in his pants. He had a lot to drink and that was when men typically showed their real nature.
It was a collection of odd things that kept her thinking about him and one very distinct thing that made her know he wasn't gone.
"I'm sorry Miss Catalina, but your reservation has been canceled and the bank has sent over a note stating your line of credit has been revoked."
The two ladies looked at the hotel manager, Rebecca with disbelief and Riza with a blink of realization. Riza tugged on her best friend's arm and said, "Get on the payphone now and call your fiance. Explain it all. Truth, absolute truth."
"I….haven't been absolutely honest with you, Riza." Rebecca said and her friend turned to her not with a look a anger but one of sadness. She knew what that meant. "It's been a hard life, you catch breaks when you can and Yoki presented himself to me…..as in naked…and I just ran with it. He was in a compromising position so I told him I'd give the film to his wife and tell her he was in our car naked. He offered a necklace….diamond necklace in trade for the film. It's men like him that made me like this. God, they make it so easy to manipulate them."
"You were supposed to destroy that!" Riza hissed.
"I turned it into diamonds, that's what I do." Rebecca said. "I took a lump of ugly coal and turned it into diamonds. And believe me he had a nasty sack of coal."
"Well I appreciate your honestly but I doubt that had anything to do with the Armstrongs cutting you off. Even if Yoki made the connection and wanted to ruin you, he wouldn't have a way to get the photos to them that quickly." Riza pushed her friend towards the phone. "Just try to explain it all to Alex. He loves you for who you are. He might not be able to truly understand what your life is like and how it made you who you are, but he does listen when you tell him. So go."
"It's your boyfriend isn't it? He did this." Rebecca asked. "The dick."
"He's not a dick he's just doing his job." Riza said defensively.
"I meant dick as in P.I." Rebecca said and then went over to the payphone. That was a conversation best left for later when she wasn't in danger of losing her future.
Riza walked into the center of the lobby. She looked around and looked for him, knowing he wouldn't just strand them there. She knew this was another high stakes game they were playing, a real life game of chess, and he had just called checkmate. She wasn't sure how to get out of this, but to start she had to know how screwed they were. Then she spotted him by the entrance, he stood out against the crowd with his dark eyes and hair and long black trench coat. As soon as they made eye contact he folded his newspaper and walked over to her. "I took the pictures, what else did you have?"
"I put a recording device under the table when you were clearly going to get me drunk." Roy admitted. "I also set the alarm on my watch to go off at the same time, gave myself an hour before you were going to render me unconscious. Nothing like an Amestris Pocket Watch Company alarm to wake you up."
"You wouldn't say that if you saw me crawl out of that car and puke in the hall." Roy said. "My recording device was in the freight car, I spent the rest of the journey in there with some sheep and an awful hangover. Sheep...smell awful. On our arrival I played the recording for Mr. Armstrong and fulfilled my contract."
"Rebecca refused Yoki." Riza said. "She said she blackmailed him."
"My job is not to interpret, it is to gather the evidence and present it to the client." Roy said. "I'm sorry, but you gave her the opportunity to destroy the film and instead she gave me even more compelling evidence. I do have two return tickets for you to Central…."
They both fell silent as the Police arrived in the lobby of the hotel. Riza watched the head of the police unit walk to the counter and ask about Rebecca. They both listened and Riza was shocked when she overheard that Rebecca was wanted for jewel theft!? That bastard Yoki! She looked over and Rebecca was already gone, she was a girl with a lot of street sense and never needed to be told twice to vanish when the cops showed up. "I appreciate it Mr. Mustang, but I think you've already done enough for us."
"I didn't do this." He said and Riza gave him an apologetic smile.
"I know." She replied and paused. What did she really want to say to him? "I think it best if you stayed out of this as it seems like things are going from bad to worse. I'd like to protect someone, even if I'm doing a terrible job of protecting my best friend."
Roy watched her leave and pulled out his PI license and walked over to one of the cops. "Gentlemen, I think we're looking for the same girl."
"Alex is almost here." Rebecca said. "I just need more time!"
Riza sighed. They had been on the run for two days and the police were closing in on them. They were hiding in the hotel theater storage closet and she was sick of running. "You need to confess, you need to just tell the truth."
"I can't!" Rebecca cried. "Not until he hears it from me first."
"Then go. Go find him at the train station and I'll take care of the police." Riza said and browsed the costume shelves and pulled out a brunette wing and held it out to her best friend. She took out her hair clip and said. "You can braid my hair so it will be hidden under that, can't you? You remember the old days when we didn't have someone doing our make up and hair, right?"
"You think you…can pretend to be me?" Rebecca asked, seeing where this was going.
"I'm your best friend, of course I can."
"No offense Riza, but my first instinct is to dance on the bar and yours is to polish off the scuff marks while I do. You wouldn't be in this except for me." Rebecca said. "From the beginning, you have been watching over me and I kept dragging you along into all this. I told myself the money was good and we got each others backs, but I think you might have been happier on some guy's arm…ballroom dancing."
"It got me away from home." Riza admitted. "That's what mattered. There was no future in the dance lessons I had, you gave me the only outlet where that could be a living. I am thankful for that. So now, I need to get you that dream of ballroom dancing on that guy's arm. 'Cause you're ready to stop playing this game, you're ready to have someone look at you instead of ogle."
"Speak for yourself. He ogles me…and my muscles." Rebecca smirked. "All of them."
"Do you want to be saved or not?" Riza demanded.
"Fine. Wig looks great." Rebecca went over and got a hair net and some pins. "What is the plan?"
"I'm going to turn myself in. Me, Rebecca Catalina. I'll figure things out." Riza said.
"That's not a plan."
"You need to get to Alex. That is the plan. The rest I'll work out."
Roy tried to follow the investigation but the local police were hardly interested in being one-upped by a PI from Central. Luckily he found the hotel detective to be amiable and eager to help. Maes Hughes was a stand up guy, even if he was obnoxious as hell, and he had romantic side to him that made him want to assist him in finding Riza. Roy wasn't really thrilled about him referring to her as "your future wife" but considering all the information he was giving him, he really didn't want to complain.
It was thanks to this information that he learned of Miss Catalina turning herself in to the police in order to prove her innocence. He went to the police station and found out that this small town typically sent everyone before the judge immediately due to the time limitations vacationers had to deal with legal matters. Getting in would have been impossible had it not been for Hughes and his obnoxious need to flaunt pictures in everyone's faces, the distraction allowed him to slip into the courtroom just in time to see a brunette on the stand that was not Rebecca Catalina and Yoki throwing a fit declaring her a fraud.
The courtroom was loud and the judge was slamming his gavel trying to bring things to order. Apparently an attraction not listed in the brochures was this mockery of the justice system. It was less like a courtroom and more like one of those mid-day reality shows where a crude judge handled small claims court and people made asses out of themselves. He looked around and saw the recording equipment and realized that this was where that dumb show was broadcast from.
He looked around for a seat and found none, so he stood in the aisle and managed to catch 'Miss Catalina's' eye. He blinked. There was no mistaking Riza, even with the wig. The Judge managed to settle down the audience and Yoki immediately squealed about that not being the woman who stole his wife's necklace. So that was what this was about. More than likely Yoki wanted to let the matter slide but his wife discovered the missing jewelry and remembered the flirtatious girl at the bar. He probably had no idea this would go before a judge like this and Riza played her hand well, now she would be able to broadcast the truth to the entire country. He wasn't sure why Rebecca couldn't do this herself.
"As I was saying, your Honor, Mr. Yoki got very hands on at the train station…if you know what I mean. Wrapped his arms around me to fondle me talking about snakes. Trouser snakes more like it. There was a journalist there who got pictures, I ended up with them in my possession and I came back to my fiance's Pullman car to see Mr. Yoki naked! " Riza said in her best Rebecca impersonation and the crowd gasped. Mrs. Yoki began beating her husband with her purse. "He offered to give me the necklace in exchange for the photos and I thought that was a fair payment."
Yoki stood up, "This testimony should be inadmissible because that woman is NOT Miss Catalina!"
Roy knew if this went further he would see Riza face charges for perjury. He stepped forward and opened his mouth, "Your honor, may I approach the bench?"
Riza had to act quick or Roy would ruin everything. "I have this friend, Riza, who has been trying very hard to help me with this problem of mine. I think I'm helping men make asses of themselves and just take the gifts they want to shower me with, but Riza tells me I need to stop because I have a man I love and this is embarrassing to his family. I didn't understand I had so much to lose until now and I see…well I see that my friend, Riza, might be losing someone she really is fond of too."
Roy stared at her. God, the wig she was wearing was just awful but under it was intense brown eyes that told him that she was relying on him to not make a scene. That she needed his help.
"And this boyfriend of hers, he's a real understanding guy. I think she might be falling for him, I don't blame her cause those good ones are hard to find. The ones that look past the showgirl and see there's a girl who's had to fight hard to make it in this world. That the clothes or lack there of, don't mean we're less human. Unlike Mr. Yoki."
Roy blinked. Well damn.
"He's a dick though, I don't think Riza holds it against him." Riza said and bit her lip as Roy looked at her and smiled. Then she remembered she was supposed to be Rebecca here and her best friend wouldn't let an opportunity slip to shock her audience. "I think she'd be happy if he held it against her though."
And there it was a smile on his lips when he should have been crying out that this was an impostor. "I'm sorry, your honor, this can't be anyone else but Miss Catalina with that mouth."
The judge had enough and realized this was probably going to get the broadcasting company fined for indecent language if it went on too long. He slammed his gavel. "Mr. Yoki, what you engaged in was a private transaction to secure goods. You exchanged film for diamonds. This is not a case for the court and I am dismissing charges. Perhaps you and your wife would like to appear on divorce court in the next session? "
Riza stood up and added a little more swagger as she walked towards the exit accompanied by the bailiff. Yoki was being laughed at by the audience and hit by his wife. Her job was done.
Roy quickly pushed through the crowd and exited the courtroom. He took long strides and went to the lobby where he found Hughes again. "Where is exit? Do you know? Where do they the release the people that were on trial?"
"Yeah." Hughes put his pictures away and waved goodbye to the annoyed cops. He walked with his new friend out the front doors and then made a left at the sidewalk and walked around back. "I guess it all went OK?"
"Better than OK."
"Wedding in your future?" Hughes asked.
Roy gave him a glare. This guy didn't quit. Before he could answer he heard Riza behind him.
"Yes, actually." Riza said and walked up to him and saw him at a complete loss for words. "My best friend, Riza, doesn't have a date for the wedding. Are you available Mr. Mustang?"
Roy smiled and reached out to touch the wig she was wearing. "Yeah, I actually prefer blondes."
She gave him a smile and said, "I believe my issues with credit may have cleared up, can you take me back to the hotel? There is a wedding to plan."
Mr. Armstrong said nothing about the appearance of Roy Mustang on the arm of Rebecca Catalina's best friend. He said nothing about his son crying and being barely able to get out his wedding vows. He said nothing, until it was time to greet the new couple and address the former showgirl as the new Mrs. Armstrong. An illustrious name, passed down for generations, now going to be passed down through her. He couldn't just say nothing. "Are you going to tell me you didn't marry my son for money?"
"Yes, actually." Rebecca replied with a satisfied smirk.
"Then what did you marry him for?"
"I married him for your money." She countered and heard a snort from Alex's older sister, Olivier. Alex's father left and Olivier turned to her.
"The stunt you pulled with the radio court show and that man Yoki was actually quite a clever move." Olivier had to admit.
"I had a great friend who never turned her back on me." Rebecca said and winked at Riza who looked good in that bridesmaid dress, but even better with that man she was beside. There was a glow about her, the kind of shine no diamond in the word could hold a candle to.
"We can be intelligent when we want to be." Riza said. "We've just learned that most men don't appreciate that."
Olivier laughed. "Isn't that the damned truth!"
Roy watched Alex cry more and damned near squeeze Rebecca to death and she laughed and squeezed him back. They made their way to the dance floor, happy newlyweds, overcoming the odds and looking at a bright future. He looked to his own date and said, "Want to dance?"
Riza took his hand and followed him to the dance floor and was pleasantly surprised he was a good dancer. "Well, now that Rebecca is retiring I should be looking for a new dance partner. You're not bad. "
"I sing too." He said and she cocked an eyebrow. "Not sure I can manage the high heels and acrobatics of dancing on a moving bar though. "
"I'll start you out slow and work you up to it." She promised.
"Actually I was thinking that I might have enough work to add a partner to my detective agency." He said and she looked at him surprised, as if she really wasn't accustomed to anyone valuing her for her intelligence. He was going to have to change that. "I like what I see, Miss Hawkeye, you are quite the strategist."
"Maybe we can do both." She said. "Does your schedule allow for evenings off?"
"If they're with you, absolutely."
"And if I'm dancing at the Grand?" She asked. "Would that be a problem for you? Knowing a girl you're seeing is being seen by all those men doing shows like I do?"
"If it makes you happy and it's what you want, I would never dream of asking you to stop." He replied. "But I've mentioned before it's a little above my social status and I'd prefer you not go where I can't follow.
"Are you real, Mr. Mustang?" She asked repeating a question he posed to her on the train. "Beautiful and smart and…athletic. I'm rather impressed with how well you move your hips."
Roy bit his lip and tried to not make another dick joke. It was, however, becoming their 'thing'. "It comes in handy, as a dick, when you need to slip in places."
"Is that a requirement for your profession?" She smiled and he had the most adorable grin on his face. They were both trying to not laugh. "Enter tight spots…."
Roy finally laughed and she joined him with the most beautiful laugh he had ever heard. She moved closer to him to put her head on his shoulder to try and press back tears and he wrapped his arms around her to hold her close and enjoy the contact. He looked over and saw Hughes snapping pictures of them and he gave the man a smile and received an approving thumbs up in response. "Let's enjoy the weekend together and figure out the rest on the train home on Sunday. Sound good?"
She picked her head up and gave him a warm smile and then leaned up and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then a soft kiss on the lips when she remembered he was barely conscious the last time. "Sounds perfect."