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Fic: Circuit Theory

Title: Circuit Theory
Setting: Mangaverse as ever, spoilers for the Ishbal flashback arc, Ch. 57-61, and for Brotherhood ep 22.
Word Count: 723 words
Rating: PG13 for a wee bit of blood
Characters: Scar and his unnamed brother
Summary: He only wished that they could have had the time to reason together about it.
Notes: Ah, where would fma_fic_contest entries be without Ishbal flashbackery? I tied for third place for this one, joint with cornerofmadness's excellent Havoc fic Aftermath. Here are the winners, and here are all nine of this week's entries. They were all awesome. And here is my boasty banner by sky_dark , with a lovely pic of proto-Scar and his lovely brother. Aww.






***


The chi flows in its circuits through the body, just as blood pulses through the veins. The Ishbalans call it ama, God's breath within you. But they don't know that it's the same thing.

The warrior priests are taught to call ama within themselves, to rise up through pain and seek out their reasoning mind beyond it. The discipline takes a long time to learn. He had seen his brother run on a broken leg, seen him fight when he should be doubled over with agony. He was always curious to learn that discipline, to search through it and come to understand how it worked. Now, he wished he had. But there hadn't been time.

He sat on the dusty ground by his brother's side, and watched his brother's life pulse out of the wet ruin of his shoulder, into the earth. He couldn't rise. In his own side, there was a smashed hollow as wide as a man's fist. A moment ago, it had held a jagged piece of shrapnel. The moment before that it had held the organs that sustained his life, a system neat and whole, circulating energy. Wrecked in a second, by a single, ignorant idiot who thought that the purpose of alchemy was to rain destruction upon the world.

Three thoughts resonated in his mind, again and again: the pain, the alchemy and his brother. His brother was dying - but his discoveries could save him, and his brother in turn could save his discoveries - but the pain pushed the formulae back into the depths of his mind. To find the formulae he needed to climb through the pain. His brother, who knew the flow of chi within his own body but didn't know that he knew it, his brother who could run and fight on a broken leg, could have done this. He himself could not.

His little brother had always been stronger and faster than he was. When they had been young, they would sometimes hunt rabbits together, with a net. He had been terrible at it, of course, but his brother had been skilled. He remembered how fast the creature moves, how you must hold yourself completely still, until you have it - then quick as you can, jerk the net closed.

Perhaps, just as his brother had learnt chi but did not know it, he himself had learnt something without realising it.

He held himself still. For a heartbeat, two, three. A pang of animal fear formed; he let it float to the surface and harmlessly pop. Again. One, two, three. And now, in a clear, perfect circle, the formula floated in his mind.

The moment he had it, he moved.

And as soon as he had thought the thing, it was done. Everything else he needed was written upon his skin - and then, in the work of a moment, it was written upon his brother's. His brother's blood pulsed under the lines and circles that contained everything he had learnt. His brother's chi flowed again in a clean circuit.

He would have liked a little more time, to consider his own death. More than that, the new knowledge on his brother's body would be so difficult to bear for him. He disapproved of this work; it was an long, fruitful argument between them, about their different understandings of the world, one which they would now never have time to finish. His brother understood the breath of God, but he did not yet understand that alchemy flowed through creation the way God flowed through it, the way ama flowed through the body and soul. He only wished that they could have had the time to reason together about this decision he had made for both of them. Even just a moment to try and explain, to hand him this burden properly, to ask for a promise. But his brother, with his love of justice, of family, of ama, God within people: he was a promise in himself.

Now he lay in the dust by his brother's side, and his life rapidly pulsed out of him and into the earth. Next to him, he saw his brother breathing evenly and deeply, strong and whole again, ready to take his gifts to the world.

They were brothers. It was as good as a promise.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
dreamer1789
Sep. 15th, 2009 08:44 am (UTC)
Wow, this is good, I can see why it placed. XD Congrats!
bob_fish
Sep. 15th, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
Thanks!
cornerofmadness
Sep. 15th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
this was my absolute favorite out of the bunch. congrats on winning.
bob_fish
Sep. 15th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! And given you're a medical type, thanks for forgiving Scar's brother's total failure to go into hypovolemic shock until two lines before the end ... uh, let's just say this all happens a lot faster than it does in his head?
cornerofmadness
Sep. 15th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
yes well since it's canon and I assume it happened in a flash, it's okay by me (certainly better than first anime Scar roaming around with no arms...)
bob_fish
Sep. 15th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
Hahahahah yeah and you forgot he then gets shot fifteen times in the chest, holds a coherent conversation and goes for a bit of a walk.
cornerofmadness
Sep. 15th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
you're right I did. Silly me. Got about half way thru ch 2 of your mystery story (the title is alluding me) then I realized it was 2 AM and I actually had to get up in a few hours...)
bob_fish
Sep. 15th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
Sorry I made you lose sleep but hope you're enjoying the fic! Chapter Three is drafted and going up soon.
cornerofmadness
Sep. 15th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
it's very easy for me to get lost in reading and forget things like food and sleep. And cool
firiel44
Sep. 17th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
This was really lovely. Nicely done. :)
bob_fish
Sep. 17th, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
Thanks! Nice Ten/library icon, very appropriate.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )