The young alchemist stood on the crumbling brink wall, looking over what was left of the city; the hot desert hair tugged at his short dark hair and pelted him with sand. It hurt where it hit the bare skin of the back of his neck, and his blue uniform was faded almost grey and was rough from the particles embedded in it; his pale creamy skin had been burned and scraped to a raw pink from the harshness of sand and sun within three days of arriving in Ishbaal, but Roy knew that it didn't matter.
No amount of scouring would ever be enough to clean the taint of war from his flesh.
They said that it was duty. That there was no greater loyalty than serving your country in times of conflict. They'd spoken of keeping house and hearth safe from foreign invaders. They had said that it was a necessary evil. They said that there was a time for everything under the sun, including war.
This is the way the world ends.
Roy didn't turn at the sound of feet crunching up the slope; although none of the other soldiers had bothered making the hike up to this teetering wall from base camp, it wasn't unlikely that a messenger had been sent up to tell him to report in, to receive new directives, or simply to inform him that this place was off-limits. That last wouldn't surprise him at all, though it would hurt. This was his place, the place where he could look down on his own handiwork and mourn the loss of his innocence quietly and without interruption, and he needed it—some sacred space in this unholy time of his life.
The newcomer stepped up onto the wall beside Roy, and the Flame Alchemist jerked around at the sound of that voice. Of all the people...
Kimbley didn't bother to look at him at first, preoccupied with the view of the blackened, scorched bowl far below, which gave him time to recompose the lines of his face into something other than shock and the almost instinctive fear and disgust of one who's almost put their hand down on an open-mouthed rattlesnake.
The wind toyed with the rope of dark hair, sending it slithering over one shoulder to wave like a pennant behind him, and Kimbley didn't seem to notice the hot sand-blasting he was receiving, though, as usual, he was only wearing a white tanktop turned grey from dust and dirt and his desert scrub khakis.
And the Stone, of course.
Roy removed his in his off-duty time—hell, most of the men did—but the Crimson Alchemist never did, even to the point of sleeping and showering with the damned thing still around his neck. There was something disquieting about that, something that set alarms off deep in Roy's mind, something that was even more disturbing than the way that Kimbley gloated over the picture of death and destruction before him.
He gave a sideways glance at Roy, yellow eyes slitted under dark lashes against the sand-laden wind, kicking at the loose stone under his boots.
"Beautiful," he purred again, a smile curling the edges of his lips, and Roy shivered despite the heat.
This is the way the world ends.
"What's the matter, Flame?" Kimbley took a step forward in response to Roy's one back, and a few rocks clattered down the slope. He was smiling still, broadly, arrogantly, an expression that Roy recognized from the battlefield and which made fear spark in his belly, low and hot.
It wasn't the power he was afraid of—God knew he had enough matching explosiveness in hand—but Crimson's sheer vicious joy in using it... and the fact that he was advancing on his own ally with that murderously gleeful smirk. Roy didn't want to give any more ground; he didn't want to seem nervous—he had no doubt that Kimbley would act as any other predator would and pounce if he saw even a second's hesitation—but it was hard not to move.
Roy took another involuntary step back, but the crumbling stonework cracked under his weight and skidded to the side; he stumbled, slid, and flailed uselessly, trying to regain his balance before he fell face-first down the rocky desert slope... but a cool hand caught his wrist and yanked him back up to more stable footing. Roy didn't have time to even catch his breath before he found himself pressed close to a thin chest, taut with lean muscle, a strong arm wrapped around his back.
"Let go of me." He wished he could sound a little more coldly demanding, a little more in charge. A little less breathless. A little less like his heart trip-hammering in his chest. With the Red Stone this close, he doesn't dare summon the flame; it'd be too strong, too chaotic to control with any certainty, and he didn't want to kill any more; he'd had enough of smoking death to last any man a lifetime.
Kimbley spun Roy around sharply, still holding him against his chest but forcing him to look out over the destroyed city below. "I came up here for the same reason you did," he said, a warm growling purr against the Flame Alchemist's ear, and his tongue flicked out to taste the sand and salt coating his flesh before he spoke again. "I am Ozymandias; look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!" He chuckled, a low silky sound, and Roy shuddered, twisting violently against the hands that held him.
"I told you to... !" He cut himself off, freezing. The hands on his arm and waist were suddenly warm, quite warm, too warm. Crimson chuckled again.
"I could. I could. It'd be so fucking easy... " This last trails off into a groan, and Kimbley's licking his ear again, mouth dipping to bite the side of his neck hard enough to make Roy gasp and try to jerk free once more. "Beautiful..." he breathes again, and suddenly Roy realizes how aroused the man behind him is, how he can't resist this: the burning pain of sand and sun, the vision of blasted horror in the valley below them, Roy's resistance and his own dangerous power, and he closes his eyes to it all, fighting not to feel, not to realize.
He forces one hand up to slide into the sleek, dark strands of the head curled into the crook of his shoulder, encouraging another bite. The pain felt good. Righteous. Healing. It didn't turn him on, but it did do something
It's easier than he would have thought to lose himself in this unfolding act that he doesn't want but doesn't quite dare actively resist. He knows he'll regret this later, but that just makes the moment sweeter, the horror of it sharper and more cutting.
Kimbley's fingers are hard against his face, turning him into a rough, mocking kiss, and Roy whines into it, hating the other alchemist, hating himself, hating the war and the military and the world, and the thought streaks through his mind like a shooting star: It'd be better if he did blow me to hell and scatter my ashes to the wind; anything is better than living with this.
But he wouldn't, Roy knew. A true sadist knew when death was a mercy.
Not with a bang but a whimper.