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These two characters continue to haunt me! I don't feel positive yet about this ficlet/shortfic to post it on AO3, so for now I'm posting it on Dreamwidth and Tumblr and hope for feedback. Constructive criticism very happily accepted, from title choice to spelling nitpicks to anything else!

EDIT: I have now changed the title and expanded the fic somewhat. Thanks for the feedback, koraki!

Title: Temptation of Clarity
Word Count (as I post this, may change): 639
Characters: Scar, Marcoh
Spoilers, setting: Chapter 14, page 167. A short character snapshot from a brief but intense moment in canon.


"Scar... I see divinity in you..."

The one they called Scar looked down at the State Alchemist sitting on the ground before him, head bowed. He fought to hold himself still. This was blasphemy, not that you could expect better from an Amestrian, a State Alchemist, a self-confessed war criminal who now expected Scar to do his dirty work for him. And. And yet. Did this man, this enemy see something true after all for all his self-serving wishfulness?

He had been entirely sure that his God was with him. He didn't deserve that, but it was the only thing he had left, and the road he had taken was the only one possible. He was a tool of God, a weapon sent out on a mission for vengeance, one that would take him out too before long, but he couldn't complain. His certainty had fit around him like a second skin as he stalked, killed, and escaped. It had made him invisible, invincible.

And then, bit by bit, almost inexorably after it had started to happen, that certainty had started to fill up with cracks, had stopped protecting him; he’d been seen, recognised, confronted, wounded. There'd been the Rockbell girl. Then his master, the abominations called Homunculi, the Xingese girl... these things didn't fit into his mission, the road he'd seen before him, and the only certainty he knew now was about what he couldn't do (forget, forgive, co-operate), and no longer what he could do, what his God intended for him.

Until he had stumbled into the very stronghold of those strange Homunculi for a very unlikely reason, where he’d attacked the one that was clearly their leader only to find that Scar’s own power of destruction didn't work on him at all, and whose counterattack had been unimaginably strong, leaving Scar winded and bleeding as he’d had to retreat.

"It was these bastards who caused the civil war! They wanted it to happen!"

"Of course I'd love to give you a beating right now!! But at the moment, saving this girl's life is more important!" The Elric brothers, too, had never truly fit.

And he knew, suddenly: if he listened to this man before him (who was wrong and yet perhaps right) and obliterated him right now, on the spot, he would find that mantle of absolute certainty again. It would take him back and remove the doubts that were slowing him down. A thin road, a very narrow road, and one that would end soon in darkness - but the path would be straight, even, and sure for as long as it lasted. And he'd walk it alone. There was a comfort in that thought.

Wasn't that certainty worth more than finding out the truth about the war? This one might not even know all that much about it. He hesitated...

"Kill me!" Marcoh burst out. "Right here and now! I will atone for my sins with death!"

Rage came white and instant. Oh, you will, will you? Did you just decide that would suffice? The war came back to him, images so sharp and clear he hardly could see the dungeon around them. Marcoh had just said he'd caused the deaths of "countless" Ishvalans. Who the hell was he to declare those could be atoned for so easily?

And the window that had seemed to be there, the way back to the old clear path – that flickered, and vanished now, and there was only rage and the need for truth. Justice, yes. Vengeance, yes. But not so easily!

He grabbed the State Alchemist, his right hand pressing down on his face, but not using his power just yet. Truth first, vengeance later. Only somewhere deep in the back of his head did a part of him wonder if he wasn't going to regret this.

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