Author's Note: My first time writing a FMA fic (my newest animé obsession)! There's so much that I want to do so that I can express how much I love this animé, and yet I don't have the time to! I figured writing a oneshot would be the quickest/easiest thing I could do, so here we are! Scar, Al, and Hughes are my top three favorite characters in the entire series! Ultimately, I chose Scar because he's a badass serial killer with a heart of gold! (lol, how does that work out?)
Disclaimer: Don't own Full-Metal Alchemist, and this is pure fiction, therefore, not meant to be taken literally, and was simply made for the enjoyment of everyone (but mostly me! :P)
It was night over the desert village of Ishbal, but that did not mean it was impossible to see. On the contrary, the moon was full and glowing a pearlescent white. One Ishbalan child opened his eyes and peered around, red eyes bright and alert. He had never been asleep; just pretending to until he could sneak out. He quietly moved the blanket off of him and stood up, quietly tiptoeing to the doorway. Now was the tricky part: pulling open the drapes without making a sound. Very slowly and with infinite carefulness, he pulled the fabric to the side as much as he dared, all the while glancing back at the sleeping lump on the floor that was his older brother. He sucked in his stomach and squeezed past the drapes into the hall. He was almost there. All he had left to do now was make it down the hall to the front room and it was a clear shot to the front door. Walking as quickly as he dared, he made it down the hall and the main entrance without incident. The ten-year-old boy's face lit up with excitement at this realization as he slipped on his sandals and pushed the drapes back to leave his home.
When he stepped outside, he was mesmerized by the change that had fallen upon the village, as he was every night that he looked outside at night when the moon was big. It never ceased to amaze him. At day, everything had the same dry, sandy look, except the sky of course, but at night, it was like Ishbala brought that same sky down to the ground and gave the landscape a bluish tinge. As awesome as it was, the youth shook his head, forcing himself out of his trance. He had snuck out for a reason and he didn't want to waste it. With a sense of purpose, he strode through the village streets, taking a path that led him to the outskirts of the village and walked out into the open desert territory. The boy looked around, searching for something... and when he found it, he smiled joyfully. It was a bunch of rocky terraces some ways off, but not too far. His older brother had taken him there a couple times so it couldn't be too dangerous. Besides, the last time he was there, he had thought he had seen something cool and wanted to return to see if he had just been imagining things. The desert heat tends to do that to a person if they're not careful.
With desert-born caution for things like scorpions and snakes, the boy ran across the sand in the direction of the rocky terraces, only slowing down when he was about twenty feet away from them. If there was anything living in or around those rocks, he didn't want to scare them away. This was their home. It would be the same thing if some big stomping thing came thundering towards his village and scared everyone into running away. Everyone except him, that was. He'd fight whatever came to drive him and his family out of their home. It was where they belonged and he would protect it. But he was getting sidetracked. He was on a mission. Red eyes traveled upward at the tall rock structures in awe as he searched for a way to climb up them. That Ishbala could make something impressive out of rock was just... well, impressive. He couldn't really describe it any other way.
Finally deciding on a path, he started clambering up rock face, ignoring the pain in his arms from pulling himself up and the numbness in his fingers from gripping the rock handholds and crevices so tightly. Though it hurt, he knew this would make him stronger and better able to serve his people when he was old enough. He could never do too much to prepare for that day. After several long painful minutes of pure climbing, he managed to pull himself up to the top and he flopped forward, panting heavily from the effort. And to think that this was the easy part. He didn't dare let himself look down as he pulled himself the rest of the way on top of the rock. Only after he was safely on top did he chance a glance down and gulped nervously. It always looked like he was so much farther away from the ground up here than it did down there. And he would have to climb down that, there was no way that he would ever jump that far down. Not unless he wanted to kill himself, which was stupid, of course. Who in their right mind would want to die?
The boy didn't give the idea another moment's thought as he turned away from the edge and started down the slight path that led downwards. Yeah, it seemed silly to have to climb all the way up here just to start going down, but there was no other way to get to the spot he was trying to find. But he had to be careful on this path, not only of stray critters but of loose stones which could send him falling. He was so focused on where he was putting his feet that he nearly missed hearing a playful, high-pitched yip. He stopped completely, listening with every fiber of his being for that sound again. There it was again. His eyes widened as he jumped up onto the rock on his left side towards where the sound was coming from and climbed up it, keeping as silent as possible. He thought he heard some loose pebbles fall, but it wasn't enough to scare the yippers into silence. They were becoming more enthusiastic and frequent.
He peered over the top of this new rock that he had climbed and a supressed gasp escaped his lips before he could stop himself and he mouthed the words "I was right..."
Down below, there enclosed by a protective ring of rocks, were two desert fox kits playing with each other in front of the mouth of their den. He had suspected that foxes lived here; he had seen some small mammal and reptile bones in the area, not within the direct vicinity of the den, but there hadn't been anything home when he had first made his discovery. Now that he thought about it, it was quite possible that the kits has been born after his last venture here. They didn't look too well-coordinated and their fur was still extremely fluffy and soft. He was so enthralled with watching the kits play that he was completely unaware of the movement behind him.
A hand was suddenly clapped over his mouth and he would have been terrified if the voice that spoke near his ear wasn't one he recognized, "Don't shout. You'll scare them."
The hand moved away from his mouth and he turned his head, eyes wide with surprise. "Brother?" he whispered. His sibling smiled and nodded, a couple strands of white hair falling forward with the movement. "But... how did you know? I made sure I was quiet."
His brother continued to smile as he spoke, "And you were quiet. I just wasn't sleeping as heavily tonight as I normally do."
"You won't tell Mother and Father, will you?" he asked worriedly.
The older boy chuckled and reached out with his hand to ruffle his own equally white hair, "Don't worry. I'll keep this little night venture to myself."
Having enough, the younger boy ducked away from his brother's hand, and turned his attention back to the kits. But the two youngsters were no longer playing. The smaller of the two, the younger one, had somehow been cornered by a snake while he was talking to his brother. The bigger one rushed forward and stood between its sibling and the snake. The boy's body shook with terror for the kits. He couldn't watch this! He couldn't watch that snake kill those kits! He made to grab a rock, something to throw at the snake, when his brother's hand grabbed his wrist.
"Let me go!" he snarled.
"No, you can't interfere. This isn't our fight!"
"But they'll die!"
"You don't know that! And if they do, then their essences will be returned to Ishbala and their bodies returned to the earth."
He tried to find something to say to counter it, but he couldn't deny the truth of his brother's words, and a helpless frustration set upon him. They were going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. He saw the snake rear up, fangs poised to strike, but he couldn't bare to see anymore. He shut his eyes and turned away, not wanting to see the dreadful scene play out before him. There was the squelch and the crack of fangs sinking into soft flesh followed by the crack of bones. Wait... there were two voices yapping. That meant that neither of them had died, but how? Did the older one take the initiative and kill the snake before the snake got the chance?
"Go on, little brother. It's okay. Look," his older brother said with a smile and a gesture towards the den.
Curious, the youth opened his eyes and peered down, and what he saw made him gasp with delight. It wasn't simply the fact that the fox kits were alive that made him so delighted, but how they were saved. The kits were bounding around the lanky legs of a full-grown desert fox, their mother no doubt, and in her mouth was the dead snake that, seconds ago, had been about to kill her babies.
"You see? Ishbala wasn't ready for them yet so they were spared."
He could only nod blankly, barely absorbing the words as he continued to stare in awe. No matter how many times he saw Ishbala's work with his own eyes, he was just as amazed as ever. The mother fox lowered her head down to the ground and dropped the now-dead snake on the sandy ground, and to his horror, the kits started eating it! Eating it! The snake that had tried to kill them just seconds ago! Eating it!
His brother chuckled again, moving his hand to his shoulder and giving it a comforting squeeze. "Don't look so surprised. They need to eat to survive and if doing so means eating their would-be killer, then they will. Today the foxes won, but there will be days when the snakes win, but the cycle will always continue as it has. Nothing will ever become out-of-balance. Sometimes in order to get something, we must give up something."
He frowned and gave his brother a sharp, disapproving look. "You're talking about Equivalent Exchange and that sinful alchemy."
The older sibling smiled sadly and shook his head, "No, I'm talking about nature. Forget about alchemy for the moment, open your mind, and I'll explain. Let's use our foxes and snake as examples. As with what happened here, the fox killed the snake and the kits get to eat it. The snake gave its life to not only feed those kits, but also to give them an early first-hand experience of hunting and to help make them stronger and better able to survive to adulthood so that they can pass on their knowledge and expertise to their kits. You understand so far?"
He nodded slowly, "I think so..."
"Good. Now let's pretend that the snake was successful in killing the kits. It would get a full belly and that nourishment would keep the snake healthy and better able to compete against other snakes and survive as well as give their own offspring a good headstart in the world when they hatch. But if it had not killed and eaten those kits, then the snake might not have made it that far. Nature always has a way of balancing itself out. If nothing else, alchemists have at least gotten that correct."
The boy nodded again. His brother's words made sense. But his last sentence... He quirked an eyebrow up at his brother and gave him a suspicious look. "You seem to know quite a bit about alchemy, Brother..."
His response? A smile as he pushed his glasses back up on the bridge of the nose, since they had slid down. He neither confirmed it, nor denied it in words, and in some ways, he found his brother's smile to hold more truth than any words he might have spoken. Then without warning, a yawn pushed past his lips and his eyes felt heavy.
His brother laughed and said, "Well, that's what you get for sneaking out so late. And you still have to climb back down." He had completely forgotten about that. He didn't really feel up to it and his limbs felt so heavy. There was no doubt in his mind that he would lose his grip and fall to his death if he attempted to climb down. Better to wait until morning. "Don't worry, little brother. I'll carry you down on my back. You just have to promise me that you won't let go until we get to the bottom."
"Oh I will! I'll hold on! I promise!" he said excitedly, ecstatic that he wouldn't have to spend the rest of the night on the rock.
"Good. Come on then. Let's go home," he suggested and held his hand outstretched to him. He took it firmly in his own and squeezed it to show his gratitude for his brother's company.
() () () () () () () () () () ()
Scar was startled out of his reminiscing by the little Xingese girl that Yoki had picked up, the only outward sign being the sudden alertness in his eyes and he looked over at her. "What?" he bit out gruffly.
"Are you alright? You were staring at your arm and then you went out of it for a while. Are you sick? Is it because of the wound that I had healed earlier? How long had it been left exposed to the air? Open cuts can give you diseases that make you delirious, you know-"
"Girl," Scar interrupted her harshly mid-rant, and she finally shut-up. Then, figuring that he owed her at least some kind of explanation, he said, "I was thinking of one of my precious memories."
:D HAHA! I did it! I managed to write this entire oneshot without trying to come up with a name for Scar (that's not his real name, just how the Amestrian military identifies him) and his brother (cause if he has one, I don't know it). DAMN IT! I wanna know what Scar's real name is! T_T Anyways, I wanted to write something cute for Scar, but "cute" + "adult Scar" doesn't work out too well, so I set it as a moment in his childhood! :D And I decided that it would be interesting to have Scar learn about the natural way of Equivalent Exchange without it being applied to alchemical purposes. Besides, I think the only problem that the Ishbalans have with alchemy is the creation/recreation aspect which they believe is a power that only God has the right to use. I also decided to be ironic by using foxes to help teach Scar about natural equivalent exchange (because Ed and Al learned about the natural cycle of life and the whole "All is One, One is All" with the help of foxes too).