Imperfect Mold

Author - D M Evans

Rating - teen

Character - Hohenheim

Timeline- from well before the series beginning up to when the brothers are just boys, definitely spoilers for chapters 73+ (vol. 19)

Series - Manga

Summary - He is far too imperfect for his own tastes

Word count - 998

Author's Note - Hohenheim could have gone on forever. Thanks to SJ Smith for the beta. Written for the fma_fic_contest's fallible prompt on livejournal

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He hated that he was fallible and yet Hohenheim knew that he was in so many terrible ways. It was more bare ignorance than fallibility that first led him into collusion with Homunculus. What had he known about anything? He was nothing but an uneducated slave boy, just a little ball of human failing back then. Greedy to know more, envious of the Homunculus' knowledge, angry at his status in life, prideful once he realized he now knew more than his fellow slaves, lustful even as his Master comprehended that he had a slave of many talents and put him out to stud among the slave girls like a prized stallion.

Those poor children of his, so long dead now, how he had failed them. Not that he had been allowed a chance to be a father. His master saw to it that he rarely had contact with those children. Hohenheim had more important tasks to attend to in the alchemy lab as far as the Master was concerned. That was why he tried to play Homunculus off, when it teased him about being his father. He shuddered, remembering being bled to make the creature, wondering if he would die in the process.

All his failings had been incorporated into that monstrous Homunculus and in turn, most of Xerxes had been locked into his body, mingling with his soul. Hohenheim remembered his failings then. He kept telling himself he couldn't have known what Homunculus was up to but still he felt the fault was his own.

It had taken a long time to learn how to live again, how to keep his sanity with the maelstrom of screaming, disembodied souls whirling through him. The thought of those early years, the cacophony of the damned echoing in his head, could still make Hohenheim shudder. He embodied fallibility. He hadn't stopped his master and Homunculus. He couldn't give these people back their lives. Hell, he could barely live in a way that didn't dishonor their memory.

He wandered east after the Xingese merchants took him in. Those years in Xing were some of his best. Hohenheim learned to live like a free man. It was harder than he had thought, making decisions for himself. At first, he kept looking for someone to lead him until a monk of some religion he didn't truly understand, took him in. Chao taught Hohenheim how to calm his mind and Hohenheim used it to learn to speak to those inside him.

A mistake of epic proportions; one of his daughters, Roshan, resided inside him now and the reality of that nearly made him lose his mind. Chao worked hard to bring him back from that brink. That's when Hohenheim truly realized he couldn't die. His mistakes continued as he slowly over the decades conversed with the souls inside him, all except Roshan, too ashamed of his many failures where she was concerned: siring her on his Master's command, letting her be sold to a merchant prince's daughter as a maid, not keeping her safe. He could be as cowardly as he was flawed but eventually he learned to listen to her, wishing he had known her better in life.

After a while, he wandered west, taking his alchemy with him there, too. Sadly, Hohenheim knew his imperfections didn't improve with time. If anything, he slowly got worse. He didn't age, he didn't sicken and he healed from everything. He wrote down his experiences as the Philosopher Stone, obscuring it in code, occasionally hiding it when he became afraid the knowledge was too dangerous to be known. Time disjoined him from humanity every bit as much as being the Stone did. Soon there was no one left to him but the undying inside him and Homunculus, wherever the monster had gone to ground. It was careful to avoid him.

There were other very good reasons to avoid getting overly involved with humanity: it hurt him when they aged and died and time left him unweathered. Sometimes he forgot those hard learned lessons, did a little male bonding, fell in love. After a while, it was easier to be a bad husband, a terrible friend and just move on before time left him facing questions he couldn't answer without them looking at him like he was a monster.

Still, he couldn't help himself from repeating these cycles of failures because it was too lonely not to. Deep inside he was still human, many humans truthfully. Just look where he was now. He lived next door to a woman he used to drink with. Hohenheim smiled, fondly remembering the wild abandoned nights with Pinako and Dominic and the others. What a wild cat she had been. Now, her granddaughter was the same age as his son. Pinako had to see that time's tight grip couldn't hold him. He could see it in Pinako's eyes when she looked at him and hid the pictures of her youth.

Trisha knew what he was. His love compelled him to tell her so she wouldn't go into it blindly. One more fallibility to stack on a huge pile generated by his unnaturally long life. However, Trisha didn't turn from him. She only loved him more. Trisha wanted a family more than anything and even though he knew better, he gave her one.

Peering in at his sons sleeping, Hohenheim knew he had been so foolish. Once again he would have to watch his family age without him. No, no I won't, he thought bitterly. He knew that he would soon be gone. He tried to hide it from Trisha but he failed. She promised to wait, begged him to stay. Hohenheim knew he couldn't. He couldn't even hold his babies. Their vitality, the sheer life in them, made the voices inside him how in anguish over what they had lost so long ago. It broke his heart.

Even knowing it was yet another mistake, Hohenheim would soon break theirs.