Disclaimer: I do not own FMA or any of the characters.

"I'll do it."

The words echoed dully round the room, filled with papers and books, and lastly in his ears, seeming to take longer than usual to process through his mind, as he sat at his desk, hand poised to make the downstroke on the next letter on the page he was writing. He hadn't quite been paying attention, the letter in front of him absorbing his mind. Do it? Do what?

But looking up, he saw his daughter's determined face- scared, pale, and framed by the wispy blonde hair she'd gotten from him, and knew what she meant. Watched her steel herself to repeat herself, saw the hand she held at her side twist into a fist, and silently close her eyes.

"I said I'll do it, Father."

The pen dripped, one...two-three, on the page, and he watched his hand stick it back in the inkwell, letting his arm fall back to his lap, closing his eyes and sitting back in his chair, smile growing on his lips. The breath he'd taken in, exhaled in a long, slow "Ahhhh."

Ah, my Riza. When did you see the solution I saw?

The smile twisted, half obsession, half irony. When had she grown large enough to bear his mark?

She was his blank page, and she, like the page, would be stained with the drips of his ink.

You don't even know what you're giving up for me, Riza.

But you believe everything I told you, and that was enough to make you choose this.

You remember everything I told you about the happiness this could bring to people, don't you.

More than that- you're willing to do this for me, because this is my life's work, aren't you? You have no idea what you're giving up.

He opened his eyes, lidded and burning like dying embers, and looked at her where she stood, twisted smile still on his mouth, already planning the logistics. Already planning how to turn this girl, this scared-brave daughter of his, into his final project.

It would wait until summer, so she wouldn't miss school while she recovered. It would have to wait until then so she had time to remember what she could no longer do, wear, say, or be. She could no longer show her back to anyone. It would belong to ihim/i now, him and him only, and nothing would ever be able to change that. She would be the gatekeeper. She would give up normalcy in favor of the mere semblance of normal.

But she had offered. And it was the answer he had seen. The only foolproof one.

His art was perfected, and he was satisfied. With its hiding he would be what he had known he would become- a dead man.

Oh, he would be damned forever for getting her to agree to this.