by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: FMA is not mine.

AN: End-of-series, movie-ignoring, featuring broody-and-probably-drunk Mustang.

- - -

At first glance, there is nothing wrong with him. Pale skin, bright hair, young and beautiful and yet everything is so completely utterly wrong when he opens those lovely, empty eyes.

Alphonse-that-was had eyes of soulfire, and Alphonse-that-is has eyes of soulfire, and he isn't sure which is the more frightening, the spirit sealed to steel by will and blood and sacrifice, or the spirit sealed to flesh by will and blood and sacrifice.

When he looks, he expects to see Alphonse-that-was, and it's an unpleasant shock to drop his glance down a foot or more to find the fierceness of an Elric in a temper wrapped up in a stranger's eyes.

It's not quite perfect enough, Alphonse is not Edward's twin, but the resemblance is painful, enough that it makes his chest seize and Hawkeye tense and Armstrong watch the boy with a wary, considering eye. And it's not that he isn't lovely, it's not that he isn't as kind and gentle as ever, it's not that he isn't that same as he ever was. It's not that he doesn't know them, it's not that he's not brilliant, it's not that he's not as lovely as life and as death and undying love.

He wonders, sometimes, if this is what Edward has always seen - wildfire burning, curbed by will and kindness, and Alphonse is nothing and everything all at once - not as bright as beaten gold, no, but gold was soft, gold was malleable, and Edward would break and break and break and break, too fragile to be so strong. They're both guilty, they're both sin-made-flesh, and they're a million miles away, and though it's heartbreak to see them apart, he's terrified of them whole and together.

When Alphonse moves, he dances, and trying to catch him is like trying to cup a whirlwind in your hands. Edward was like that, but Edward was still a child, and Edward had Alphonse and Edward could break. Alphonse is too old for his age, too clever for his shyness, and if he weren't so terribly frightening they could still love him like they used to do, maybe more, now that he couldn't willingly sink into the shadow of his brother.

But Edward - sparks in the night, an explosion at dawn, and when all the dust settled he would be gone - beautiful, tarnished Edward was mortal and missing, and if he thought too long and too hard on it, he would die weeping for them both.

And really, it's a blessing, it's a fucking miracle that Alphonse is so gentle, so calm, so devoted to his cause, because any child with so much power is an angel fallen from paradise, and when the angels fell, they ripped the heavens down screaming with them.

Alphonse has soulfire eyes and an acre of blond hair and a smile enough to melt souls to his bidding. And somehow, some way, this is all Edward's fault, and yet, it can't possibly be.

Edward was impossible to stop because he was so human.

Alphonse is impossible to stop because he isn't.

You did this, he whispers to the sly-eyed boy who lurks in his dreams, You made him your god and now he is one.

And dream-Edward looks at him and laughs and laughs and laughs and laughs, because he knows the secret to the universe, and he's known it all along, and even an Elric in a dream knows where his world is, a lifetime and a reality away.

And Alphonse - sweet shy tender beautiful darling unknowing terrible Alphonse - just smiles like the young man he isn't and glides away, bright and seeking, confident that he'll find his brother someday.

And he will, because love that fierce is power itself, and even worlds apart, there will be no stopping him. It's only a matter of time before the world-walls fall between them.

He likes to look at Alphonse, but he can't bear it for long. Even a blind man can be blinded, and it's already impossible to look away.

Alphonse has soulfire eyes.

It's the most human thing about him.

- - -

Alkahest: The alkahest is the power from Above that makes possible alchemical transformation. The word is usually translated as "universal solvent," which alludes to the ability of the alkahest to dissolve or reduce all physical matter to its basic essence. With metals, this meant transmuting them to their purest form, which was gold. In the human body, this meant the creation or revealing of a golden body of consciousness, the Astral Body.