In the several hundred years that Time had left Van Hohenheim untouched, it had also left it's pace unchanged for his perception. Only once before could he recall it distorting itself for him since he had unwittingly exchanged all of his countrymen for immortality: it had slowed to a dreadfully slow and horrific pace the moment he heard the voices of the trapped Xerxesians crying from within him for the first time. Their terror had only matched his own, engulfing him in a sea of pained emotion that the collective 536, 329 citizens made in their torment, echoing to throughout his entire being.

Once he had finally emerged from the depths, his view of the world had changed irrevocably. He was undying at the cost of every soul he had known, and he was now absent of Time's touch. Taken as a token of equivalent exchange from the Truth, he would later surmise, to turn Time into his only cruel companion. To flow unwaveringly beside him as his only eternal friend.

That was until he met Trisha.

Trisha Elric had not only challenged his paradigm of which he had tried to piece together throughout all of these extended years, but also every concept about the universe he had collected since. All shattered in her endless affection, evaporated in the presence of her infinitely fond smile.

She had outwitted him, and Time as well.

"You know what I am, and yet you still stay?"

"It isn't about what you are that matters Van, but who you are."

She tore down all the walls in mere moments. Destroyed, by such simple and undeniable words.

"But what if he ends up as monstrous as I?" He could feel the warm hum of life beneath her skin. He couldn't discern any difference in the boy to the ones he had cared for in Xing, which he, and only he, was able to tell without having to see, but was still wary.

"I don't know what monster you're speaking about, but," reaching onto her toes to kiss his cheek, "I wouldn't have it any other way."

He'd never known before that it was possible to make fears evanescent.

"Promise me, please, Trisha, that you won't tell the boys what I truly am."

She looked at him from across the pillow surface. Every distance he tried to create, every gap he attempted to make, stood no chance. Instantaneously filled by the aura of her eyes.

"I promise," she whispered with a smile, turning over to press her back to his embrace. "Because you'll tell them yourself when you're ready."