Title: A Red Flower Blossoms
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist (manga)
Characters: Mustang, Kimblee
Word Count: 1266
Summary: In the deserts of Ishbal, Roy Mustang tries to hide his fear from a man who sees everything - the Crimson Alchemist.
Disclaimer: I don't own it. Nope.
Warnings: Oblique references to violence and naughty language^^
Sorry about random line breaks guys... I'll work it out!
A red flower, the sun blossoms.
Night time, full of odd hoots and gullies of silence, is burnt up by the desert hum of morning. Roy Mustang sweats in his cot and remembers winter in Central, where the cold kept him in bed until his foster mother pounded on the door and shamed him to waking. He misses her terribly in those few seconds. What he wouldn't do to have her with him now – she: the grand ark, his moral compass. She used to swipe his backside for being naughty. What the fuck would she make of this then?
Here in the stinging desert, he is being very naughty indeed – oh boy, doesn't he know it.
Across the tent from him, Kimblee yawns through a smile. He is happy to see the morning. A real lark. An animal scurries, rattling against the canvas of the tent. Mustang stills, waiting like a buck caught in the scope of a hunter's gun. These moments are precious. Here in his bed, he can pretend a little longer that judgement doesn't leap from his fingers; a white hot death that makes the other soldiers – killers themselves – tremble in their boots. In his bed, he is still a man – a boy even. Just a few more seconds before he has to climb into the skin of the Flame Alchemist, that's all he needs.
The crickets screech their 'hullo' to the break of day. Kimblee licks his lips.
No such luck.
"Morning, gorgeous," the Crimson Alchemist says. He is smiling still.
Mustang doesn't say a word. He sits up and pushes the heels of his hands into his eyes. He must push Central, his mother – himself – back down inside. Push Roy and Maes and Riza deep inside himself to where the sun cannot penetrate.
Kimblee slips out of bed with a joyous purr. He stretches, then licking his thumb, smoothes out the hair trailing south from his navel. He is a vain sort of monster.
In five steps, Mustang rises, grabs his towel and exits the tent. His efficiency startles even himself, but more than that, he knows: 'I must not let this man in.'
He has a feeling though, that Crimson is on to him.
"Where are you going, Major Flame?" the voice behind him calls. "I do enjoy our little chats."
Al Raqqah is stunning.
It is an exquisite city, set into the southern wall of the Moab Plateau like a jewel. With a turn of his lips, Mustang rejects the Ishvallans' claims that they are not a proud people. They must be: look at what they created.
"Such a pretty trinket," Kimblee says.
With his same practised cool, Mustang ignores the man. It will be an easy job, he thinks – the alchemy, that is. Even so, it doesn't seem right; sending only two alchemists to decimate this desert
Half a kilometre behind them, Mustang knows that soldiers twice his age are worshipping him. And further behind that, miles further – back home in Central – his mother sees a newspaper headline
calling him a hero. He wonders if she sometimes wishes he was born simple.
Death took his parents, spared him, and became his master. Or does he wield the sickle? He can't work it out sometimes. Do his gloves wear him?
"Don't look so miserable, Flame Alchemist," Kimblee says, and he is angry.
For the first time in days, Mustang looks at him. He has never seen this before, and the scientist in him screams: observe!
Blue eyes meet his own. "I've never seen a butcher weep for cattle, nor a farmer grieve his corn. You were born to do this, Flame. Your tears are an insult." He nods towards the city. From this distance, the people look like ants – it never makes the extermination any easier. "You are insulting them."
He doesn't remember looking away, but Mustang curses himself when he realises he is staring at his feet. There is a stain on one of his canvas putties: five red-brown petals that curve around his ankle. That hand is rotten now, its owner a long forgotten meal for vultures.
He swallows and forces himself to meet those chilling eyes. "They aren't around to be anything; insulted or otherwise." His gaze – feeling much too loose for his liking – drifts to the city. "What we're doing; it's wrong."
Kimblee barks a laugh and raises his hands, stretching his fingers. Mustang half imagines claws breaking from the tips. "If you continue to dress your guilt up as compassion, you'll go mad."
"Madness is accepting this..." He wants to say 'evil' but he already feels he has revealed too much. Push him down, he chides. Roy Mustang cannot exist here.
"Well, that is a shame," Kimblee says and claps a hand on Mustang's shoulder. Alchemy sparks against the younger man's neck and pulses through the coarse cotton of his cloak. "Because it's accepted you."
Mustang checks his watch. It's almost time. He kicks up a cloud of dust, not caring if they're spotted by the city scouts now – their observation will only win them terror before their ruin falls. Knowledge is dearly bought in Ishbal.
"We are wretched creatures," he whispers.
Kimblee spins and grabs his jaw, thumb and fingers pushing into the soft flesh of his cheeks.
"No!" The man screams. The echo rips across the sand.
Wide eyed, Mustang tries to quiet the carnal leap of fear in his belly.
"If you love your mercy so much, Major, learn this," he spits. "No-one can kill as beautifully as you do. In this desert, where it's the bayonet and Browning – you are their mercy. Their end remains a mystery to them still; extinguished in the blink of an eye."
He pushes Mustang back, where he stumbles and falls onto his backside. He is on his feet again in a second, but his pride has fled.
Kimblee checks his watch this time.
"You're up, Roy Mustang: sublime death."
The Flame Alchemist pulls tight on his glove.
He snaps. An animal scurries. A red flower blossoms.