Under the Skin
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Word Count: 1196
Kimbley had long gotten used to the smell of the prison, as well as the pitiful excuse for a pillow underneath layers of greasy hair. The stocks were a little harder than that---heavy to the point that his wrists were raw and his forearms were chafed from heated attempts to pull back the wood far enough to allow his palms to meet.
It was a good kind of pain. It reminded him that he was alive, that he still had the power to bleed and laugh and feel nothing but contempt. After all, he'd learned long ago that hate was a far hardier and more trustworthy sentiment than love could ever be.
Hate had the power to keep him alive far after love had failed.
Measured steps came from the hall and he opened an eye to glance at the small, barred window that looked into the corridor. He'd become good at counting paces, people, patience. There was a visitor, he could tell, and he was both surprised and irritated when the sound stopped in front of his door and he heard the locks clicking and the bolts being turned.
Kimbley sat up slowly, bare feet sliding against the hard stone floor. He wondered vaguely if it was his turn for the experimentation that they were so bad at hiding, since he was pretty damn sure they weren't about to send him a defense attorney, as useless an act as that would be at this point. In any case, he didn't give much of a shit about the 'humanity' that everyone else seemed so desperate to cling to, and he'd determined long ago that if they gave him any special attributes, he'd be smart enough to use them to get out of this place rather than mull around and cry tears of cowardice.
The man that came in, however, was something unexpected entirely.
Kimbley's mouth twisted downwards, then up into a bitter smirk.
"The fuck you doing here?" His eyes followed the visitor as the door closed behind him. "I thought you were too respectable now for this sort of shit."
The visitor's eyes wandered over Kimbley, as if appraising him. Kimbley's lip curled.
"They think you can get information out of me, Colonel?"
"They do," the visitor said. His tone would have been neutral, unreadable, had Kimbley not known it so well. "I don't."
"Good." Kimbley smirked, closing his eyes as he leaned back against the grimy wall. "We can keep this short."
Mustang didn't answer. Kimbley counted the seconds it took for the other man to begin heading back towards the door.
"I scare the shit out of you," Kimbley finally said.
Mustang stopped, and Kimbley found perverse pleasure in the fact that the other man's hand was poised to knock for the guards, but he hadn't yet gone through with it.
"Don't you always?" The colonel responded, unimpressed. He didn't turn around, though Kimbley knew all too well the conversation was far from over.
"It's a different kind of fear." Kimbley's eyes stayed fixed on Mustang's back, his head, his ass. He'd put on some muscle while Kimbley had lost it. "Before, you were afraid of how alike we were, and now it's how different we are that's got you running."
"Heh." A short chuckle, less out of humor than truth. "I'm glad you got what you deserved. That's all."
"And you regret that you didn't?"
There, the pause, the tension that Kimbley craved. He knew Mustang was slowly coming to a boil, burning like the alchemy he used so fondly. Kimbley counted his old raiding partner as an exception among humans: He was more fun to play with than he was to kill. He knew how to push him, how to prod him. He knew how to get under his skin like he'd done those Ishbal nights long ago.
"I'm nothing like you." Mustang said, tone cold and body still.
"You say that to me," Kimbley smirked, "but I'm sure that friend of yours hears a different tune."
"I have better things to talk about than you." The rise was all the more obvious now, written on Mustang's face as he turned around and faced the prisoner. It had been so long, Kimbley thought, since he'd been able to faze someone, work them up, twist their gut so hard that they wanted to twist him back.
The fact that it was the Flame Alchemist made the game all the more satisfying.
"Then why are you still here?" Kimbley replied, with the kind of airy nonchalance that he knew drove his old partner crazy.
"Because I need information." Mustang's boots clacked against the hard floor as he stormed over. Kimbley savored it when the colonel grabbed his ragged collar, the action so much more full of fury, full of passion, than any of the harshly halfhearted measures the guards ever took.
Mustang stared into Kimbley. Kimbley stared back.
"I need to know if you have anything to do with a serial killer currently on the loose."
Kimbley smirked wryly, holding up the stocks.
"I didn't do it."
"I didn't say you did." Although Mustang's words had gone cold, his hands had grown hot, shoving Kimbley's shoulders back against the wall. Kimbley grinned a wide grin. He hadn't been this hard in a very long time.
"I need to know if you ever came across a particular Ishbalan." Kimbley relished the warm breaths on his face, the fingers digging into his skin. "A man with an x-shaped scar on his forehead."
Kimbley knew. He'd known from the moment he'd overheard the guards talking about the strange murders, known the moment his old fucktoy had stepped inside his cell.
"I don't know." He said slowly, with a shrug that made Mustang's fingers clench harder. "I killed a whole lot of them."
"Think harder." The colonel grated, too much of a stuck-up bastard to completely lose his cool. "Think of all the terrified faces, the ones you put to memory so you could live it over and over again."
"What?" Kimbley tilted his head, eyes narrowing as he smiled. "Like you do?"
Mustang knew better than to punch Kimbley for that, instead opting to drop him like a dead weight onto the bed. Kimbley coughed a little at the force of the impact, body much weaker than it had been before his imprisonment. He grit his teeth when he heard the colonel's footsteps go for the door, and he turned his head, suddenly overcome by the familiar feeling of desperation, resentment, of being caged.
"I'll get out of his shithole," he rasped, breathing hard. "I'll get out once the next big war comes along, and then we won't be any different. You'll be able to stop pretending you aren't a murderer. You'll go back to smelling like burnt fat and sex."
Mustang stopped. He slowly turned, eyes hard.
"I won't smell like sex."
The guard unlocked the door. Mustang stepped out and Kimbley watched the blue of the colonel's uniform turn from dark to bright as he made his way into the light of the hallway.
He'd never envied someone more in his life.