Author’s Note/Disclaimer: okay, I came up with the idea for this fic kind of on a whim… It started out as some pre-series drabbles that I then found went nicely with an old song I learned a long time ago, so a quasi songfic was thus born. (I say quasi- because it's considerably more fic than song lyrics...)
The information I have to support it comes from both the manga and anime for HagaRen…and, in that, conflicts a little bit, so I sort of had to fudge a few things. There was information in the anime that was not mentioned in the manga (yet?) and many scenes in the manga that didn’t make it to the anime…so unless you are familiar with both of them, some things may leave you scratching your head. Also, there were a few discrepancies between the two, such as who was responsible for the death of the Drs. Rockbell. So if you haven't, go read the manga, kids, it’s good stuff. The anime isn’t the whole story by a long shot. Heh, just FYI.
This story is set mainly during the war in Ishbal, so some scenes may contain passages that contain graphic mental images. Also, like anyone presented with ambiguous holes in the information given, I have taken some liberties with events in the storyline that were left unexplained or partially so. All events/characters/situations are copyright Arakawa Hiromu-sensei, BONES, and any other rights-holding companies, 2002-present. Song lyrics copyright Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter, 1969.
This story will contain spoilers for episode 25 and manga chapter 15. Also, ranks will be written in japanese when people are being addressed. i.e. taisa instead of colonel. i just think they sound so much better that way. u__u
While this is really set up as a one-shot, and the divisions aren't really offically *chapters*, there are four *sections* to the fic, so i figured it's better to break them up than to post the whole thing all at once.
Yeesh...even my oneshots are novels... i'm so incorrigible...
Many thanks to quis for being my beta on this fic! Persimmons for all! XD
sate~ ikimashou ka?
It smelled like death. The air was thick with the mist of fog and the stench of blood and gunpowder; the bittersweet perfume that was both victory and defeat at the same time.
He hated that smell.
Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago…
Victorious or not, he would never get to like the smell of blood. Even now, it was making the inside of his stomach churn uncomfortably, and he could feel the bile rising in the back of his throat. No matter how many promotions it promised to earn him, no matter how many stars it would put on his shoulder…Major Roy Mustang would never be fond of the smell of the spilled blood of the enemy.
He slowly, methodically removed the gloves from his hands, scowling at the black soot and tacky blood that had stained them. Dammit, that was the third pair he’d gone through that week. When was this going to end? He was tired of sitting at the riverside scrubbing until the fibers wore thin and the delicately sewn transmutation arrays inlaid in the filament became warped and misshapen from scouring. But he refused to wear them stained. His hands were bloodied enough; he didn’t desire his wardrobe to be.
After all…clothes could be washed…bleached… The blemishes could be removed, or the garments discarded.
Not so his skin…or his soul. He needed no further reminders of his sins…
How did one wash the blood from their conscience? he wondered absently, shoving the gloves into the pocket of his black overcoat. Or then…perhaps it was easier just to fashion up a new one…?
'Bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley folk below.
Roy shook his head slowly, a few strands of his pitch-black hair falling over one eye.
“Come now, come now,” came a raspy voice, and Roy winced, “is that fitting posture for someone who just triumphed the day’s work?”
Roy’s onyx eyes flashed in the fading purple light of dusk, and he lifted his head to see a tall, painfully skinny man standing before him, long hands in his pockets, lean face stretched in an ear-to-ear grin. The man’s perfect white teeth seemed out of place against his sunken eyes and sallow complexion, and Roy fought the urge to curl his upper lip in a scornful grimace.
“Kimblee,” he growled softly, “to what do I owe the honor of your presence…?”
Major Zolof J. Kimblee snorted a laugh and ran one spindly hand through his long, stringy ponytail. He shoved a large rock onto its side with one boot and took a seat upon it, his spidery legs drawn up near his chest. Pulling a cigarette from behind his ear, he tucked it into one corner of his mouth and patted the left pocket of his uniform trousers.
“Are~…? That’s odd,” he mumbled through the cigarette, “I could have sworn I had a…”
His thoughts trailed off, and he lifted his beady yellow eyes to meet Roy’s. There was a smirk hidden behind them.
“Got a light, Shousa?” he asked with a sly grin, and that sneer Roy had managed to keep at bay before slithered over his face.
“That joke was old the first time you did it, Kimblee,” he snarled, folding his arms over his chest. “What makes you think it gets any funnier as time passes?”
Kimblee chewed on the end of the cigarette and tried his other pocket.
“Everything gets funnier over time, Mustang,” he assured the younger man, “you’ll see.” His golden eyes lit up briefly. “Ah! There it is…”
He pulled the lighter from the hidden pocket of his trousers and brought it up to his face, flicking the igniter twice before success. He lit the end of the tobacco stick and sucked on it a moment before shoving the lighter back into his pocket and pulling the cigarette from his mouth to puff a smoke ring toward his associate.
“In time, even this war will be humorous,” the skinny man said, sticking the cigarette back into his mouth and poking the end of it with his tongue. “Just wait. One day, you’ll look back on this and laugh.”
Roy gave him a venomous look.
“Maybe you will.”
Kimblee gave a long, thin smile and tilted his head.
“That’s your problem, Mustang,” he said, rising to stand again and taking a somewhat menacing step toward Roy, “you ain’t got no sense of humor.”
“I just fail to see humor in the unnecessary loss of life,” he corrected, and Kimblee laughed aloud.
“It’s us or them, Mustang,” he said, removing the cigarette again and leaning his face in close to Roy’s. He reeked of tobacco and cheap vodka, and Roy took a step back. Kimblee chortled and breathed a small cloud of smoke out from between his teeth, making Roy cough lightly before the younger officer took another step away from his peer. “Better these freaks than us, right?”
Roy’s face scrunched in disgust.
“And just what makes you better than them?”
Kimblee’s tapered eyes narrowed, and he reached into his pocket again, removing his silver State Alchemist watch.
“This does,” he said simply, swinging it in circles and advancing on Roy again. “Those bastards don’t even believe in alchemy. What do they know?” He chewed on the end of the cigarette. “What does their great deity know that we don’t, huh? How can a god forbid a natural science? What kind of god is that? They don’t know anything! How can we not, therefore, be better?”
“Is that for us to decide?”
Roy’s voice was acidic.
Kimblee lifted his eyebrows and put his watch back into the pocket of his trousers.
“Perhaps not,” he replied, scratching the back of his neck, “but we’re under orders to annihilate every last one of them… So it’s rather unwise to question authority, unless you’re looking to get court-martialed.”
That long, thin smile stretched across his face again, and Roy had a sudden overwhelming urge to punch the daylights out of Kimblee.
On the mountain was a treasure
Buried deep beneath the stone…
The taller man took a long drag off his cigarette, then held his breath a moment.
“But, then…” he began slowly, exhaling in a stream of silver smoke, “I suppose there’s a greater objective in this…” He snickered. “Everyone knows the Ishbalites are of no threat to the military.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Kimblee shoved his hands back in his pockets and chewed in the shrinking cigarette.
“Think about it, Mustang, if you can,” he said slowly, moving in a deliberate circle around the younger major. “The Ishbal people barely hold the technology to survive in this world…much less launch an attack on the military running it.” His yellow eyes glinted as the sun sank below the horizon and plunged the camp into indigo darkness. “It’s just like in nature… Animals in the wild don’t attack a lesser creature unless they intend to eat it. Likewise, the military wouldn’t waste its manpower and resources on a non-aggressive adversary unless there was something to gain from it.” He removed the cigarette and clamped it between two bony fingers. “Touka koukan, right?” he asked slowly. “They must have something the Daisotou wants…else what would be the point of attacking and destroying them, hm?”
Roy sighed in contempt.
“Shut up, Kimblee.”
A harsh guffaw.
“You’re such an ass, Mustang,” the elder man jeered, wrapping his tongue around the cigarette again. “You ignore what you know is true even when it’s right in front of your face.”
And the valley people swore
They’d have it for their very own…
Roy drew a breath, forbidding himself to speak the stream of obscenities that were just itching to roll off his tongue, and was about to select a few choice words from the string to send Kimblee’s way when the sound of soft footsteps halted him.
Oh, thank God… He’d know those footfalls anywhere.
“Mustang Shousa, there you are…”
Kimblee snickered softly and lifted his golden eyes as a young woman with short blonde hair flickered into view in the rapidly fading light from the sky. She was youthful, slim; prettier than one would expect from a military woman, but Riza Hawkeye was not one to be taken lightly. For a second lieutenant to be sent to the front lines of an inter-border conflict, she had to be damn good at what she did. Kimblee had never seen her in action…but the rumor around the camp was that she could shoot the wings off a fly from 300 yards.
“Evenin’, Shoui,” he greeted softly, bowing his head, and Riza’s mahogany eyes narrowed slightly.
“Shousa,” she acknowledged, and then without further attention paid to Kimblee, she gave Roy a chiding look. “They’re looking for you in the mess tent,” she told him, and her brow knit. “Gran Junshou wanted to commend you on your…”—her eyes darkened a little—“actions today.”
Roy sighed, then shook his head.
“I don’t believe it’s anything to be praised for,” he replied, and Hawkeye’s shoulders sagged a little.
“Then at least come have something to eat,” she urged. “It’s getting cold now that the sun has gone down. You shouldn’t be out here like this.”
Kimblee chortled in the darkness and pulled out his lighter again, flicking the igniter switch and illuminating the little scene with a tiny orange flame.
“How cute,” he said. “Even in the throes of war, romance can blossom on the battlefield.”
“Shut up, Kimblee,” Roy said again, and the older man lifted his free hand.
“All right, all right,” he snorted, “I can tell when I’m not wanted.” He flicked the lighter closed and shoved both hands in his pockets, chewing on the tiny stub of cigarette that remained. He ambled slowly past Roy and paused a moment alongside Hawkeye. “Can I interest you in a smoke, Shoui?” he offered jovially, and she gave him an icy stare.
“No, thank you, Shousa,” she replied, deadpan. “There is enough smoke in the air without you and the other men contributing to it. I feel I must decline.”
Kimblee made a squealing noise at her biting remark, then laughed aloud—a brassy, unpleasant sound—and sauntered slowly away from Roy and the lieutenant, humming softly to himself. Roy chuckled quietly, and Riza gave him a sidelong glance.
“Was that amusing, Sir?” she asked, genuinely curious as to what he found entertaining about the exchange, and he waved a hand dismissively.
“No, no, I wasn’t laughing at you, Shoui,” he assured her gently, moving to take a seat on the rock Kimblee had overturned. “It’s just funny to me how you always know when to make an appearance.”
He grinned and rested his chin in his hands, elbows perched on his knees.
“I was just thinking to myself that I wished someone would come put Kimblee in his place,” he told her, and then chuckled again. “And then…there you were.”
Riza gave a small smile.
“Always glad to help, Sir.”
Roy sighed, and Riza shuffled her way through the darkness of nightfall to move to his side.
“Something wrong, Sir?”
“Is anything not?” he countered, and she cocked her head in confusion.
“This whole thing reeks,” he told her. “I just…can’t help thinking I’m aiding in the making of a horrible mistake…”
Riza placed a hand on his shoulder, and he looked up at her.
“Sir, mistake or no, I’m with you no matter the path.”
He looked back down at the sand beneath his feet and then shut his eyes.
“Then I suppose it can’t be all bad,” was all he said, and Riza chuckled and reached into her pocket.
“Here, Sir,” she said, holding her hands out, and he looked at her.
She placed something soft into his palm and smiled.
“You stained your gloves with soot again, didn’t you?” she asked knowingly, and he laughed.
“Nothing escapes your hawk eyes, does it?” he chortled, admiring the stitching job she had done on the new pair of gloves.
She smiled—“I do my best to live up to my name, Shousa,”—and nodded her head back toward the mess tent. “Come, Sir,” she urged, “it’s gotten dark. Let’s go inside.”
Roy nodded, and she turned to head back. He hesitated a moment and glanced up at the black sky above him, squinting as if to try and see the stars that floated so many millions of miles beyond the layer of clouds that hung low over the earth.
He wondered absently if the eyes of the people whose lives had been lost in the war were somewhere squinting back at those who had lived…?
Go ahead and hate your neighbor
Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven,
Justify it in the end.
There won’t be any trumpets blowin’
Come the judgment day…
On the bloody morning after…
One tin soldier rides away.
and that concludes section one. there was only one thing that really bugged me about this one... was Basque Gran a Brig. Gen. during Ishbal or was he promoted thereafter? I couldn't recall... O_o
also, the song i have based this on is called "One Tin Soldier". it's a really pretty old war song i learned when i was a kid at girl scout camp, and it always stuck with me cuz it always made me cry. ;; i'm a sucker for a song with a moral. anyway, all the vocal versions of the song i was able to find were cheesy, but here is a nice instrumental converted MIDI (thanks for that link hitokiri!!) for anyone who is interested in hearing it. apparently attachments cannot exceed 2MB, so i had to trim the mp3, so it's only one verse's worth of it, but it's all repeated after that, so this should give you an idea of the melody. enjoy!