Disclaimer: The song 'Paths of Desire' is copyright the October Project.

Paths of Desire

---I have traveled the paths of desire//Gathering flowers and carrying fire---

They're all the same, she realizes one day, picking the blood off her fingertips with a practiced grace. A prayer is a curse, a want is a need, a scream is a song, and every virtue somehow leads to sin, in the end. Her own, above all else – the desire for flesh and feeling and the fire of kisses burning against her mouth until she's swallowed all of their tender emotions and held it in her dangerous, beautiful fingers; they are more sacrifices than offerings, and like the silent gods of Ishbaal, she can never be appeased. Lust watches the sun settle and the sky fade, every single day. The atmosphere is always a little more scarlet than the last time when she looks at it.

She's hungry, again. She runs her fingers through her hair, taking care to avoid her scalp, teasing the locks out one by one. There is polish on her nails. It reeks of venom; the shade is too dark to call red, just a touch above brown. She studies her reflection on a sheet of dirty windowpane. She has no jewelry, but there is really no need for diamonds or pearls, not with the mark sitting like a brooch on her neck; she traces it, tenderly, lovingly, until a trickle of blood runs down and ends up staining her cuticles, again – she laughs, because being a masochist is different from a sadist, and that isn't what she is.

"How do I look?" She asks Gluttony, not really expecting an answer.

"You're leaving again?" He poses another question, in turn, and she is probably more irritated than she should be – sometimes he is more of pet than ally, and she hates looking after things other than herself. The night bears down on them, and impressionable young men will be leaving their jobs soon to visit the bars and dance with the devils – she will play that part for them, if they're agreeable enough. She hasn't got the patience for questions.

"Not for long," She says. "You can go and have dinner too, when I'm finished."

---I am the fly who dreams of the spider//The path to the web becomes deeper and wider---

It doesn't escape anyone.

She watches, her smile stretching every time she wins – which is every time.

The flame alchemist, with his self-satisfied grin and all the importance of the military shining like a badge on his chest, is afflicted with it. He is torn between his redemption, or his success. He knows how many innocent lives he's burned out, and how he should pick up a gun and shoot himself for it; but he doesn't, because he's clinging on to the futile hope that just maybe the world will change for the better if he manages to get on top of it. There's more to him than the pomp and prestige and the guilt that flickers on and off like a guttering candle. He has a crude appetite for justice that Lust can nearly taste - but it would taste horrendous, and she's not fool enough to walk right into the military only to steal a kiss from his falsely calm face.

Then there's the spy, with his beautiful wife and his darling baby girl, the family he dotes on with unrelenting sweetness. Oh, she loves him, even if he meddles too often. He's so cute, so naive, so unable to see that family and duty cannot coexist perfectly in this damned world – sooner or later one obligation will strangle him dead. In the meantime he holds on to both of them, hanging in the balance. They'll have to teach him a thing or two about choices, someday, but Lust doesn't want the job, because she knows by then it will be too late.

Even the man with the scar on his face, however often he disrupts their plans, is amusing to watch. It's one thing to claim holiness, and the blessing of a god that has long forsaken his people; but to say that while blowing up another human, without any qualms, is all too hilarious. Divine judgment does not pass down its powers to mere mortals. That arm he possesses is a fallacy, however much it hurt Gluttony when they made contact. It's justice, he says, but she knows what it really is: just another form of hunger than can only be satiated by their blood on his hands.

Revenge is only a myth. Death comes for no reason that people can understand, but once it passes, it will not turn back.

The boy is perhaps the most interesting of all, metal arm and metal leg betraying his all-too human heart. He is fighting for too many things. To remove his guilt, to get back what he lost. To save his brother, the only thing he really cares for. He's running away, he's giving up, he's playing puppet to a million different strings, and he's just a little boy with a smile that can't fit his face. It's pitiful, but then again, he's an alchemist, and the only one that can save them, apparently.

He's also probably the only one that can destroy them – but that's not going to happen.

They lose their precious ideals day by day, finding less and less truth in the things they once loved. All their justice, love, pride and concern – all their charity and meekness, it melts away in the face of fear. And slowly, secretly, it turns to hatred, and Lust feasts on the terror and anger that turns them to sin, again and again. Nobility cannot stand the fires of hell, however much it tries. This world needs realists, not heroes.

These wants, these desires, will crawl up from their sinister little hearts to scratch them in the face, someday. They are hungry and there are too many things to consume and be consumed by; they are losing.

---I dream of the silk that is tangled inside you//And know that I want to be somewhere beside you//I'm drawn to you//I'm caught in you---

Her lips are against his neck, and he's moaning, this fragile young thing in a suit and tie who claims to be a doctor and a soldier all at once. I can do alchemy, too, miss. He's only a liar, but that makes things fair. Two can play at that game. He doesn't need to know her motives – not when she bought him a drink, not when her tight emerald skirt was showing off a length of her thigh, not when she had a tattoo on her graceful throat that spoke of her worldly ways and infinite allure. She sighs in his grasp and he thinks he has her, but it's the other way around, silly boy. He doesn't know who's the cat or the mouse, but she does. It takes more than seduction to reel in a man, but nails might help.

"I want you," She says, and then she strikes, pounces on her prey while he's unawares, claws sharp and cutting like the feline she never was, "to die."

---I am crossing the bridges of sorrow//Empty with yearning and full of tomorrow---

He wanted power, and riches, and women, but he forgot to watch his own back. Greed was divided, and now he is dead. Envy occupies another person's face, another person's tongue and body, but he will never have their minds, or their hearts; those remain his, spitting pain and spewing madness. Gluttony, whom she works with most often, is like a child with a candy store at his disposal and still too much of a sweet tooth to satisfy. He's clever, in his own way, but that is outshined by his incredibly vast stomach. Sometimes it makes her sick, sometimes it makes her laugh. Sloth does her work to the quiet hum of an office, slack behind her pretty face, as she receives orders and makes phone calls; she dreams of lying down, eternal rest.

They all do. That is their greed and their hunger and their lust, that is their sin – hers, as well, more than flesh and fingers (skin, hair, eyes, nails, and their breath waning against her ear as she pushes her claws through them). They want to sleep. The longer they live, laughing in this world, playing out their roles to the sound of people dying, the more they wake up to tomorrow with the world revolving uselessly about them, the more the need grows.

Needs are the same thing as wants. They're difficult to satiate.

That night she dines underneath a crimson sky (the moon now, too, not just the sun! how amusing), wiping the blood that smears against her purple lips. She leaves to the sound of Gluttony snacking, and feels all the more hungry, knowing that she won't dream tonight, either. This is payment, she knows, for the faults of others. For their stupidity and for how they cling, foolishly, weakly, to those who have walked ahead of them on the way to hell.

But what goes around comes around. It doesn't matter to her anymore. Not the way it does to Envy. Their lives will mean death soon enough, and that's more relief than anything.

She's tired, and still thirsty, but she can wait.

The paths of desire will not die out; the walkways will keep on burning.

---The night is falling, the path is receding//I don't need to see it to know where it's leading---

His eyes are golden and his steps are unsure, but there's a metal hand to guide him on the way.

"Brother," Al says, "Do you think we can make it? Do you think we'll able to do it?"

"I do," Ed answers, for your sake, we have to, for your sake, I will.

"Then I do, too." It's not blind faith, it's love.

She watches it, and she grinds her teeth, because the only thing they want, and the only thing they need, is each other.

-In your eyes//All of the promises//All the lies//Will you keep all of the promises//In your eyes?-


A/N: This was a really risky piece for me...D: I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Thanks for reading. Any and all comments would be greatly appreciated. :D