He shuffled left, then shuffled right. His arms came up to clap as he spun in a graceful circle, exchanging places with his partner. The fox-trot, the tango, the waltz, the box-step; he interchanged styles to his own inner tempo; never missing a step, never missing a beat, never missing. His face remained grim as his own song pounded along; sweat, blood, and tears mixing with the fat of his victims on his face. His partners changed intermittently, sometimes dancing with him, sometimes before him, sometimes being flung wide in a round circle to the horror of anyone left alive who might sneak up on him. His men were lost somewhere; they couldn't keep up after the first crescendo.

It was the final push for the end of Ishbal. All remaining state alchemists were ordered to the front ranks for the final assault of the annihilation campaign. He no longer recognized the words as they repeated in his mind, becoming part of the chorus of screams and cries accompanying his symphony. Blood and sweat flew from his limbs as he twirled; sweat from the oppressive heat; blood because every piece of sand that reached him through his flames became a little piece of glass, cutting or grinding into him.

The more he twisted and strided across that beautiful ballroom the more he lost himself. He lived for the flames and glory. He no longer realized it was people he was burning; his beautiful companions flames. Every flick of his fingers was a lover's kiss; every beautiful explosion the grandest of fireworks. And yet, every time his eyes closed, unable to endure his own creations, he saw her. At first she was hauntingly beautiful, innocent and pure. Each successive vision saw her turn sad and spoiled, until now she was crying tears that matched his.

He felt his melody falter as the most vital part of the chorus gave out. He shuffled franticly, trying to keep it going. He twirled again, fire flowing behind him in a circle. Completing his circuit, he was brought short by his arm hitting a wall. He stared at it dumbly as the air around him buzzed, all traces of the lovely opera he was starring in gone. He leaned his back against the wall and strived to remember his purpose as he slowly slid down the crude structure to rest in the sand.

It was some time later when he came back to himself. Slender fingers, worn with calluses around his neck. He immediately snapped, afraid that he hadn't done a good enough job. The fingers moved away, but no flames came. He opened his eyes, staring into the blazing metallic sky in confusion.

"I took your gloves. I had a feeling you might react that way, sir."

He didn't answer as he forced himself upright, coming face to face with the sad woman who cried with him. He was horrified as he stared into her eyes, seeing nothing but a killer lurking there. Before she could move away he lashed out, wrapping both arms around her tiny form, knocking her off balance and onto her rear in the sand. He ignored her protests, gathering every inch of her he could into his lap. He buried his face in her chest, ignoring the perfect breasts that were so close to his lips and the way they heaved against him as she struggled to breathe. He waited a grand total of 3 seconds before he burst into tears. He prayed in vain for her to cry with him and cried all the harder when he realized damn well why.