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Saving Souls


You call me cold.

Ironic, all things considered.

A "cold bastard." "Cold-hearted." That last one is usually paired with "vindictive", "hard-ass", and/or "bastard", at least the times that I've been (deliberately, I'm sure) within hearing distance when you were ranting it. You can be such a child. I know you ARE a child, but it is hard to remember that, sometimes, when you give your reports and even I can barely keep up with the (invariably correct) leaps of logic that led you to your conclusions. When the intelligence units report of the rumors of what you've done: several tons of coal turned to gold and then back to coal again, an entire ruined building rebuilt in a matter of moments. Every time one of your sulks or tantrums leaves me thinking you have nothing inside that thick skull of yours except a child's simplistic view of the world, you return from a mission you breezed through with a clever and invariably devilish solution, rather than one of brute force. Sometimes, I can tell from the slide of your eyes and the slight shuffle of your feet, it was a close thing, the choice between the two, but you seem to have a fondness for the elegant, devious plan, for setting your enemies upon each other, or having them betray themselves. You hide it well behind your bluster and your sulks, but the workings of your mind are at once cunningly devious and ruthlessly simple. Not the bludgeon that some fools might predict, but a heavy blade, capable of a clean slice as much as a crushing blow.

But, it is hard to remember that when you are in pain. Your mind may be that of a master strategist, but for all your skill, your emotions are still those of a young boy, prone to fits of black-and-white, and all too easily shattered by the harsh realities of the world around you. Despite all you've been through, death and the pain of those you care about cuts you open like a surgeon's scalpel, the mask peeled away to reveal the frightened boy beneath.

If I am cold, Edward, it is because it is my only defense against the pain you bring on yourself. If I speak harshly, if I seem uncaring, if I push you mercilessly, it is only because I cannot do what I truly wish to do. I cannot tell you that everything will be all right, because likely it won't. I can't lift your face in my hands and wipe your tears away. And I absolutely cannot pull you into my arms, cannot weep with you for the injustices I feel just as clearly as you. I cannot let your pain into my heart, lest it break down the walls I have carefully constructed and free my own demons. I imprisoned them long ago, along with my innocence and my pride. I can only hope that one day you will learn to do the same, before it drives you mad.

There are days that I hate myself for bringing you here. That I hate myself for delivering you to those who would use you to kill. Not yet, and perhaps, just perhaps, not ever, but maybe someday. Have you thought of that? Thought of what you would do if you were ordered to do what I and the others did in Ishbal? To kill and kill and kill again, until something breaks inside you and you can no longer hear the screams?

Would you be surprised to know that it makes me work all the harder? The idea that if I gain my goal quickly enough, I can be the one giving the orders? The one who will shake his head at the very suggestion, who can say, "No. It is not needed." The one who can save yours, and how many others', souls by giving the order that would have saved mine?

You've never guessed, have you? Good. If it will keep you from the truth, I will be the cold bastard, the heartless hard-ass, the hated one that pushes you further when you falter and derides you when you fall apart. I know, oh so well, Edward, how hate can make one stronger. And if I can make you strong enough...perhaps I can save both of our souls.