This is a KimbleeOC request from StoneArmAlchemist. Thank you for the request and I hope you like it!
There was a leg swinging at the knee over the edge of the roof of a clay hut. The leg connected to a pelvis that connected to a torso that connected to a head that stared over nearly total destruction. Dust coated the sun burnt cheeks like blush—dust coated everything in Ishbal, and the soldiers there were no exception. When the young woman blinked, her lashes were the color of dust too as they cast long, dark shadows down her face in the glare of the setting sun. Her gray eyes flicked downward when her leg was suddenly stopped from swinging. Someone had their hand on her foot and was grinning up at her with a face that was more angular than hers but just as dusty.
"Are you Captain Ira Randall?" the man asked.
"What do you need me for?" Ira asked; her voice was equal parts boredom and presumptuousness, and she had not moved.
"Command wants to talk to you." The man jerked his head towards the inside of the hut she had been assigned to stand lookout for, making his dark ponytail bounce, swing, and then settle. His perpetually snakelike expression changed to mild interest. "By the way, isn't Ira a boy's name?"
"What's your name?"
"Sounds like a girl's name to me," Ira stated brusquely, and went back to surveying the scarred landscape. Kimblee laughed. His hand was still on her foot, and it was starting to annoy her.
"That's my last name," he told her. "I'm Solf—Solf J. Kimblee. Need some help?" He extended a hand to her, exposing a circular tattoo on his palm to her sight. Instead of taking his hand, she stared at that for a few moments.
"You're a state alchemist?"
He glanced at his hand and then chuckled with feigned sheepishness. "Ah, excuse me. I'm Major Solf J. Kimblee, the Red Lotus Alchemist. I like blowing things up. Nice to meet you."
Ira regarded him doubtfully before taking his hand. "Captain Ira Randall. I like watching stuff blow up. Nice to meet you."
That was how they met. It would be a severe exaggeration to say that they were inseparable after that, but Ira knew she would be lying if she said they didn't get on well. There was something about his obvious untrustworthiness that drew her to him, and he seemed to like that she didn't mince words or avert her eyes from destruction. On the other hand, they were too different to always be together; he was friendly and morbidly philosophical, and she was solitary and had learned long ago that over thinking things just irritated her. Their work kept them separate at times too, and she was grateful for those breaks.
They may have been friends, but she had heard the rumors, so it was an unpleasant surprise when she found out that she had been reassigned to his platoon. Fighting alongside him was a death sentence; then again, fighting anywhere in this hell-hole was a death sentence. She was cocky, but not so cocky she thought she could outrun death forever. But Kimblee—he was death. He wielded it, bathed in it, knew the danger of it and reveled in it. It was like he knew nothing of fear.
Ira looked up from cleaning her rifle among the bustle of the camp to meet the languid gaze of the Red Lotus Alchemist. Speak of the devil, and he shall appear. Kimblee waved her over just as the bells clamored, indicating that the next shift was starting. Ira gripped her gun and wiped the sweat from her brow, marching after him onto the battlefield.
"Let's get started," Kimblee chimed, extracting a small something from his pocket. Ira felt as jittery as the soldiers around her, but she didn't allow herself to show it as she watched Kimblee pop something red into his mouth, clap his hands together, and slap them against the dusty ground. Sparking, the ground buckled and erupted with thunder and screams. Ira had never seen something so beautiful. She had seen the results of his work, the craters and rubble and corpses, but watching him in action was so dark and living and purely destructive. Shaking with the rumbling ground that bucked beneath her feet, Ira felt the rush of adrenaline and the fear stalking up her spine, and she relished it like Kimblee relished death. She felt the fruits of his actions. She felt him. She felt.
Kimblee's laughter was ambient among the cacophony of sound as his platoon shot down the stragglers. Debris peppering her shoulders, Ira exchanged fire with two Ishbalans taking refuge in a nearby hut—too close for Kimblee to handle if they didn't want to get caught in the explosion. He didn't seem to think so. The blast knocked Ira off of her feet into a heap of rubble and nearly burst her eardrum. She swore, ears ringing, and propped herself up on her elbows, but stopped short as she met a startled pair of red eyes. The Ishbalan blinked, hesitating. At the same time, she scrambled for her gun and he snatched up a knife and pinned her hand to the ground, inducing a sharp cry. Grimacing at the blade through her hand, Ira gripped at the handle as the Ishbalan pulled a makeshift rifle to him and took aim.
A booted foot came down in the middle of his back without warning, and the Ishbalan cried out and ripped the dagger from Ira's hand to swing at the person behind him. Kimblee whistled, lifting his foot.
"Let me know what hell is like," he mocked; his voice was giddy. Ira didn't close her eyes, even though she wished she did. Seconds later, the Ishbalan was dead and Ira was drenched in the wines of life. Kimblee brushed himself off and extended a tattooed hand.
Ira didn't answer. She was staring into the dripping face of the Ishbalan. Bending down, Kimblee took hold of her arm and pulled her to her feet.
"Goodness gracious," he crooned. "You're a mess. That color suits you, though."
Ira was still staring at the body as he walked her away, supporting her shaky steps with an arm around her waist. He noticed and smiled.
"Don't avert your eyes from death," he told her, brushing a streak of blood from her face. "It claims us all eventually."
Ira quivered. "Even you?"
Kimblee chuckled and didn't answer.
The infirmary was almost as dusty as the rest of the camp and was bustling with people carrying stretchers and shouting for assistance. On one bench, Ira sat remotely with an opened envelope in her lap reading the contents. She didn't look up at the person who approached her until he dropped to crouch at her eye level and lowered the paper with two fingers. Her gray eyes left the letter to blink expectantly at Kimblee's grinning face.
"Hey." He waved cheerfully. Ira raised her left arm and waved back. Kimblee's eyebrows shot up. "What happened?"
Glancing at the stump that remained at the end of her forearm, Ira replied deftly, "The knife wound got infected pretty badly. They had to amputate it at the wrist."
"Ouch. Sorry about that. Does that mean they're sending you home?"
"Probably." Her attention returned to the letter, and he rose to settle on the bench next to her.
"Who's it from?"
"Is she as pretty as you are?"
Ira eyed him appraisingly before stating flatly, "You're not serious."
"I'm always serious."
"No, you're never serious. You're…gah. What are you?" The question was spoken half-jokingly, but there was a serious undertone to it that Kimblee caught. It was normal for ordinary people to be unnerved by his power; the dead Ishbalan was still etched into her pupils. Only now did she want to know what he was, eh?
"I'm a monster," he told her indifferently. "I'm one of those heartless beasts that destroy things for the artfulness of it. Like the serial killers you see on the front page of the newspaper, except I'm employed to do what I love. I'm a monster with a paycheck."
"No, you're not. You're a heretic." That wasn't the response he had expected. Ira was looking him straight in the eye. "You're someone with an unusual philosophy that 'normal' people don't like, and since you know that, you can mask it. Like me. You're a heretic."
"Like you?" Kimblee raised a brow. "You and I are awfully different, Randall."
"Yes, we are. In our thoughts, we are complete opposites. You see what you want to do, and you do it. You bend some rules, do a little cover-up, and you do it without remorse. Do you know who feels that remorse? I do." Ira set down the letter to place her good hand meaningfully over her chest. "I can't do those kinds of things, Kimblee. I get scared. I feel the consequences before they happen and miss the high of triggering them. I'm all thought, no action, but when I see other people destroying things like I want to, it's just as good as doing them myself. You're like…You're the cause to my effect. You do things, and I feel everything behind them—the pain, the remorse, the thrill—I feel everything, and I love it. Maybe it's masochistic, but I love it."
Kimblee regarded her in bemusement for a long time before a slow smile spread across his face. "It's like loving death, but not wanting to die."
Letting out a long breath, Ira leaned back against the wall. "Kimblee, when you said 'It claims us all eventually,' did you mean yourself too?"
"Well, I did say 'us all', didn't I?"
"But were you thinking of you?"
"I don't remember."
Kimblee moistened his lips and glanced at the tattoos on his palms; a sun and a moon. Light and dark. Cause and effect. Finally, he resumed his characteristic smile. "Death has already claimed me. That's the only way to be truly free of it."
"You're wrong. You can't be free of it until you die."
"Well," he settled, "until then, it's good enough to be the cause of it."
Ira's gray eyes held his for a long time until she turned her gaze down to the stump at the end of her arm and placed her remaining hand over it, biting her lip.
"We've settled…that you're the cause and I'm the effect. So if your solution is to cause death, then mine…"she trailed off and took a deep breath.
"Mm?" he leaned closer to hear her lowered voice.
"When I die, I want you to be the one to kill me."
His hands curled lightly around her throat, and his face drew closer to hers to whisper something, but he spoke so softly she couldn't hear it. She felt the consequences of it, though, as it grazed her lips.
Death's kiss had disastrous effects. A passerby spread the rumors of the infamous alchemist's new "favorite," resulting in some aversion to her from her comrades which spread to her superiors. She received little pity for her injury and was kept on the warfront. And when she was wounded in combat, no one came to her aid. The Red Lotus Alchemist could not fulfill her request.
That was the first time Kimblee felt the effects of his actions. He never let himself deal with consequences again.
Not until the day his life fled with them.