Spoilers: Manga chapter 40
Warnings: Violence, graphic descriptions of said violence, overly artsy prose, and disturbing...ness. No, really; I've never written anything more disturbing in my life, except for maybe a Mary Sue or two, and I was young then, dammit! But I digress.


Of course they don't know they can't tell, never have, never will, because it's an art and he's an artist and when he passes so will this art be gone from the world. There's no equal on earth in heaven to his mind, his unrivaled eye for detail feature mannerism everything. See here how he strides straight-backed solemn serious grave harsh closed vulnerable sad everything – an amalgamation of impossibilities that makes up humanity the soul

And it's delightful, it delights him to see how able he is to capture humanity, to capture the soul, he inhuman and soulless and yet see how they salute! See the sympathy in their eyes to see her without rest with worry –

See how he evokes sympathy! It's an art.

And of course they don't know they can't tell that they shouldn't let her in, that isn't her before them, why would they know? He has a soul like this, he has a woman's soul, he has a woman's hands and heart and hair and sorrow. He is she, even though she is at home, asleep for all their sympathy for her sleeplessness, alone with sorrows to be increased a hundredfold

and even he can't tell, prone, studying a map with all intensity with all concentration and look, look, look at what it is, he was right, he was right, they were right! But the Flame Alchemist can't feel his glee only looks up with a nod and a greeting, and he wants to do it right then but Father says it must be done quietly it must be done subtly no brute force and besides, it'll be more satisfying this way, deliberation, a slow ride.

The tall one, the blonde one, the one for Lust is asleep now, his face piteous. Sorrow for his sins, perhaps? Or sorrow for his Sin, ha, repentance for his murder? Terrible thing to kill him in a state of sadness, really, to kill him in such a pure emotion that God will accept him, and perhaps it would be better to wake him to let him bathe his consciousness in humanity once again so that God won't take him, but no it would be out of character it wouldn't be subtle he must be deliberate. So he takes a bottle from his breast pocket, smiling over his woman's breast his woman's hand his woman's soul, but Flame looks up and sees him and questions –

What are you doing?

She had seen a nurse earlier, seen a nurse who asked if she was going to see Jean and if so could she administer this medicine?

and clever he even genius he can't tell nods lies back helpless before his woman's soul

And the tall one doesn't even wake as he administers the poison, the subtle deliberate poison directly into the tubes running into his blood. He doesn't even flinch as his death flows for him, reaches for him in clear feathered fingers.

And Flame doesn't even look up, doesn't look up as the tall one does as he promises and makes the last final measure of devotion for him, merely rubs at his eyes and asks her about maybe talking to someone about getting him caffeine, and she does as she should do sitting beside him and saying, I don't know if it's the best idea, sir, but I'll try, ever loyal ever deferential

And he can't be deliberate, damn it all, he can't be discreet, not with him lying with his home marked off, now with her murderer with his own murderer lying open defenseless vulnerable before him, one hand cupping his own cheek

so she leans down and kisses him, and he stiffens and says something into her mouth, but he's enjoying it, oh lord, because he tastes of ashes and smoke and sweat and coffee, because after a moment his trembling jaw loosens and his lips open up and everything is alive

But then he pulls back, his eyes guarded, Flame pulls away with a carefully crafted expression. He shakes his head and goes back to his map, and she leans back, something aching in her woman's soul that he can only marvel at, and he – she – she apologizes, turns away, and he tells her to forget it.

but then Flame asks, and he waits nearly long enough his voice is nearly neutral enough not to tip his hand, but he doesn't – he asks what it was that Havoc needed, what the medicine was, and he knows that he knows, there was something something that gave it away

And she somehow burns, then, burns to know that he had tasted something wrong in her woman's mouth – that this bastard, murderer, desecrator somehow felt something wrong in her woman's soul, so he turns back, fast, and Flame tries to push him away but he's fast, always has been, always will be, brushing off the feeble resistance and the feeble denial, enveloping him and forcing himself upon him

reaching down with her woman's hand, her frescoed tendons and curved nails, and knowing cruelly that he'll be able to press harder than any woman can, that even when he is nothing more than her he is something more than her

And he'll do it subtly, deliberately, discreetly, not squeezing, no, but resettling his hand with every change of the muscle, until Flame has strangled himself. He'll be discreet, even with Flame moaning, breathing hard, gripping his hands and writhing beneath him. He'll force his hands once again to relax, despite the burning that's possessing him even now, driving him to greater passion, greater fury

He must be subtle. He must be discreet.

But there's blood beneath his woman's nails, blood they drew in their woman's sharpness – there's red-purple beneath his fingers when he resettles them, and Flame's face is turning black as he gasps and struggles and moans, tearing at his hands with strong lean fingers, rending with those masculine hands, tearing away at her slender skin

And now it's done; now they'll know; now there's no point in discretion in subtlety so he might as well give himself full reign, and he leans on top of him leans over him, squeezing, forcing the breath from him, coaxing the life from him, from his sweat-drenched hair, from his hooded eyes, so bright, so dark, so strong and steady that it never can help but stir something in his woman's soul

And Flame's back arches, he tries to gasp as his fingers scrabble for some purchase in the bed beneath him. He tries to moan, and she leans down to cover his lips with her own, to take his last exhalation into her even as he grips at her hair, arching up into her, writhing beneath her, gouging at her face –

And then, finally, he relaxes, slumps back down, and she pulls away licks her lips, sealing in the taste of ash and old coffee and death and regards his face, open and slack in the afterglow, eyes always dark now dull, tired, lidded, face covered in sweat, dark and bloated in the wake of his passion.

She holds his strong wrist in her woman's hand, searches for some life in him, some small flutter and finds none. So he smiles.

And even then the tall one the one for Lust is just starting to go into spasms, shaking silent, and she goes over, smoothes back his forehead with his woman's hand. She holds him in his nightmares, keeps him silent, and whispers to him, tells him that he shouldn't worry, shouldn't worry, because there will be paradise for him, soon –

And he sighs, relaxes beneath her woman's touch, slips into darkness into sleep with something piteous about his face, and her only regret is that like this God will accept him with open arms, but some things are inescapable.

So she looks at them both, lying open, lying calm, and tugs at the sleeves of her jacket and pushes at her bound hair and smiles at them both and opens the door. And even on his way out, still they salute, respectfully, though one smirks broadly at her disarray and asks if everything went well, and she simply looks at him severely and turns away on her heel.

She's barely rounded a corner before there's a great cry, before there's a great keening and a plea for doctors, doctors, now, someone's killed him, oh lord!

But between one step and the next, he pulls at himself and his woman's soul becomes a man's, and he's the exact copy of a janitor he'd seen coming in. And no one even stops him, questions him, no one even doubts him: they can't tell, never have never will, because it's an art and he's an artist and when he passes so will this art be gone from this world.