Unravel The Spider’s Web.
“Days go by like the wind
And this life is too short
It makes no sense to give in
To release you from my thoughts.”
There was a strange silence in the air, buzzing so loudly it was completely void of emotion. It permeated the house, the town, the children, the townsfolk; the very rocks over which the young blonde found himself standing. Izumi Curtis had been a constant in Dublith. Even when the town slowly grew and tried to fit itself as a city, everyone knew or at least had heard about her. About her characteristically acid kindness to everyone, her strict delight in children. Everyone knew of the woman with the dreadlock hair and the sharp eyes; the wife of the strongest man in Dublith, the Alchemist in disgrace.
Alphonse stood in front of the new grave, feeling something inside him wail against the oppressing quiet that seemed to weight down his lungs with every breath he took. The boy watched the white stone, trailing his eyes over the simple lines, carved out into a flower he had never seen before, another ghost he would never really understand. He saw the copious amount of bouquets arranged carefully around the tomb, a testament to the love friends had for their childless mother.
He thought he should cry, give a visible proof of the despair pooling under the knot in his throat, but he couldn’t. He didn’t have any tears left to cry.
He had cried when he was told his brother was gone. He had cried when he understood Edward was not coming back. He had cried bitterly when the memories he had been denied for so long finally came over him, crushing him under the knowledge of a hundred lifetimes buried within a suit of armor. He had cried when he realized that when they gave him that pretty silver watch, when they smiled at him and praised him for his genius… they were looking at Edward in him. Not Alphonse. Never Alphonse.
The wind blew over his hair, ruffling it with the same tenderness of a lover caress and Alphonse shivered. His hair was long, though loose and not braided. His clothes were dark and comfortable, though constricting under the weight of memories. His coat was red and worn, though the Flamel carefully sewed on the back was a constant burn over his skin, raw and tender and atemporal. He wondered for a moment if the woman he was supposed to be mourning ever saw him as himself; if she confused him with the ghost or if she could see him sobbing to himself under the profile of the brother long gone.
The drawl came from behind him, lazy, serpent like. A tiny whisper of shattered time that froze his blood and snapped him back into the metal cage he still dreamt about some nights. Whirling around, he saw the spiderweb first. The thin lines that hung perfectly from ageless stone, decorating a nameless monument with the delicate trace of spun silver. But beyond it, hiding in the shadows behind the strangely iridescent threads, two eerily bright eyes fixed on him smugly. Alphonse lost his breath somewhere along the lines of that face, as the mocking amethyst pinned him down as a butterfly, slowly crushing his fluttering wings with ease.
Wrath smiled, unlike anything else Alphonse could remember, because it was so full; of deceit, of hatred, of longing, of sadness. It was Loneliness made lips in that hollow face, framed by dark hair and high lightened by waxen skin. The rundown automail was still there, melted in some places, but glinting temptingly under the last rays of the day.
Snapping out of his contemplations when the monster came forward, the blonde tensed visibly, prepared to attack at the smallest provocation. As Wrath slithered – dark, velvety snake; terribly poisonous and yet so… so… - to him, the delicate cobweb caught on his shoulder. Silver against pale skin, silver against black cloth.
“Alphonse Elric,” The Sin whispered again, rolling the syllables over his tongue as if it were a delicacy, eyes bright as he closed up against his prey, his master, his owner, his enemy...
The broken creature whispered his name. His and not his brother’s, causing shivers to race up and down his spine as he died a little in each sound. The smile got smaller, more humane, more pained. Alphonse wondered if Homunculi could miss their loved ones, then remembered Homunculi had no loved ones.
Wrath slowly came to him and Alphonse felt the irrational need to run. Run away from the monster with the child-like façade. Run away from the memories of betrayal served in sweetened words. Run away from the insufferable certainty that he really didn’t want to run away at all. It was the start of a storm, a light gust that would grow into a tempestuous hurricane. And he was standing here, immobile, staring into inhuman eyes and contemplating the very ports those traitorous winds blew from.
When the cold hand wound on his hair, when the dreadful scent of Death filled up his nostrils, when he tasted the ashen lips with his own… Alphonse decided he didn’t care. Wrath whined, curling around him, trying to steal the warmth, desperately trying to shove the emptiness aside. Alchemist and Homunculus swore off themselves into that kiss, into the whisper of wrong that screamed at them to stop, the whisper of a raising moon hiding their shared sins under its pale light.
At dusk, in the isolated silence of the graveyard, Alphonse Elric sold his soul to a monster, over a whisper and a spider’s web.
“If I smile and don't believe
Soon I know I'll wake from this dream
Don't try to fix me I'm not broken
Hello I'm the lie living for you so you can hide.”
Alphonse found it terribly amusing that his new found shadow would be so easy to conceal. He had never known he could be such a convincing actor, such a great liar. He could stand in front of Mustang’s desk, with his back straight, his jaw set, his eyes fixed firmly on the black ones and he could tell his story without flinching, no matter how slight or how terrible the variations he made were. After every mission completed effortlessly, every achievement reached easily, every disaster contained efficiently… the scene would always the same. He would talk, and Mustang would believe him, because of course, of course, little, lovely Alphonse Elric could do no wrong.
He lied, because they wouldn’t understand.
Wrath never believed his lies. He could always see right through him. When the Homunculus caught him lying, he would sneer and stab him repeatedly with memories of who he was. If Alphonse braided his hair on a whim, Wrath would come and undo it, running his fingers over the long strands in a mockery of concern that always made the blonde hold back a few tears. If Alphonse stared a bit longer than necessary at the joints of the automail, Wrath would come and shove it against his face, forcing his cold – cold, undead, terrible, sinful – body all over the quivering Alchemist with a cruel demand of release.
He lied, because only the inhuman eyes told him the truth anymore.
Alphonse always knew when Wrath lied. He could always tell when the monster was trying to escape reality. When the young Alchemist caught him lying, he would cage and trap him into the small confines of his inexistence. If Wrath grew distracted and started doodling Flamels all over the small apartment, Alphonse would go and scratch them, blurring the clear lines with the endless patience of a saint, crushing the forged memories until the Homunculus had to flee or submit himself like a willing sacrifice. If Wrath plucked the petals off those strange blue flowers he seemed to get out of nowhere, Alphonse would come and touch him with the velvety – velvety, lost, tender, unwanted – shred leaves until he couldn’t deny the fact he craved the touch of something warm.
He lied, because he was alive.
Every time Alphonse found a cobweb in a corner, he remembered the graveyard and the silence, the loneliness and the kiss. It was the blind leading the blind, lying their way through life, bumping constantly with the sharp corners of Truth they wanted nothing to do with. Every time Wrath found a spider web in a corner, he remembered the weakness and the need, the submission and the desire.
They lied… because they could.
“I’m gunning down romance
It never did a thing for me
But heartache and misery
Ain’t nothing but a tragedy
Love don’t leave me
Take these broken wings
I’m going to take these broken wings
And learn to fly
And learn to fly away.”
Sometimes, he wondered if he had gone insane. It was a very rational explanation for a very irrational situation, and Alphonse thought it would be oddly accurate. It could certainly explain his strange need to tame the wild purple hair – so dark, at first he had always thought it was black, pooling like midnight over the white linens of his bed – or his insatiable craving for the taste of cheated death, sweet and putrid all over his tongue.
After all, wasn’t everyone always telling him he was insane for having followed his brother’s footsteps?
Yes, Alphonse decided as he watched Wrath arch onto him, insanity was a nice tag to put to his condition. It had a lovely ring to it, one that made him groan as he gave another thrust into that entirely too tempting cold, feeling the body underneath clench in desperation. Wrath made the most beautiful noises when Alphonse was lodged deep within him, fulfilling his need to be submitted. Wrath looked up at him through unfocused eyes, lips parted in invitation. It was a strangely arousing sensation, the corpse-like rawness of such a responsive body that always wanted more. More speed, more force, more violence, more Alphonse.
He was a Sin. A horrible, terrible, shameful monster that Alphonse should have been killing, rather than fucking, but he was his Sin. His, and no one else’s. No one else was allowed to touch the monster that came from beyond the Gate. No one else was allowed to listen to those pleading gasps that promised the world and more for a little taste of ecstasy. Thrown carelessly over his bed; a broken rag doll to be done with as he pleased; with that strangely smooth hair that drew a somber halo around the most wicked need of them all… gleaming under the sickly yellow light of an old lamp, Wrath was his, solely his.
It was always too much and never nearly enough, but for those precious moments, in the dawn of an earth shattering climax, he could ignore the sting of his fractured dreams and pretend he too was hanging from a spider’s thread, hovering above the desolated reality they often ignored together.
They were fragments of greater things, incomplete failures that were simply unfit to succeed. They were Sin and Sinner, but for Alphonse, whose only desire was to own himself, that was all that mattered.
“Se que no siempre tengo la razón
Pero no he olvidado hacia donde voy
Ya no siento algún temor
Porque nunca olvido hacia donde voy.”
Alphonse liked walking through the graveyards.
It sounded morbid and he generally got more than a few risen eyebrows whenever the topic came up, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed. He liked the respectful silence that fell over the graves, the sinuous paths that held a thousand stories behind the polished stones. It was cathartic, to stand amidst the land of death and let their forgotten cries inspire him when he needed to solve a riddle.
He seemed to be solving too many riddles of the late.
As a field agent and with the war brewing on all four corners, he was expected to be everywhere at once. He was, after all, Alphonse Elric, the notorious younger brother to the Alchemist of Legend, the shadow of the Fullmetal. Most of the time, he liked fitting into the stereotype, being the incredible genius who had nearly all the answers, the untouchable figure always three steps ahead. On the quiet afternoons after a mission, though, or when he was frustrated by a particularly trying case, it was nice to be reminded who he was. The reminders, of course, weren’t always nice on their own, but it was usually the deliverer that made Alphonse realize he had a purpose after all.
Walking the paths of worn grass in a graveyard, however, he was stripped of his title, his fame and recognition. He was just a young man with a lot on his mind and not nearly enough time to be done with it. He could feel the shadow blanketing him, mimicking each step in a testing symphony of discordant notes that somehow managed a precarious harmony time and time again.
That day, the reminder had been particularly nasty, as it had been for both, something that had never happened before. Alphonse tended to forget who he was, but Wrath was always there to remind him of what he was. But they, it seemed, had forgotten that only one of them was immortal, truly untouchable. And as it turned out, the strongest was the most vulnerable in the end. Alphonse sighed – hoped, wished, longed, thought – and kicked a small pebble, watching it bounce down the path until it got lost among the yellowish grass.
“There’s a spider on your shoulder,” He said jovially, looking up at Wrath with a mild smile.
The Homunculus thought the blonde looked far too calm for someone who had almost been killed twice the same day.
“Yeah?” Purple eyes glinted like jewels in the late afternoon sun, “Well, there’s cobwebs on your brain, but I don’t complain.”
Alphonse laughed and Wrath found himself enraptured by the sudden sound. It was a pretty laugh, he guessed, very rich, very… human. It was the type of sound that told each Elric apart, and Wrath could tell, because he had known them both. Edward’s laughter had always been harsh, bordering on cynical. Alphonse could never laugh and not be truly happy whilst he did.
Sometimes, Wrath wanted to forget: the laughter, the smiles, the kisses, the hands, the eyes… He wanted to forget, sometimes, when he didn’t know where they were going anymore. But then, when he did remember, he was thankful he couldn’t forget at all.
“And the figure inside could bear anybody's name
The memories I keep are from a time like then
I put on my paper so I could come back to them
Someday I'm hopin’ to close my eyes and pretend
That this crumpled up paper can be perfect again.”
Weddings were a loud affair in Rizembul. There was incessant chatter left and right, bright decorations and pleasant smiles everywhere. There was also a consistent lack of shadows, as if the whole town conspired against Night and her children, annihilating every dark corner with bright lights and painful shows of fireworks. It was a time for celebration, for cheer and good will, and Alphonse found himself drowning in the need to flee.
He couldn’t of course, because that wouldn’t be polite, and he owed Winry. He owed her for the loneliness after he went away, for the scarce letters in the past few years, for the icy heartbreak of saying no to the offering of this day. He owed her the show of being well and happy and there, because otherwise she would not walk down the aisle and recite empty vows to a man whose name Alphonse couldn’t really remember.
Wrath was not there, anywhere, and Alphonse resented him for it. Resented his lack of obligation with anything, his ability to abscond himself from the perpetual call of humanity. He walked through the streets, taken by a carnival-like fever that seemed to contain the mighty war cries echoing just outside their door. Alphonse was known and loved by all, and he found it inconveniently tiring to spend all his time dodging inquiries about his life – not that he had much of a life, at least not the kind those people would like to hear about.
Wandering around the living party, however, he ran across a small alley, abandoned and untouched by the glee that was palpable in the air all round town. Inside, he saw the cowering shapes of those who were forsaken from the merriment. Sickly thin children, pale and bony, destined to wither away to nothing under the hard gaze of a society that cared none for them. One of them wore black rags that made Alphonse long for his secluded corner of deceit back in Central, but the dirty creature before him had human eyes; green, weakened, broken human eyes.
When he leaned against the sodden walls, hands wound into raspy hair that had too many crusts of dirt in it, Alphonse looked up at the sky, framed by the buildings housing him and his poor substitute for sin. There were cobwebs in the corners, not silver, like in the graveyard of hopes back home, but grey, dull and fake. He arched to inexperienced hands that were too warm to be truly arousing, and closed his eyes, remembering a particular smile that would fit the moment so perfectly. Nothing was more beautiful than that smile. So transparent, he could see the hatred lurking behind; so entirely sordid, he couldn’t ignore the lust stirring in his bones. The smile Wrath had given him in the graveyard, overflowing with so much and offering so little. The smile Wrath gave him, when he was just hands and lips and tongue and wanting.
Alphonse’s soft gasps got lost in the riot of sound from the rejoicing city, and the name that passed his lips was ignored by the world at large.
He had pretended to be honored by walking Winry down the aisle, by being given the bright red ribbon that entitled him as godfather for the firstborn child. He had pretended to be hesitant to pay the little outcast kneeling before him, when his blood was already boiling.
Alphonse fixed his vacant eyes on the spider’s web right above his head, and decided he could keep the pretense for a little longer.
“I want a lover I don't have to love
I want a boy who's so drunk he doesn't talk
And where's the kid with the chemicals?
I got a hunger and I can't seem to get full
I need some meaning I can memorize
The kind I have always seems to slip my mind.”
I love you.
Wrath hated him. Hated his stupid blank stare. Hated his monotonous gestures. Hated the perpetual frown. Hated the empty feeling telling he had somehow managed to kill the butterfly after all. Hated the stupid tears that simply wouldn’t come, because his eyes were just too dry to cry them. Hated the condescending tone that slowly killed him again – again, again, again, again – when he tried to steal a kiss and make things playful.
I love you.
He should have kept his mouth shut. He always fucked up things, Dante had said so, Envy, even Sloth, on occasion, told him his mouth would get him killed. Wrath wanted to grin at that. Not killed – too late for that – but certainly numb. He shouldn’t have said anything. Everything was fine before. Not perfect, but he was broken and Alphonse shattered, so there couldn’t be that much perfection among them. But it had been nice, before.
I love you.
Why was he defective? He had been defective that sliver of time he had been alive and he was defective now. A big, defective Homunculus that was too human to be truly immortal and too unnatural to be truly human. Wrath sneered at the mirror hanging listlessly from the bathroom wall. He had aged, gotten older and stronger, but not a bit wiser. Alphonse had aged, too, beautifully at that, but he was still in pieces, and Wrath didn’t know how to put the puzzle back together so he could get his smile in return.
I love you.
Could something soulless love? Truly love? Wrath was starting to doubt it. One protected the ones one loved, right? Love was supposed to make sure people were happy and sheltered and safe. But all he did was hurt Alphonse. Hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt. Everything he did, everything he said, it was just salt into the wound. When he touched him, he didn’t flinch – Alphonse was too kind to him to actually flinch away from him – but his eyes grew distant, glassy.
I love you.
The nights were the most ironic, when the corpse fucked the living, and the living seemed the corpse and the corpse didn’t know and couldn’t know and it was all so, so terribly wrong. Alphonse was the one that was supposed to dominate him. He was supposed to be strong and powerful and his, not sit back and take it like a lamb to slaughter. Alphonse was the one who took his mind away from stupid Flamels that did no good, not go around searching for cobwebs in every corner.
I love you.
Wrath hated himself the most, though. Hated himself when he started to feel eager for the next assignment, hoping the words would be lost in their memories by the time Alphonse came back. But to no avail, and Wrath knew it and hated himself when he finally admitted he had destroyed the only thing he truly cherished anymore. Late at night, after Alphonse was asleep and tired and dying, Wrath realized the only adventure left was finding themselves. Find the last shade of individuals lost into the sea of cacophonic lies they had wrapped so tightly around them they were killing each other without knowing.
I love you.
“I’ll make you love me,” The whisper, even smaller than the first he uttered, years before, got lost under the regular breathing and unwelcome innocence that made Wrath curl tightly around himself.
Staring blankly at the corners, still looking for that perfect pattern of spun silver, Alphonse shivered and tried to remember what color his own eyes were.
“Hay amores que lloran su dicha
Hay amores que niegan su nacimiento
Pero hay uno que es letal
Y es el tuyo
Hay amores que matan
Hay amor el tuyo mata
Hay amores que matan
Pero el mío no resucita.”
Homunculus were not supposed to get drunk. Wrath was starting to think they couldn’t get drunk. Nevertheless, he kept drinking and drinking and drinking, until the liquid tasted like nothing and he lost count of the bottles thrown carelessly around him. He muttered nonsense under his breath, words slurred as he grinned something between wicked and blessed, eyes fixing tiredly on Alphonse’s pensive ones. He raised another bottle, laughing quietly and grinning madly, toasting to the unknown. Alphonse thought that grin was more fitting for something crude like Envy than for Wrath. Lonely, sad, whimpering Wrath. The Homunculus muttered a song to the depths of his sorrows, tongue tainted with enough alcohol to be raw.
Alphonse accepted the kiss graciously, even though it was sloppy and the stench of digested scotch made him fight his stomach’s urge to wrench terribly. The whole place reeked of something rotten, but then again, the ruins of Xerxes had never been a cheerful place. The blonde Alchemist wanted nothing more than grab his temporally insane – wasn’t Wrath insane all the time? – companion and make his way back to his apartment, where hopefully no one would see them and he could exorcise the strange notion out of the Sin’s mind.
He had no need for iridescent threads set into a trap to catch the weakened butterfly. He was standing, despite it all, he was standing. He didn’t need someone else to love to sink him back into the depths of past mistakes. Love hadn’t done anything good for him, ever. It had taken his mother away. It had sent his brother away. It had broken a creature that was supposed to be perfect.
“I’m gonna make you free,” Wrath laughed hysterically, letting him go and stumbling over to the side.
Alphonse wasn’t expecting the light, or the array, or Gluttony – he thought that was Gluttony, but he couldn’t really be sure. He hadn’t expected the cold that settled into his bones as the Gate was summoned. The hated Gate, the one thing Wrath had never really gotten over with. The very same Gate he was walking to.
I’ll make you love me.
Alphonse had a second, perhaps less, to realize what was going on before the saw the small, clawed hands reaching out for him. He didn’t react, too engrossed by the screech as the Homunculi offered were destroyed, taken, consumed. The tunnel and the hands and the wish and all he could think about was that stupid tune and the wrenched image of a cobweb behind his eyelids and those stupid, stupid words he should have said.
Wrath ceased to exist.
I love you too.
Alphonse crossed the threshold, and promised himself he wouldn’t cry.
“Tears to be hold, truth to be told, in the unraveling threads of the spider’s web.”