The blonde leaned against the bar counter tiredly, his eyes starting to close for the sixth or seventh time. He felt his glasses sliding down his nose, but honestly, he didn't care. Right as he was about to doze off though, he felt a sharp prod in his side, jolting him awake.
The Hungarian women clicked her tongue as he smiled sheepishly at her and fixed his glasses. "Really Alfred, I don't understand why you do this to yourself. How many times have you almost fallen asleep?"
"I dunno honestly.' He said smiling widely at her. "You usually keep track of that for me Elizabeth."
"Oh, I don't know why I put up with you." She said with a sigh.
"Probably because you like my sister so much." He commented dryly as she handed him a cup of coffee. Elizabeth stuck her tongue out and then held up her mixing spoon threateningly, almost as if daring him to say something. He did open his mouth, but a snore interrupted him. Both turned and saw Antonio sleeping at the end of the bar.
"How early did you both set out this morning?" She asked going down to the end and surveying the Spaniard .
"Right before sunrise, so about five." He said with a shrug. "We both wanted to get here."
Elizabeth prodded Antonio with her spoon, frowning when he didn't respond. She prodded him again, slightly harder and yelled, "Hey!" Nothing happened. Finally she slapped him on the back of his head with her spoon, causing him to bolt upright and fall out of his chair.
"SHOW YOURSELF COWARD!" He said looking around widely. He blinked, then looked up at the other two, both wearing amused expressions. "What happened?" He saw Elizabeth's spoon and rubbed the back of his head, as if putting two and two together. "That hurt."
"Next time, I'll use the frying pan."
Alfred snorted and picked up his coffee again, "I thought that was only reserved for the Marshal." Elizabeth glared, and Alfred shrugged it off. "So, how was everything while we were gone? Any rowdy crowds at the bar?"
"No," Both turned and saw a man with dark brown hair and glasses, enter the room from a parlor off to the side. "It was relatively good overall." The bar's owner looked at them as he went behind the bar and kissed his wife's cheek, getting two playful gags from the boys on the other side. Suddenly Alfred went stiff and looked at the man.
"What do you mean overall?"
"About two nights ago, a man tried to pull Cia off the stage during her singing." He said simply. "However, everything was handled, so it is of no matter." He grabbed his own cup of coffee and looked at the two.
"Geez Roderich, every time we leave something always happens." Alfred said dramatically throwing his hands up in the air. "We're gone for three weeks and your singers are getting assaulted!"
"Ya, you really should buy guards Amigo." Antonio said nodding in agreement.
"It is completely unnecessary. No one causes trouble, and those who do are dealt with."
"Ya," All four turned and saw a brunet walking down the stairs, a scowl on her face. "Why should he pay for people to protect us, when you two do it for free?"
Antonio hopped up and practically raced over to the girl, "Lisa! How are you this morning mi amada?" She scowled at him, and went over and sat down next to Alfred. Antonio frowned, but followed her over and resumed his seat.
"Lisa." Alfred said tipping his hat slightly. The girl nodded at him, her scowl fading slightly. "How are you this morning?"
"Awake." She looked back at the stairs and huffed angrily. "More than I can say for my sister and your twin." She grabbed a roll that Elizabeth put in front of her and picked at it. "I guess they would still be tried after last night."
"Ah, so Alfred was able to convince Amelia to stay here!" Antonio said with a smile. "You owe me two dollars hermano!"
Alfred rolled his eyes and glanced at the stairway briefly before returning his attention to the Italian in front of him. "So, how was the event a few nights ago?"
The girl sighed, and began talking with her heavy Italian accent, "It wasn't fun." She saw him raise an eyebrow and she sighed again. "We were singing a song, Amelia was on fiddle, when this guy grabs Cia's arm and pulls her off stage. He was very drunk." She added with a bite in her voice. "Well, Ludwig and Marshal were both in the audience, but the guy didn't seem to care." She laughed slightly, "Amelia jumping off stage and hitting him upside the head with a plate sure got him sober quick."
"She did what?!?!" Alfred said exasperated.
Roderich looked over at the young man, "She jumped off stage and smashed a plate over the idiots head. Not a preferred method, but effective."
Alfred groaned and put his head in his hands. "What am I going to do with that girl? She's going to get herself into so much trouble."
"Isn't that why you taught her how to fight?" Antonio said looking at him. "For those situations?"
"No, I taught her in case she is ever dragged into one." He looked at the stairs and scowled. "I know full well Gilbert and Ludwig could have taken any drunk idiot, they aren't small men. Plus," he looked at Elizabeth, "me and you aren't the only security in this place." The woman smiled deviously and looked at her pots and pans on the stove. "She's going to bite off more than she can chew eventually."
Lisa shrugged. "She can handle herself just fine; She can shoot as well as you, and has even gone on a few of your guide things. You're just a wuss about her." Alfred tugged on a lock of hair teasingly, and she glared at him, a slight blush on her cheeks.
"So, how was the show last night? Was it big, considering how they are both sleeping while bacon is cooking?"
"We didn't have one." Lisa said grabbing another roll.
"Then," Antonio leaned in so his face was in front of hers. "Why are they both so tired?"
Roderich cleared his throat and everyone looked at him. "There was an incident on a train yesterday. One leaving here I am afraid." He held up his hand, stopping the boys' questions before they could ask, "I don't know a lot, but someone was attacked and brought back to town to receive help. The doctor is watching him. The man who brought the poor man in hadn't been in this town before and Felecia showed him to the inn and Amelia took care of his horse I believe. Both also stayed to make sure the boy was okay. Someone is supposed to be coming in today to see him… I think his sister."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes, "Don't know much?" Roderich blushed and hmphed slightly.
"I hope the guy is okay." Alfred said as Elizabeth finally put the bacon and eggs on the counter.
"Yeah," Antonio agreed, helping himself to some of the golden goodness in front of them. "Most people get attacked before or right after they board. I wonder what happened…"
"Oh no!" Elizabeth turned around and pointed her spoon in their faces. "No, not again you two."
"What?" they asked simultaneously.
"Every time you wonder what happened, you get involved, and every time you get involved, you get in trouble and Gilbert has to throw you in jail. Then the girls pay your bond and you go on long guide trips or cattle drives to make up the money and leave them worried for weeks."
"She has a point." Lisa said looking at them angrily. "That is almost exactly how it happens. How did Amelia get on when it was just her and you two? It's bad enough with three of us worrying."
"You worry about me amada?"
"No. But I do worry about my little sister, and she and Amelia both fret over you."
Both boys looked down slightly ashamed. "In my defense," Alfred said not looking up. "I think Gilbert throws me in jail every now and then just for the fun of it."
Roderich laughed, and hastily turned it into a cough under his wife's gaze. She looked back at the boys, both of who were grinning triumphantly at each other now. "Look, just promise you won't get into trouble."
"Now senora, would we ever do that?" Antonio asked innocently.
Lisa made a face at him, "Did you not just hear her whole talk?"
'Your beauty distracted me?"
"WHAT!" he blonde in front of Roderich all but screamed. "My brother got back, and you didn't wake me up!"
"You were up late last night Amelia." Roderich said simply. "Beside's you have a show tonight, so it is best that you slept in." Amelia lowered at him and he sighed as he turned back to the piano. "Look, I did what was best, and you know it. Now, Felicia and Lisa both are waiting for you in the parlor, I think they need to go get new ribbons for tonight. If you with them you will probably find your brother in town."
Amelia stuck her tongue out and went toward the door annoyed, when she stopped and turned back round. "Have you heard anything about that boy yet?"
"Not this morning. It probably wouldn't hurt to check on him though. I think I'll stop at the bakery and get some food for him and the doctor."
"I'll do it." Amelia said seriously. "We will probably stop anyway so I can do that. Plus I was helping last night, so it makes more sense if I do it rather than a nosey bar owner."
Roderich shot her a look, and Cia and Lisa came in grabbing Amelia's arm. "Come on! We have to get new hair ribbons for tonight!" Lisa almost whined as they dragged the girl towards the door.
"And we need to go get some bread at the bakery." Cia threw in excitedly.
Lisa scowled at her sister and Amelia snorted. "Bread. Yeah, that's what you want from the bakery all right."Cia blushed but pulled her towards the door. "Why not stop there first? That way we can get the doctor and his patient some food."
Cia frowned suddenly, worry almost radiating off of her. "Last night, the man said the boy who was attacked was Asian. Do you think it was that nice man whose sister talked with us?"
"I don't know." Amelia said frowning. "I hope not, they were both so nice. And he walked me home after that guy tried pulling you off the stage." She looked at the bakery up ahead. "I wonder if that guy is still locked up."
"Perhaps Marshal will be at the bakery, you can ask him then." Cia offered with a smile. "Maybe he will know more about the boy too."
"BRUDER!" All three stopped as they saw an albino man race out of the bakery, laughing manically. "GET BACK HERE!" A blonde pale man in an apron raced out after the albino looking annoyed.
"You have to catch me first!" The man said laughing from across the street.
Felecia went to race forward, but Amelia put her arm on her friend and directed her toward the general store instead. "Best stay out of it Cia." Amelia said grinning like a cat. She then turned to Lisa and smiled. "So, want to bet on what happened?"
"Gilbert drank the beer bread beer again." Lisa said confidently. "Two dollars."
"You're on! He took Ludwig's best tie, on a day her knew Felecia here," the other Italian blushed at her name, "was coming in to visit him."
"It never is that, so why do you bet on it?"
"Cause its fun." She said opening the General Store's door for the other two.
When they entered the bakery later, Ludwig was behind the counter, working on something with his back facing the door. The girl's sniffed the air, and both Amelia and Cia smiled happily. Lisa though, as normal, scowled. "The bread here smells stale." The blonde man jumped about a foot in the air and wheeled around to see the girls. He relaxed and smiled slightly.
"I didn't hear you come in."
"We're sneaky like that." Amelia said with a wink. Lisa glowered at the man and went to look at some new pastries he had on display. Amelia followed her and Cia walked up to the counter. "What are you doing Ludwig?"
The man blushed and rubbed his neck embarrassed. "Just a small cake."
"Can I see it?" She asked with a blush of her own. The German baker coughed slightly and looked behind him. "It really isn't ready yet…" Cia pouted and the man gulped. "But if you really want to see it you can. It's nothing fancy." He said retrieving the pastry. "Just white frosting with some pink flowers on it."
"It's beautiful!" She said seeing the cake in front of her. "The flowers look like actual daisies!' She said excitedly. "It is excellent." She beamed at him, causing him to blush brilliantly.
"Well, I am actually making it for you." Felicia blinked in surprise and looked at the baker in shock. "The other day when you bought the chocolate cake, you mentioned how much you missed eating your grandfather's Il Pandoro Veronese, so I was attempting to make it for you and your sister."
"Jerk." Lisa said looking at him. "It wasn't our grandfather, it was one of his servants. And you can't make it the Italian way." Amelia didn't look away from the display as she grabbed Lisa and spun her around to look at some of the breakfast rolls. Lisa harshly whispered to Amelia, who grabbed her head and pushed it closer to the display.
Felicia smiled at Ludwig happily as she made her way around the counter, "Don't listen to her, I am very touched. Thank you Ludwig." She hugged the man around his shoulders, being just too short to reach his neck. The man blushed and hugged her back slightly. The others turned and Lisa scowled as Amelia bit her lip and smiled.
"Hey little brother, did I leave my spare gun here?" The Marshal walked in and quickly the two pulled apart looking embarrassed. The man snorted, "Don't stop your tender hug on account of me." He smiled wickedly and sat down at a small tale. "Continue please. Lord knows it would be good to have a woman around here."
"Bruder!" Ludwig and Felicia both turned scarlet while Gilbert and Amelia both howled with laughter. Lisa just scowled and went over to retrieve her sister.
"Hey Amelia!" Gilbert said noticing the other two girls for the first time. "I was just coming to try and find you."
"Oh?" the girl asked as she grabbed some of the rolls off the counter. "If it's about something going on in town, Alfred didn't do it. He just got back."
Gilbert groaned and leaned his head back. "Great, more trouble. I'll probably be throwing him in tonight before your show is done."
"Why do you throw him in jail so often?" Ludwig said as he wiped off the counter looking at his brother. "I have done many things just like him, but I don't have to spend nights in jail."
"That's different." Amelia raised her eyebrow and Gilbert sighed, "I have my reasons okay? It's good character building and he needs to learn to behave responsibly since he has someone to look out for." The marshal looked pointedly at Amelia, "Now, I have something to tell you. I want you to be careful in town."
"That man from two nights ago, well I had to release him today, and he isn't too thrilled with a certain singer and her stunt at the bar the other night." Amelia shrugged. "I want you to be careful, he probably won't try anything, but it's better to not take chances." Amelia shrugged again and went to pay for her rolls. "Now don't give me that! I don't care how great a shot you are, this guy is nuts." When Amelia scowled the albino sighed and looked at her sadly. "Please, just try to stay out of trouble?"
"Fine." She relented. "I'll stay away from him. As much as you guys might think me and Alfred go looking for trouble, honestly, we don't." Gilbert rolled his eyes and Amelia smiled, "Are you coming to the show tonight Marshal? We learned some new songs and numbers. Plus we're trying out a new song on the crowd for Sunday."
"I'll be there. Just be sure you save me a seat toward the middle, so I can keep an eye on all of you." He said putting a hand on Amelia's shoulder. "The whole town worries about you girls, you know."
She beamed and looked over at the other brother who was examining the new ribbons that Felicia was showing him. "And some a little more than others."
"Hey Doc!" Amelia bounded in the door, startling the old man at his desk. "I brought you some breakfast!"
"Oh, Miss Jones, I hadn't heard you come in." He said shuffling some paper's on his desk. She smiled happily at him and placed a roll on his desk. "oh, one of the Ludwig's?" She nodded and he picked it up. "Oh! Raisin!"
"Hey Doc? How's that guy who came in last night? I brought him one too." She held up another roll and the Doctor looked back at his rooms for patients.
"He's still asleep, but it is looking well. The main problem with him was he lost a bit of blood, his wound was not deep and it missed and major arteries. He does have a nice cut and bump but overall it's nothing too bad." The doctor laughed, "He might not even get a scar."
Amelia smiled cautiously. "That's impressive… Hey Smith?… is it… I… I heard he was Asian and on the train that was in yesterday." She hedged slightly as the Doctor Smith raised an eyebrow. She blushed a little and looked back, "Was it him by any chance? I, well… Felicia was worried that it was him. Both he and his sister were really nice and they gave us all nice scarves…" she trailed off as the Doctor watched her amused.
"I am glad to say it was not him. Another man was attacked. When he came in he kept talking about a sister deliriously." He stopped and frowned.
"Roderich mentioned something about a sister coming up today to see him." She said with a nod.
"Yes… maybe that was it…" he frowned a second more and then smiled widely. 'So I hear your brother is back from his trip! Was it cattle drive or Guide trip." The doctor went over and set a plate down for the extra roll she had brought.
"Guide." She shrugged. "I haven't seen him yet, so I have no idea how it went."
"I saw Antonio. Apparently it was uneventful. And they know about the uh… event a couple nights ago." Doctor Smith raised an eyebrow and Amelia rolled her eyes. "Amelia, everyone in town knows about it, honestly, the old ladies have nothing else to gossip about and the young ladies just like to talk about it."
Amelia grimaced and looked outside. "Those girls are just brats."
The Doctor chuckled and began to lead Amelia to the door. "I cannot argue with you there. Now, Amelia, I have to check on my patient. If you see a girl who looks like they are looking for a Doctor office, will you direct them to me/'
"Like tourist get turned to Alfred!" She smiled and kissed the man on the cheek and left. "Thanks Doc!"
"You're welcome Amelia. Oh! And you and your brother stop by sometime this week to eat with us!"
"HERMANA!" She whipped around to see Antonio down the street waving at her happily. She squealed and raced down the street, throwing her arms around the Spaniard excitedly. "It's good to see you too Hermana!"
"Antonio!" She let go and looked the man over. "You need to shave." He laughed and ruffled her hair affectionately. She smiled and hugged him again. "I've missed you! I'm glad you got back alright!"
"Thanks! I wish all of you greeted me this way." He hugged her back and then smiled, "I am glad you are okay too. I heard there was trouble a few days ago." Amelia made a face and he smiled apologetically, "Small towns Hermana, small towns." He stopped suddenly and grabbed a lock of her hair suspiciously. "Did you cut your hair again?"
"Maybe." She said grabbing it and twisting it between her fingers playfully. "I like it better short, it's easier to manage and I think it's cute." She added a little defiantly. "I don't care if it is unladylike. I like it. Plus it's not like I cut it as short as your or Alfred's hair."
Antonio chuckled and patted her shoulder, "I know Hermana, and your right it is cute. I am curious if you have other motives though?"
"AMELIA!" Suddenly Amelia was lifted by arms wrapped around her middle and spun around in a circle. She shrieked in surprise, then when she got set down she whipped around and saw her twin standing there smiling at her happily.
"AL!" She almost tackled him as she hugged him.
"You are a hard girl to track down!" He said hugging her back tightly. 'I've been looking for you for about an hour!"
"I've only been out an hour!" She said with a teasing punch. "You must of just missed me!"
Alfred rubbed his neck and smiled sheepishly. "Probably. Hey, so you stayed at the bar this time? Not the house?"
"… So how was the trip?"
"Great!" Alfred said with a smile. "Easiest one in a while! It was straight take the guys here, leave them sort of trip. No mess and no fuss!" He smiled, "I met this annoying British guy on the way back, drunk off his… um..back."
Amelia looked at her brother amused. "That doesn't even make sense."
"Oh well," Alfred flashed a cheesy grin and continued, "he was walking down the street yelling about how great British food was and how stupid the French were." He chuckled at the memory, "Antonio and I managed to get him back to his hotel okay." Alfred stopped and thought, "I felt kind of bad for the guy though, he seemed really upset about something."
Amelia frowned sadly, "Everyone had a story Al."
"Yeah… or a senorita dumped him." Antonio said with a shrug. "You never know."
Arthur got off the train and looked around the small town hesitantly. He had passed through it yesterday while changing trains, and to be honest he hadn't imagined coming back to it ever. He looked over at the streets and groaned. It was a small town, with almost no signs indicating what was where. He looked back at the train and felt like sighing again.
The compartment had offered little to go on. He did notice there were signs of a slight struggle, but obviously the girl was overpowered. Also, he hadn't seen anything to suggest she was hurt. Arthur grabbed a small bag he had grabbed from all his other luggage and set out down the street, forming a plan in his mind.
It was simple, he was going to find the Doctor, talk to the brother about what happened, then go after Mei. He backtracked in his mind noting how he would need to hire a guide to help him track the kidnappers. He was no good at following Animal trails in this terrain nor did he know this area. He looked around doubtfully. The last town had been much bigger, and hadn't had a single guide to offer. He heard there was one here, but he wasn't hopeful.
He stopped hearing a small yelp a little ways down and quickened his pace. He saw a small basket dropped on the ground next to an alley and carefully he approached it. Ribbons and rolls were strewn all over the street were it had fallen. He looked around quickly and didn't see anyone around who would of dropped it. He did notice a small trail of footprints going down. Cautiously he moved forward.
"Hey now!" A gruff voice said. "now, none of OW!" He heard a smack and a slight groan. A girl raced around the corner and ran right into him, knocking them over.
"Sorry!" The girl sat up and got off of Arthur quickly. "I-"
"Hey girl!" a slurred voice rang out, "Get back here! You owe me for ruining my fun." Down the alley a man stood swaying slightly. He looked dirty, careless and obviously drunk. The girl, who Arthur now saw had short blonde hair, almost growled at the man.
"Get a life." She stood up and stared the man down, "I could easily knock you out and into oblivion, or did you forget my 'ruining your fun' already?" The man bristled and snarled.
"You're going to pay for that bitch. I got you once!" Arthur finally came to his senses and stood up, stepping infront of the woman. "Whose this? You got a boe bitch?"
"Where I come from," Arthur said slowly, "we do not talk to a lady in such a way. Now, I suggest you leave her alone and go on your way sir." The man sneered and walked forward arrogantly.
"And you going to make me Brit?" He pointed accusingly at the blonde, "That bitch cost me a night of fun! She assaulted me and then sent the Sherrif on me! Dang Albino!" He spat on the ground.
The girl behind him laughed, "Yeah right! You tried to take my friend, pulled her off stage, and then threatened to hurt her when the sherrif, or rather Marshal, and his brother stepped in!" From the corner of his eye he saw the girl cross her arms defiantly and glower at the man, "You're so drunk you don't know left from North!"
The man yelled and charged forward, and almost automatically Arthur threw out his arm catching the drunk in the windpipe, making him fall to the ground. He then turned around and looked at the girl, "Are you mad? Were you trying to aggravate him?"
"I can handle myself." She said with a glare, catching Arthur off guard.
"How did he get you in the first place?" He saw the man reaching for his leg, and he kicked him in the shoulder. "Stay down Wanker!" Arthur then stopped and turned back to the girl, "Sorry for the language."
"No offense. I've heard worse." She then moved forward and stepped on the man's hand, causing him to cry in pain. "Now, why would you try and stab this man? Just because he has class?"The man cursed long and hard and she shook her head. "I am sure Gilbert will be all too happy to throw you back in jail."
Arthur stared at the girl in front of him as she looked back at him, "honestly, I hang around cowboys and sing. I can handle myself just fine, but thank you for the help." She said moving down the alley while the man held his hand rocking, "not many people are that considerate."
"You're… um welcome…" She gathered up her things, sighing as she beheld the rolls, with dirt stuck to it. "You're an odd creature miss?"
'Amelia!" A man with blonde hair came racing toward them, "He swung and Arthur froze for a moment, until his fist flew past him and hit the man who was crawling down the alley after them. He then whipped around and beheld the stunned Arthur and amused Amelia. "Are you okay? I told you to be careful! Gilbert told me this idiot got let out!"
"Alfred I'm fine." She said with a smile. "This man here helped me out." She said indicating Arthur.
Alfred turned and surveyed the Englishman carefully before holding out his hand to the man. "Thank you then…"
'um… Kirkland. Inspector Arthur Kirkland." He nodded.
"Well Thank you for helping my sister Inspector." He said as Arthur finally shook his hand.
"Dam!" They all turned back to the man and saw Amelia with her boot on the man's back looking at him venomously. "Can you two just take me back to jail already? It's nuts in this town!"
Alfred snorted then turned back to the man, "Anything we can help you with?"
"Uh," he stared as the girl moved the guy to a sitting position and began counting down. "I need to… um, find the Doctor's office… and um,"
"Say no more!"
"One." Amelia looked around then frowned. "Weird, usually whenever I do that-"
"Amelia?" A tall man with blonde hair came into the Alley. "What are you all doing back here?"
She smiled, "Ludwig, can you take this man to your bother? He attacked me and inspector Arthur was kind enough to help."
The man turned and looked at the Inspector surprised, "oh, thank you." He then turned back to the man, "I suppose I can take him to Gilbert." He sighed and moved forward.
Alfred grabbed Arthur and began to pull him down the street. "Thanks Ludwig."
Amelia caught up with them and looked at her brother. "Where are we headed?"
"Inspector here needs to go to the Doctor's." Alfred said looking at the bemused Arthur. "Have we met before?"
"I can't say I remember meeting you. May I ask what the bloody heck just happened?"
"Gilbert, our town Marshal and Sherrif, he usually tends to know what is going on in this town, and he was actually having people watch my sister cause, well, she stopped that guy from attacking a singer at the bar.'
Amelia nodded, "I sing and play music there. You should come by the show tonight if your free."
"O-Okay…" Arthur shock his head at the strange siblings.
"Are you sure we haven't met?"