Two things were constant in his life: His brother and blood. To say he craved both would be an understatement. He'd be LOST without them. They were the focal points his life revolved around; they were his universe, the point of his existence. Both pleasure and promise. Love.
It was only appropriate that Niisan was the head and he the body. That was the way they'd been in life. His Niisan plotted, and he acted. Niisan was the brains, and he the brawn. It worked. They made a marvelous team, hunting, finding, killing in an almost unstoppable manner. Almost but not quite. They had slipped up once. Had lost their bodies, their names, everything but their shrunken deformed souls. Those had been caught and melded with metal. Pleasures of the flesh forever lost, individuality removed, now they were merely numbers, 48 and 49.
But that didn't matter, because, now that they were condemned to this unlife, they were even closer together. And prey still came. Yes it did. And they still were rewarded with blood.
Such pretty prey this time. Very, very pretty. 48 thought so, too. A boy, though his looks were so fine and tender, he might as well be a girl. Soft, pale skin, and golden hair turned just a bit grey with dust. Lovely. Ours for the ripping.
And look how he draws himself up, a tiny cat, trying to make itself big to frighten off the dogs. How amusing. How charming. Delicious.
Make him dance, little brother.
49 advanced on the child, bringing the sword around to slice through that overcoat and turn it an even more vivid red. The boy leapt.
Ah—the prey was lively. Very lively. That was good. It would mean the carving would taste even better. 49 felt a thrill of pleasure, anticipating the way the pressure would feel when his sword met flesh, and the wonderful jarring shudder made when the edge caught bone.
Would this prey cry? He hoped it would. He hoped it would run and beg a bit. Then they could pin it down and cut slowly, take the boy to pieces in layers. Clothes first, then skin, muscle and finally as the pathetic morsel coughed out its final breaths, they'd pry out the heart and spear it on the end of the blade.
Or they could go the other direction. They did that some time.
48 distracted the prey, telling it about their history, but not letting on that there were two of them. It would be good to see fear on the prey's face, but not so good to let him in on their little secret too soon. Surprises were only fun if they remained surprises.
49 circled and toyed. Testing the prey's defenses. They were good. The prey leaped out of the way, clapping its hands together, and suddenly its automail had transformed into a blade.
Well, this was a lovely turn of events. An alchemist—and to be able to do a transformation without a circle, a very powerful one indeed. On par with the ones that had turned he and his brother into this armor shell.
48 was excited. It would be like the revenge they had never gotten. Do him slowly, 48 suggested. Do him slow and sweet for me. Don't let him die too quickly. Make him feel it.
49 felt a pang of regret. Some things were not possible in armor form. He missed the days when he could taste his victim's flesh. When they would find and capture and bind a sweet young man or woman, and cut small slices off, here and there. A nipple, a lip, a soft pinch of flesh from a buttock, and then eat it. Sometimes raw, occasionally cooked. Sometimes they'd even force the victim to eat his own flesh and that was nice as well.
But not this victim. This one fought too hard.
Niisan, he squirms so, I can't land a blow!
Patience, my love, look how he wears. He breathes hard for us now, he will tire soon. He will make mistakes.
49 would never tire. He could fight day and night. And his arm never lost skill. And that pathetic excuse for a blade the creature had conjured could hardly scratch his armor. Minute by minute the balance of power tipped in his favor.
48 was right. The boy was panting, he wouldn't be able to keep it up much longer.
Sure enough the first landed hard on a shoulder, but instead of sinking satisfyingly into the flesh, it bounced off the armor.
The boy smiled, and pressed forward, full of misplaced confidence. 49 parried his blow. There was something, just a bit odd about the way the little blade felt. The boy sensed it too, and his fierce grin faded.
Ah and there it was, the beginning of the end of the fight. Soon the prey would be kneeling, begging for mercy. Soon the prey would shudder as touch of cold steel caressed his skin, and the first love nicks decorated his naked thighs.
49 paid little attention to the words 48 exchanged with the prey. He let his niisan do his job, lulling and distracting the boy, playing on his emotions. Teasing him, tempting him to lose his composure. 49 had his own work.
Soon—just one more blow—
"Al!" cried the prey, looking over the Slicer brother's shoulder.
No! Not now! 49 and 48 turned with one accord towards the door to see the new distraction.
The cut took both brothers by surprise.
One second they were TOGETHER. Sharing thoughts, emotions, drive and will. The next moment there was a horrifying emptiness, and Niisan was simply GONE. 49 fell over from the sheer keening absence.
No, there he was on the floor. Intact but vulnerable, nothing left but a voice. Oh how the boy gloated.
But the prey was vulnerable as well. Quietly 49 lifted himself off the floor and approached. The prey didn't even look in his direction. 49 drew back and SLICED—
It felt good. Sweet. The sword bit deeply into the boys flesh. Too deep perhaps. There would be no lingering death. He would die soon, and quickly. But there was blood aplenty and that almost made up for the loss.
The prey should stop fighting soon.
But he didn't. He WAS STILL FIGHTING. Couldn't prey sense when it lost? It wasn't fair.
49 fumbled for words, it had had no need to speak for so long, they came slow. Still he couldn't help but taunt the child, showing off the blood seal, DARING the creature to attack.
Yes, the prey was slower now. Weaker, soon, soon. Maybe this would not be the long slow paring they had hoped for, but they would get to cut him. And he would feel it, for a few minutes at least.
49 closed in, backing the boy against the wall.
Then the prey cheated.
Alchemy. Metal disintegrated and 49 felt his existence breaking down. For the first time the thought came that he might actually die. The prey might win. Impossible. And yet—
49 couldn't move. Without movement, he could not be brawn. Without movement there would be no more blood. Without blood and without brother, there was no point in existing.
The prey—no he couldn't call him prey anymore—the alchemist talked about morals and ethics. Talked about life and death. Talked about many things that made no sense at all. Was it innocence, or maybe merely goodness that made him call them people?
For a moment, though 49 had hope. Perhaps there was a way to piece themselves together again. Perhaps there was a future to cling to. But it wasn't to be.
The dark angels came, as if on cue, disdain in their eyes. A killer is only a killer if he can kill. And so perhaps it was fitting that the last thing 49 did was beg, beg the way so many of his prey had done.
It did him just as little good.