Disclaimer: Me with ownership of FMA. . . ? That's a scary thought. XD

Author's Note: Wow, I can't believe I actually finished this one… I started it nearly a year ago, when we were talking about the theory of "predestination" in History class. "Predestination" is a belief of Calvinists: it's the idea that neither good deeds nor faith get you to Heaven—God decides the moment you're born whether or not you're going to Heaven or Hell.

Once I heard it, the wheels in my brain started to turn. XD

Warnings: ELRICEST! Heavily religious themes. (I'm a whore for religious themes, as I'm sure you've noticed. X3) Romeo-and-Juliet-ish. Angst. Torture. Good vs. Evil theories. Strange writing style coupled with weird grammar. If that doesn't do it for ya, then I suggest clicking the nice 'back' button. :) Otherwise, enjoy!

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"But of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

—Genesis, 2. 17

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XXX

When I tell people that I can remember that day, nobody believes me. Why should they? It should be impossible—no one should be able to remember the moment that they're born.

But I do. I remember it as if it were a dream; vaguely, more feeling than vision. Still, the memories are there, engraved deeply upon my consciousness. And I can hear them, the words of the Witch Doctor, as if she were still murmuring that spiteful declaration…

Perhaps it's a shared trait among us, us spawn of Satan: the abilities to recall such distant times. We are evil fiends, or so they say, infused with all that is Unholy. That would include magic, or so I assume. It would explain why the ground will change for me, if I wish hard enough.

Though that happens for no one else I know, devious or divine.

I think… I think that I must have done something wrong. I must have committed a horrible crime that I knew nothing about, back when I was Beyond the Door. Why else would this be happening to me? Why else would I be cursed like this? Why else would the Witch Doctor be forced to lean over my aching, exhausted mother and whisper:

To Hell. To Hell with the Devil!

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Predestination

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We are trained to live by different rules on Earth than we are in the afterlife. God's orders are simple, straight-forward; we are taught them in church—His Ten Commandments. But at home, in the cynicism of real-life, I'd only one rule.

Never open the Door.

Never; no matter what the circumstance. It could have been storming or flooding or raining fire— if I so much as considered nearing that Forbidden Room, Mama would have taken the time to rip off my head. That was the first thing I remember her saying to me: If I ever see you so much as touch the knob…!

And she'd shake as she said it, like a leaf in the wind. Truly, honestly, sincerely afraid. I'd nod and promise that I never would—that I wouldn't even think of the Door.

But that, of course, was a lie. (Father, forgive me.) Really, what child could resist such temptation? Like the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge; had she never said anything, I would never have considered entering that Room— never would have longed for that apple. There were, after all, so many other rooms in our house: big rooms, small rooms, hidden rooms, guest rooms, each concealed behind lockable sliding doors. But because that Room was FORBIDDEN…

Well, any child with an ounce of curiosity would have wanted to see what was buried behind the dark blockade.

And I was just like any child. Only, I didn't simply "want" to see what was beyond that Door— I needed to see. By the time I had turned six, it was my obsession. Everything about it, concerning it, related to the mystery consumed me: my only source of interest lie in the secrets Mother was keeping.

I needed to know.

I needed to.

But I would never find out, I realized that. For the Door was always locked and there were no windows connecting it to the outside. From what I could tell, it was a square of space comparable to a box—a large wooden box sealed within our small palace. An arc… but what sort of covenant was concealed inside?

I was fanatical. And I knew it. I knew it from the way my body would linger beside the Door on the way to chapel. I knew it from the way I'd glance down the shadowed hall, swearing I'd heard a noise from within. I knew it from the way I'd awaken in the middle of the night—startled from dreams full of bright, golden eyes, glittering down at me like a lustful snake's: cold and sharp and ready to kill. But at the same time, full of tears…

I soon lost the strength for anything else. I was nine—and I was gone. No longer could the mundane monotony of everyday life pacify me; all that I was, all that I craved, all that could keep me going was beyond the Door. I grew ill with curiosity, mania drawing my flesh tight to my bones. So tight… a skeleton. I would lay, dead but alive, in my bed for hours on end, unable to move or eat or speak. I was broken, I was incomplete. I couldn't breathe… and nothing helped. Communion would be brought to me; Mama had the priest pray beside my bed.

But such things did me no good.

How could the Most Holy be stricken down so terribly? our neighbors whispered; hissed outside my room, on the streets, through the window. It's as if the Devil himself has cursed Him!

Mama always paled at those words: she'd turn stark-white, choke on a sob, and excuse herself. There would be noises—noises that I couldn't recognize in my hazy state.

But in my dreams, those golden eyes would cry rivers of blood.

XXX

I always knew when She'd come for me. The sounds would warn me—the creaking of the wooden floorboards that lay just outside my world, the dry hacking and watery snivels of Her tears as they poured down Her kind face; the rubbery pull of the whip that She would wring between Her pastel fingers.

The Door would slide open, and there She'd stand. Quivering, frightened, and sorrowful.

The darkness would consume us again with a snap.

Why do you do this to him? She'd ask, voice thick with emotion as She took a step foreword, pushing a hand through the prison wall between us. The silhouette of the crisscrossing wooden beams made square-shaped shadows on Her thin features. Why do you torment Him, you demon? He's my son!

I'd look at Her for a long moment, through matted locks of gold. So am I.

She'd stiffen.

The barrier separating us would disappear.

Again, I would bleed until morning.

XXX

Something made me.

I didn't know what—my friends would have called it Angels, the priests might have said it was God, but I decided to label it Fate. Not that it mattered… it could have been Satan himself and I wouldn't have cared. Even now, I don't care. I don't know—nothing else except that something made me stand.

Something made me.

It made me stand and, for the first time in months, walk all by myself—leave my futon in the moonlight and peek into the hall.

I saw Mama. But shockingly, she did not see me. She appeared entirely focused on her hands, which looked wet. They glistened in the nonexistent light... like jewels. At the time, I didn't know what kind of liquid it could be—it was too difficult to see anything through the gloom clinging to corners of the passageway. Regardless, I didn't bother lingering on the oddity of her fingers; my mind was swirling with other things.

Things like the Door.

She stood before it, forehead pressed to the cool wood; shuddering as she gazed despairingly at her palms. Then, making the sign of the cross, she gathered herself together and scurried into the blackness.

…without locking the Door.

And something made me.

I didn't know what that something was at the time—Angels, God, Fate, my own curiosity… all of the above. But as soon as I saw the opportunity, I jumped on it.

Something made me.

Now, I think, maybe it was Him.

XXX

There were no warnings. No warnings, no signs, no introductions. There was nothing at all to serve as an indication: there was wood one moment, the next, there He stood. Panting. Pale. Clean and warm and oh-so-sickly, but alive; with eyes of silver and hair the color of fine sand.

Nothing was spoken or asked or exchanged. But it was a moment that I will never forget.

I was 13.

And He was beautiful.

XXX

I will never know why the sight didn't strike me as strange—I will never know why I wasn't terrified, staring down at the stranger who had been trapped inside my home.

Maybe because He wasn't really a stranger.

I knew those golden eyes.

XXX

He didn't say anything, so neither did I. All we did was stare at one another through the gate which separated us—I, hunched in a corner; He, leaning weakly against the doorframe. But nothing needed to be said, for all was understood. Enough had been kept from us that we both had a firm grasp on the situation.

I gazed at Him through my bangs, dirty and tousled as they were, playing with the grime between my fingers. The grime called to me, begging to be Changed. I felt the Power crackle in my veins.

With a flash of indigo sparks, I altered the filth into a tiny model of a baby chick. There was a muffled gasp.

I pushed it towards Him.

He blinked in surprise at the display, taken aback by the light and soft sparking. Once He'd recovered from the initial shock, He took a whole minute to examine the product, astonished. I thought He might scream, perhaps slap me like She does. But then—with eyes that rippled with the mysteries of a world in which I was, and am, feared—He gazed upon me, sweetly. And He smiled. And He whispered:

Brother.

I think I may have smiled back.

XXX

No other words were traded for two weeks. Sometimes, I didn't even enter the Room. I'd simply sit outside it until dawn, feeling His aura radiate through the Door.

I think He knew that I was there.

I think it may have startled Him.

But most of all, I think He liked it. Because the next time I entered, the first night of spring, He looked up at me with an expression which plainly read: 'what took you so long?'

I couldn't help but grin. And whenever I did, He would, too.

It would give me goosebumps.

Mama soon noticed. Not that I had disobeyed her and gone through the Door, but that I was up again. That I was back on my feet—that I was better than ever. She asked what had changed; what 'healing power had surged through my body.' I told her that God had been calling me, and I had finally found the strength to answer.

She bought it.

But what frightened me more than my lie (Father, forgive me), was that I didn't care that I had fooled her. I was proud of myself.

I visited Him again.

And I enjoyed every minute of it.

XXX

Soon it was His birthday. She threw him a party—the whole town came. I know nothing of parties except that they're loud. So very, very loud… I tried to block the noises, but all the same: they'd leak through my fingers and into my ears. I hated the loudness; the noises. And so I was not jealous that I wasn't there… though perhaps I'd just been trained to be that way.

I had thought that He wouldn't show up that night; I had thought that He might be tired or busy. I knew that She had been attempting to set Him up with the priest's daughter, Winry. Now that He was 16, they could begin to court.

I did not like the Winry girl. At the time, I had hoped fervently that I would never have to meet her.

My fingers clenched and crackled…

But the sizzled were drowned out by the sound of wood sliding on wood.

Straightening in surprise, I had looked up from the floor—and found Him standing there, a piece of cake in His hands. As always, He beamed at me. And I instinctively beamed back. Sorry I'm late. Mama wouldn't go to bed until she was sure I was asleep.

I said nothing.

He handed me the cake. I hope you don't mind chocolate.

I tried it. I didn't.

And then, with a little grin and a flick of my fingers, I touched the ground. I knew He was waiting for it; the excitement in His eyes always gave Him away. When the glowing stopped, I handed Him the result: a small stone kitty-cat. It was licking its whiskers as if finishing up chocolate cake. I made the same movement to show Him.

His delighted smile was too large to be put into words. And I found that I couldn't watch it grow without blushing.

I looked away… but my blood continued to boil.

XXX

The cat figurine was carefully placed on my nightstand; a lone beam of happiness in my otherwise dull room. A personal possession… I had very few in my life of modesty. And unlike His other creations, this one did not crumble to ash— so I treasured it, hoarded it, kissed it goodnight in the sheltering glow of the moon.

Mama used to say that moonlight did horrible things: bewitch you, entrance you—mimicking the rays of the Sun. It was called the Devil of the Night, trying to persuade foolish humans into taking a deceptively dangerous path illuminated by fairy-lights. That path…

It was the path called Temptation—a destination littered with the bodies of the damned; sinners burnt alive by their own heat and lust and carnal cravings. It was the Path of the Devil; the Path to Hell. Despite its beauty, despite its pretty moon-lit valleys, it was not a road that I could take, not even if I were to wish it.

I told myself that I must resist; I must not go—I must not even consider it. For if I did, to whom would my people turn? I am their Sun… I could not allow the flames of Hellfire to touch me.

God in Heaven, I prayed, help me resist this Temptation. I know that I must not travel down His path. I know that…

But when I do, Dear Lord, keep me from pursuing the Things that I want: from the Fruit that I know I mustn't eat, but will forever crave.

XXX

Why do You come here every night?

He gave a jolt; I could hear it through the Door. And I smiled in spite of myself, amused that He had thought that He was being sneaky. He wasn't, He never was—I knew that He'd been sitting there for over an hour; I knew everything that happened outside my world. It shouldn't have come as such a surprise to Him. But it did.

Or maybe He was simply shocked because I'd never spoken to Him before.

Either way, there was a pause.

Then the Door slid open a crack, a silver eye flashing through the shadows.

Because I want to see You.

I laughed, pushing a flaxen strand behind my ear. You don't come in very often, I murmured hoarsely; quietly. I remember thinking, upon hearing the sound of my own voice, that I should try to use it more often, try to work the rust from it. Is it easier to see me through solid wood?

A splash of crimson stained His cheeks. The sight was so alluring, I couldn't help but grin: a feral grin, one full of white teeth and mischief. The look made the blush darken.

It was such an enticing expression.

It's just… He muttered, flustered. It's not that, it's just. . . If I come in, I think I won't be able to stop.

I arched an eyebrow. What do you mean?

The crack widened; I could see half of His face. It had elongated over the years, that face: smooth and beautiful, with wind-swept hair that curled softly around pale ears. As He had matured, He had inherited a divine sort of glow— strong but gentle, with coiled power controlled by empathy. His mercury-gray eyes were luminous… like the starlight I had heard so much about.

He was my Everything. Everything I knew and didn't know; every musing of salvation and damnation. His thoughts were my thoughts, and His memories were my memories. I could see them in my head, just as He could see mine.

We were the same. One split into two. A single doll torn at the seams, ripped in half.

And my body longed to reunite with His; smoldered at the sight of Him. Deep inside, I could feel the Seven Parts that made me begin to curl and froth with desire… Lust overpowering my senses.

But the strange thing was that—if I squinted—I could see the Flame within Him, too. The same Flame which condemned me was smoldering deep within Him, hidden behind a wall of purity.

If… He swallowed; the crack vanished. He had entered, closing the Door behind Him. I watched Him silently, unblinkingly, comfortable in the fact that He was doing the same. But that comfort was not shared. He—He who had been raised by the priests and scholars and monks; He who had been Chosen by the Universal Father—He was uncomfortable, unused to the delicious heat. I smirked, entertained by His squirming; by the way my eyes could set His face alight. If I come any closer, Brother, I won't be able to stop myself … from doing Bad Things to you.

My face swiftly tightened; I slipped deeper into the night. Bad things? Bad things meant whips. Bad things meant blood. Bad things meant screaming accusations of how Everything Is My Fault. Would He do that to me, too? What sort of bad things? I asked softly, my golden eyes cutting through the darkness like a cat's.

His fingers curled around the bars between us. He rested his head against them. And I could see that He was crying, shaking; frightened. But not in the same way that She always was. I inched closer. Bad Things, He whispered, quivering. Bad Things in the eyes of God. Things that make a person burn in the Fires… the Fires of Passion are just as bad as those of Hell.

I considered this, slinking closer and closer to Him, though careful to keep hidden in the shadows. Passion? I repeated. Is that the same as Lust?

He looked up abruptly, horrified. What do you know of Lust?

Many things, I replied truthfully. By that time I was directly before Him, crouching in front of His kneeling body. My hands twisted around His own as I leaned closer to the wall dividing us. I know of every Sin. I know of all that has been kept from you. Horrible things.

Who taught you?

No one taught me, I snorted. I Know. As you Know. That is why we were Chosen. That is why our lives and deaths have been predetermined.

He stared at me, mystified. How do you know all of this…?

I chuckled, lashes fluttering. His body tensed at the sight; it aroused Him. I pretended, for His sake, not to notice. But I did. The Devil is not as secretive as God.

A frown marred His gorgeous features. Does that… make you evil?

As evil as your current feelings.

His face fell; He turned away. It was almost as if He were deflating, or tumbling into nothingness. But… these feelings are evil, He whispered, voice full of pain. I am not allowed to… not for you, Brother, nor any man. Nor any woman. These feelings of Want, these cravings for the Forbidden. We will be damned.

I am already damned.

No one is beyond Salvation! He hissed vehemently, visibly stung by the words. As if in a desperate attempt to prove me wrong, He grasped my arm, afraid to let go. In the Bible it says—!

I sadly shook my head.

I am already damned, my Brother. You are the closest to Heaven that I shall ever see. My long, long hair fluttered in a non-existent wind; the cell around me sputtered and popped with Power. Hell is where I shall be, long after this body has rotted away, consumed by this Power. Not even you can alter my fate. But perhaps… together, we can alter something else.

Moving forward, I placed my head upon the bars separating us. He did the same; our foreheads brushing—skin meeting skin with an electric buzz of desire. I could feel His breath on my nose, smell His scent of pine trees and cinnamon… of the outside world who continues, even now, to curse my name. His gasps and whimpers echoed, morphing into mewls when I reached through the gaps to caress His face, neck, torso… I can Change things… you have seen me do it, I whispered into the air between us. Perhaps… I can Change this sin into something good.

Can good come from sin? He wished to know, breathless and tight with Need. Another section of my Seven Parts flamed into existence: Greed. How I wanted Him—around me, inside of me, one with me, all of me…

I shrugged; the barrier isolating our bodies melted away. Literally. And He was in my arms, pushing closer and closer. Our chests meshed, our hips ground, my legs looped around His waist. If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, I cannot see why the road to Heaven can't be constructed with sin.

Our lips met and we thought no more.

XXX

Temptation is a frightening thing. It curves your will, shapes your mind, addles your senses and beguiles your brain. Temptation is a curse… and it will snap like a snake. Temptation changes lives. Temptations ruins lives.

Temptation is a sin.

I should have realized; I should have remembered. I shouldn't have allowed myself to be so easily conned by the weakness of flesh—to be blinded by my Want and wish for Bad Things.

I should have protected Him. I shouldn't have been swallowed by yearning, by my need to touch Him. He was Forbidden to me for a reason…

Why did I not see it before?

The Door—it was never locked anymore. Why did that never strike me as odd? Why didn't it dawn on me? Nobody could be that absentminded; nobody could always forget to lock it.

It had been a trap. A trap to ensnare me… a trap to ensnare us both.

The sudden, stinging slap of my mother's palm sent my face careening to the left. I gaped, shocked, standing beside her on the doorstep to the house. It was Sunday morning. And I wondered: could she possibly know what I'd done mere hours before?

Yes.

And no.

Why didn't you kill Him! How many more opportunities do you need!

The demand rang through the air, reverberating like the chapel bells—but not nearly as sweet.

What…? I mouthed wordlessly, transfixed, hand lightly pressed to the throbbing welt on my face. Tears were cascading down Mama's flushed cheeks; her whole body trembling with suppressed disgust and frustration. What're you talking about?

The Devil! she screeched, crossing herself with a kiss of her crucifix. You entered the Lair of the Devil; descended into His Hell! Why didn't you slay Him, my son? Why!

I stared vacantly at her, nonplussed. How did she know? How long had she known? What was she talking about now? But why should I have killed Him? I asked, horror bleaching my voice into a meek whimper. What has He done wrong?

Another slap. I didn't bother lifting my head again.

All that He does is wrong! Mama shrieked, hazel pools glittering with fury. He is Evil incarnate, Sin personified! As we speak He is growing stronger—stronger from your failure! You are endangering the world, this world which is a constant battle of Good and Evil. As Good, you must destroy Him!

I glowered; I could feel my eyes narrowing. Destroy Him…? But what about compassion?

Slap.

Mercy?

Slap.

Forgiveness?

Slap.

Why do you do this! I roared, raising myself to my full height, towering over her. I snarled, face pink and aching. Why! He is your son, too! He has done nothing to deserve this! It is not His fault!

Mother scowled, quaking; I didn't realize I'd grabbed her wrist until she yanked it away. There were more tears…but she merely brushed them away. It might not be His fault, my mother spat, but it was how God planned it. We have no right to question His wisdom. It has all been predetermined… and You must fulfill Your destiny. You must banish Evil and send the Devil back to Hell!

I stared mutely, bizarrely calm. And she glared back at me, utterly stoic, wrapping her robes more tightly to her body. In the forgotten distance, the church chimes began to cry: One… two… three… four… five… six. My fingers tightened with each clang of the bell; I took a deep breath.

Without Evil, there is no Good… and without Good, no Evil.

I vanished down the hall.

XXX

He asked if I would like to be with Him forever.

And for a whole minute, I could only gape at Him, justifiably taken aback. What was He talking about? What was He doing here? It was Sunday morning; I could hear the townspeople gathering for church. What was He doing in my prison?

I crawled to the barrier—which I had only just repaired, lest She notice I'd destroyed it— reaching for His hand through the criss-crossed bars. He grasped it readily, weaving our fingers together. When he did so, my own sparkled and crackled with Power. For once, it hurt. I frowned, but otherwise ignored the pain. I don't know where this is coming from, I said slowly, voice as soft as the pop and hiss of dying embers. But you know that my wishes on the matter will change nothing. Even if I wanted to, I am condemned to Hell and you, to Heaven.

He shook his head forcefully, clutching my hand with both of His. The searing throb His touch brought forth intensified; I didn't understand why. There is no such place as Heaven for me if you are not there, He whispered, pressing kisses to the planes of my forearm. And I can't stand the thought of you in the Fire…

God has decided, I reminded gently, unlacing my fingers from His. Not, I realized with a start, because of the hurt in my hands, but because of the hurt in my heart. The decision is not ours to make.

But it can be.

I looked up suddenly, baffled.

It can be, He repeated with growing excitement, clasping the bars so tightly that I thought that they might splinter. There is another Place, an afterlife between Heaven and Hell. A Place where we could be together.

I gawked in astonishment; surely such a thing couldn't be true! But oh, how I wished it could be… Where? I asked quickly, resting my forehead against the dividing barrier. Where is this Place?

He smiled tenderly, adoration filling His eyes as He brushed my cheek through the cell wall. His touch was cool and soft, the very opposite of my own. It is called Purgatory, He whispered, as if afraid of being overheard. Limbo. An in-between for souls unworthy of Heaven, but unfit for Hell. We could spend eternity there, together.

My heart leapt into my throat. An escape from Hell? A Place for us? But how would we get there? I inquired, voice soft and trembling as my insides shook. Is it even possible to defy God's plan? Our lives—and deaths—after all, had been predetermined. Could we beat destiny?

I don't know, He admitted, sounding a little frightened. Jittery. He kept looking over His shoulder, though His attention was mine. But I'm willing to try. And so I'll ask again: would you like to be with me forever?

Yes, I replied insistently, instantly. Again, I reached through the gate, entwining our limbs. The barrier crumbled to ash; He kissed me. Kissed me fiercely, deeply, His tongue darting into my mouth… Yes, of course I would! But when should we—?

Now.

I blinked, pulling back. There were tears in His eyes: they glittered, iridescent, in the trickling candlelight. Now…?

Now, He repeated, holding me to His chest, encasing me in His arms. Now, before the others try to tear us apart.

They know? The words were simple, yet terrifying.

Mama knows, He murmured, sounding strained. Mama knows and will tell. She wants me to kill you… but I won't, I couldn't. And when I don't, I'm sure there will be others clamoring to do the job. Then, as punishment… He swallowed, holding me closer. I don't want to kill you.

Despite the gravity of the situation, I managed a wry smile. I should hope not. Very well… we shall try to reach Purgatory. Now. But how should we do that?

He hesitated, running His fingers through my hair. There is… only one way that I know of, He confessed, sounding small. Timid. Only one way to get there.

Which is…?

I felt His mouth against my ear, whispering inaudible words of love and terror. A plan. A promise. I shivered.

I smiled.

Then I shall see you soon, my Brother, I purred, closing my eyes. In response, I felt Him nod, repeating the words; taking and holding a final breath. My Power flared.

Together, His hand and mine touched the floor.

There was an earsplitting, rumbling howl; the house began to fall apart…

I love you.

The world came tumbling down.

XXX

It took Mama and the townsfolk a week to excavate what was left of our bodies: crushed bones, squashed organs, dried blood. They decided that the cave-in was the result of an earthquake—though whether the disaster had been a punishment from God or a curse from the Devil, they couldn't deduce. It had killed me, after all, but also another… another, who's golden eyes still shone like blazing fires; who's spilt insides were as thick and black as liquefied tar.

Those who knew of Him screamed, crossing themselves and spitting on His remains. But to Him, the insults were meaningless.

Soon after the unearthing, my mangled corpse was cremated with extravagant grace, my final sin apparently unknown. His was thrown into the ocean, left to disintegrate into nothingness. Sea foam frothed uncontrollably for weeks; winds thick with cinders encased the small city. Our final act of rebellion for, again, being separated—by something much larger and stronger than the Door.

But really, we didn't care anymore. Those bodies were of no further use… wasted masses of flesh and muscle, inanimate trash which had done nothing but trap us. Since then, our souls have broken free—free at last. Together at last. Forever. As was predestined.

One body.

One blood.

One soul.

Amen.

XXX

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"And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat."

—Genesis, 3. 13

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