All right. A one-shot! I never said I wouldn't post one-shots. xD Anyway, this is just like... a prologue, if you will, about a fic I'm writing that I will probably post to aff dot net. I might do that with Revelations as well, rewrite it, you know.
Anyway, this is one of those typical ScarRoy ones. The idea popped in my head ages ago, and I was writing it, and I lost motivation and then I decided to finish it and clear another document from my document manager, so, here we go. Only eight more updates to finish before I start another round.
And school starts Monday. Dx Online classes, of course, but yes. xD
Yet another rant, and this one probably rants a lot too. I was in a bad mood. Excuse it. xD
The pain of living could be a price that many wouldn't be able to bear. People lived, people died, and the circle continued. The test of whatever you believed in, whether it be yourself, or simply a god that presided over you, all depended on the strength of, not your character, or your physical prowess, but that little voice that told you to keep going. Your strength all depended on that little thing, that little reassurance that your efforts were not in vain.
He'd lost faith in that voice, in humanity, in himself long ago, when the first screams ripped through his head, the first death that shredded his consciousness. That death continued to plague him, every sleeping and waking moment he had, never did he forget the trials he'd placed himself through. It was his doing, he had chosen to take that life, he would never stoop so low as to blame another, but the fact remained that he still had no relief, even after seven years.
It was a young man, he recalled. His skin was a handsome bronze, eyes as red as blood, hair a comfortable auburn. It was on a raid, his squadron was to take over the district, and they did so with ease. At first, his job as Major was to direct them and make sure that the extermination was complete. He wasn't sure what it was that had led him inside. He could have easily demolished the building without a second thought. Perhaps it was to find the men that had disppeared inside, or his own curiosity. That was when he saw him.
The wind howled outside, but none of that mattered to him. The boy sat there, trembling, and clung to his rifle. It was his unfortunate luck that he had been faced with none other than the recently instated Flame Alchemist to be his undoing.
His finger ran over the rim of the glass filled with a handsome rustic color, pleasing to his pallet and far too mature for a kid to think much on. The liquid within would probably be too harsh, taste 'bad', but to him, it was heaven in a glass. At times like these, where he had pushed himself so far into his slump, he figured it would be the closest to heaven he would ever be. Sins of such magnitude could never be forgiven, though the whole 'heaven' and 'religion' thing was something he threw aside anyway. What kind of God allowed these things to happen?
His gaze fell on the liquid suddenly being swirled in his hand. Those eyes so filled with fear, yet a smidgen of defiance as they watched him. It was just the two of them, that rifle in the young man's hand, and he, with his hand out. The kid seemed to know what it meant, that he was one of these monsters that made incredible things happen that perverted the nature that had been given by 'Ishbala'.
The boy's hands shook. Yes, his age seemed to get younger and younger the more he thought about it through the years as well, something that time could not preserve was his memory that day. The rifle lifted after another moment's hesitation, and his fingers reacted before he could help it. The ignition cloth that was made to help him be efficient had just removed one more life in the war, a life that would forever scar him and those who had watched.
His screams that seemed to echo on forever, but in reality lasted about half a moment, crimson flames, licking, scorching the body, blood and other fluids bubbling within as his body heated past the boiling point. Death... was sweet...
This was about one of the few times that he allowed himself weakness, these indulgences that allowed him to maintain the demeanor of the incredible Flame Alchemist during work hours. Even he needed time to allow himself to let loose, be free from his strong side.
The dim light of the pub was relaxing, eyes half-lidded and glazed, focused on the wooden counter before him as his fingers rolled over the outside of the glass in a simplistic but calming pattern. Calm was good. "You know, I would normally find a nice girl, take 'er home... spend the rest of the night focused on me..."
The kind old man scrubbing Roy's previous shots and other various mugs that he had used, since the man couldn't decide on one drink as he normally did, merely nodded. "Why didn't you, then?" He had to humor the drunks. When the little voices in their head usually decided not to respond, their anger came out on the closest thing, and with Roy, he, the kind, old, gentle barkeep was the closest to the pyro...
"You see, it's not... not that easy." A small grin pulled on his lips, tossing back the stout glass of bourbon and brandy he'd be given. It was clear he'd had one too many drinks, but that did nothing to ruin his composure, which was always maintained, in drunkeness or sobriety. It was a gift. "I can't just do that. I..." He chuckled, bringing a hand up to run over his face and through his hair. "I am supposed to be doing something... for... something... oh well, couldn't have been too important! I don't forget the good things."
The barkeep simply nodded again, only looking up to watch the door in the back open and an obviously weary traveler step in, cloak tattered, dust and perspiration clinging to a bronzed hand. "What can I get fer ya?" The elderly man asked, watching him seat himself two seats away from the drunken Colonel.
"Whiskey." He said thickly, large left hand coming to rest upon the counter top.
Dark eyes caught the dirty hand, finger nails a repulsive black, but from the size of that hand, he seemed to have incredible muscles hidden beneath that cloak. It was not really a secret that Roy had been quite the sleep-around, men, women, it didn't matter, he learned long ago that sexual orientation never mattered in times of desperation, and he had used them all just like he remembered being one of the willingly used. Whatever distracted a man from his limits, downfalls, or loneliness, it worked, didn't it? "Interesting."
The man's head only turned briefly. A target...
There were many things that he had come here for. He could not sleep, could not rest, and could not be forgiven, despite his attempts to fight in the name of his God. These people called him a cold-blooded killer. The posters decribed him committing heinous crimes, a warrior of God with a scar on his face... they knew nothing of him. He wasn't cold-blooded. He was just as human and sane as any of those hunting him, they simply did not understand. When your people were massacred for the furthering of the military, you held grudges. When you lost your right arm, and almost your life to State Alchemists, people who distorted the beauty that Ishbala had put into all living things...!
He wanted revenge. Revenge was supposed to be sweet, wasn't it? It was supposed to heal the aches in your heart. He knew that it was hardly possible, of course, that killing another would not give a new life to his brother, or the people they had lost, but the fact remained that something had to be done. He had no idea how to expend his grief and anger, there was no way to deal with it. He had no family that suffered and would be a pillar for him, they were all dead.
Cold-blooded was hardly a true fact about his description. He cared. Every person, though on some level he knew that what he was doing was right, and he was sending them to be judged, he also felt the wounds he inflicted deep within. He wanted the pain to stop. If he locked himself away, would that make it stop? No... death would be the only release... and even then, for the deeds he had done, he would never be allowed to rest in peace. His soul would forever lie in torment, unable to settle. However, he knew the laws of his people, and he knew that there would be a time when he would have to accept his fate. He brought it upon himself, he would take it. Both the deaths of the soldiers he had 'smited' in his attempts to purge the world, and the sins that he had done of his own accord.
Red irises, hidden beneath a pair of shades flickered to the man beside him. He remembered him from Ishbal. The Flame Alchemist... Roy Mustang. It was just recently he had attempted to kill the man. He had an air about him that seemed to rain confidence, much like the sky did water that day. Now he seemed like a pathetic drunkard, a washed-up has-been... for a moment, a brief wave of regret washed over him. Back then, the man had killed many of his friends, family, even neighbors he might not have been overly close with. But... he managed to have an aura of regret. He radiated it in each hesitating step, each flick of his fingers that gave birth to that flame. Nonetheless, he killed. He had a choice, and that had been his decision. It was his own doing.
"You know... for a dirty hobo, you're kind of nice on the eyes..."
Scar gave a small snort. "Drunkard. Do you pick up people all the time with that line?"
Roy gave a small shout of protest, glaring through his lids at the man, turning on his barstool with a small sway. "'Ey! 'Ey, I... can pick up anyone I want. I want the hot hobo next to me... wait... custard?"
The Ishbalan was beside himself as he watched the Flame down another bourbon/brandy mix. He was rather comical at the moment, but he was also at that point of annoyance where he wanted to blow his damn head off. What could you do when you had a drunk alchemist with pyrotex gloves probably in his pockets? Besides that, he hadn't come to kill Roy, it was merely coincidence he was here. At the moment, he just wanted a few drinks to pass the time before he went off and found more State Alchemists. It was just his luck he found one. "Have you seen my face?"
"Who says I needtuh?"
"You'd be a bit more convincing if you didn't sound like a five year old."
"Quite the contrary, my friend, the ladies love the cute act, but I suppose you're one of those burly men, looking for a handsome young man or a strong young woman who would melt in your hands like chocolate, just to prove you're the hotter one. Tell me, am I close?"
"I prefer not to do anything against my religion."
"Oh, so you're one of those 'no sex before marriage' and 'sex with same genders is horrific', hmn? And tell me, what has this god ever given you?"
Ishbala gave them life, wasn't that enough? But really, there had been nothing... their people had been slain... their homeland destroyed... their survivors tainted... and Ishbala had allowed it all to happen. No...! Damn alchemist... trying to turn him down the path of herecy...
... Not... that he hadn't already gone against everything his teacher and religion had told him...
Roy laughed coolly, taking a bottle of beer from the barkeep's hand and popping the cap with ease. "Men who can't follow themselves are worthless beings. Every mistake I've made, I've taken onto my shoulders with a deal more than I may have liked, but still, they are my burdens. I don't lay my problems on a false idol that will do nothing for me. No one does anything for another without reason. Religion is an excuse to escape your responsibilities." He raised the bottle, a wide grin on his face. "Hey, invisible guy sitting in the clouds! I'll give you all my troubles, tell you to fix them, and give you nothing but my undying faith in return! Sound fair to you?" The bottle slammed down on the smooth surface harshly, and Scar was rather surprised he hadn't shattered it with such force. Then, after he was sure that the liquid that hadn't sloshed onto the bartop was gone, he continued his little rant. "Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. God doesn't give a damn about you or I. If he does exist, he's sitting up there on those plush clouds, pointing and laughing at our stupidity... We have free will, we should probably use it, right?"
The dark-skinned man frowned, holding the second scotch in his hand, listening to the drunken man complain about it all. He made good points, and for him to accept such things... perhaps he had a bit of respect for him also. That still didn't mean he was getting off. Since he had accepted his sins and his burdens, then he knew that punishment should have been coming. It would be swift and painless, it was the least he could do for the man's honesty. "You're an alchemist, aren't you?" It was a statement, to be nonchalant. He did well to keep his face and right arm hidden, though Roy seemed too drunk to remember his voice, and none of the other patrons of the pub didn't hear him. He had been safe for this long...
"Of course. Why else would I be spending my time here? Wasting away in this pathetic bar. My life is great! It was perfect! But I had to be more. No, Mother and Father's advice wasn't enough, I left everything behind to show them that Amestris wasn't as bad as they came to believe. Why leave Xing if it was bad, you know? Oh, but no, medicinal alchemy wasn't good enough for me, I had to learn flame alchemy. Why does it matter? Aside from the war, my life is great. I'm a powerful, respected man, the ladies, and even some of the more insecure men can't stay away. I'm considered a god among people... a hero... just for slaughtering the stupid people who couldn't just surrender. I have no reason to be sitting here, drinking my sorrows away. So, go on. What are you here for?"
The stray Ishbalan watched the ground contents of his glass carefully. "I have sinned."
"I'm not a preacher." Roy snorted.
"You sound like one, the way you go on."
"Yeah, I'll remember that next time I'm giving my soldiers a pep talk on the front lines. I'll be sure to throw God in there."
"You're the one who should be seeking repentence."
"No. Even if I did believe in your god, there's no reason to lay my burdens on someone else. I said I'd take it. I chose to do it. Only a coward would lay their problems on another. I think I owe that to them." He frowned slightly, smacking his lips, as if tasting a fine wine when the only thing being consumed was a bottle of cheaply beer. "What did you do?"
"I took lives."
"A soldier that was abandoned when the war was done?"
"Then you're a murderer on the loose."
"You're awfully honest. You already know I'm military. Why confess?"
"There's something about you that makes me think."
Roy smiled ruefully, sitting back on his stool. "My own honesty, or the fact that I'm a 'drunken moron'? Either way, I probably won't remember, but the lovely bartender wouldn't mind coming and finding me. What's your name?"
"I abandoned my god-given name."
"You know, you are such an idiot." The Colonel slipped back off his stool. "Do you think that by leaving your name behind that you'll just leave behind your sins? Wear your name proudly, it's who you are. It's the only attachments you have to the innocence that you lost when you tainted your hands. Smart, huh?"
This man was sounding like his teacher more and more as time went on. It was strange, he almost wanted to... smile at the man's words. His drunken rants, his advice, everything, though the ramblings of a man lost in the bottles of booze he seemed to be buried in, made complete sense. Scar was slightly afraid, really. He'd heard many great things (though he would dismiss them as heretics worshipping a lord) about him, and it seemed that some of them weren't entirely rumors. "So you wear your name proudly."
"You can't tell a lot about me by my name. Doesn't fit with where my parents hail from. But it's me, it's all I have, and I'll gladly wear my name than something that was given to me while I was on the run... Scar."
The Ishbalan tensed, turning his eyes on the alchemist. Roy looked so cool and calm, smug smirk in place, but his eyes drooped, showing obvious signs that his crash was coming and he'd be one of the easiest targets to annihilate. "You made a mistake, Alchemist."
"Are you going to 'grant me time to pray'? Because, quite frankly, I don't think it's worth it. I don't believe in God, and I won't start now, it wouldn't be fair of me. I don't give my problems a cause and expect them to work. Not all of us find joy in trying to exact revenge!"
"Then what do you believe in?"
The red-eyed male watched closely, watching the Flame start to shake. Whether it was from unsteadiness from all the drinks he had consumed, even in just the period that Scar had watched him, or a sudden emotional stress, or even some health condition, he wasn't sure, but it took him off guard, and before long, his answer came.
"There's nothing out there you can count on! Everything I believed in is all washed away, dead! So I don't care about anything anymore. Nothing but myself! It'll be my hand to fix what I screwed up and it'll be my hand that my life falls by. No one else can do it for me! Not even Maes..." His fists balled, and, almost as if questioning whether his resolve would waver or not if he peered into that face, he reluctantly looked past his neck. Roy seemed to be fighting himself, and the urge to drop there, either to sob his sorrow or to just pass out (either could have been it, the guy looked practically dead if it hadn't been for the tears lining his lids).
"You now know the pain of those you stripped away, and their loved ones." Scar returned, unsympathetically.
"No." Roy muttered, shaking his head fiercely, to rid himself of the oncoming headache (stupid to do, yes) and the sudden bout of dizziness. "I couldn't hope to understand... I'm scared to..." He settled down on the stool, burying his face in his arms.
After a few silent moments, the Ishbalan finally realized the other had fallen asleep and stood, nodding to Mustang. "He'll take it." He couldn't bring himself to kill him, not yet anyway. There would be a later time for that, when the man was sober, willing to fight, and had that air of confidence that he remembered him possessing. He would return for him when he was the famed Flame alchemist, not a broken man clinging to the hopes someone would forgive him. There was also the issue with earlier... he could have attacked him anytime. It seemed there was a bit more to this particular alchemist. While forgiveness was centuries away, respect, even for an abomination such an alchemist could be born.
The bartender had already contacted the military, but trying to force the scarred man to stay was suicide. He wasn't about to die. They'd catch him soon enough, he thought, watching the cloaked back leave his bar and the tension ease away.