Genre: Tragedy, angst.
Spoilers: For stuff towards the end of the series, if the pairing is any indication.
Word count: 1567
But the fantasy slipped,
as he tipped her in cigarettes.
She tries to smile very graciously,
when she wants to kill him.
--"My Dark Life" by Brian Eno and Elvis Costello
The crash of wood against wall thundered in Dante's ears as Hohenheim burst through the doorway to his study.
She trailed behind her husband, silent, as near to him as she dared. If she came too close, she was not sure she would be able to refrain from striking him. Her mind was anything but silent as it raged and agonized over the hell that her world had become in the span of mere moments. It was all she could do to force herself to maintain an impassive exterior, even as muscles twitched to sneer, snarl, show some expression of emotion. Even when overrun with frenzied emotions, she was able to uphold her natural inclination to put forth a calm countenance.
Beneath the façade, Dante screamed. Bastard... How can he just leave? Leaving me, just like that. Won't even say anything... She could not repress a shudder as rage and disgust slipped through her mask, colliding in an ugly display of emotion. Still, her smile did not falter, even as her hands itched to reach out, to feel Hohenheim's neck in her grasp, to dig her nails into his flesh.
Not like this. It can't end like this.
Even as denial over Hohenheim's leaving echoed through her thoughts, Dante could not reject the reality of what she had seen only moments ago, when Hohenheim had resurrected their son. Dante had witnessed her share of horrors, but it was too intimate--heartbreaking--to see one's own beloved child brought back from the dead. Writhing innards and twisted bone, accompanied by a stench fit for hell... the sight of such an abomination was repulsive; yet this was her son, and Dante could not help but take the unintelligible howling as a plea for his mother's embrace.
She would have gone to him. She would have fed him all the stones in her possession, if only to give her son some comfort--but then she had seen Hohenheim's face, and she knew in that instant that everything had changed; she felt her heart sink with every step father had taken away from mother and child. As much as she hated leaving her child's side, she had risen and followed Hohenheim. She was too proud, and filled with too much fury for the man she loved; she could not stand for Hohenheim to abandon their family without her eyes on him.
Dante's internal maelstrom paused momentarily as she choked on the thick, putrid odor that had followed the pair and filled the room. Dante noticed that Hohenheim too failed to stifle a gag, but that did little to distract him from his activity.
Dante did not ask what he was doing, or why. She knew. His panic was plain enough to see as he shoved papers and equipment into cases--(running away)--giving no care to anything extraneous that dropped to the floor and shattered. He would not have to clean it up in the morning. No, he would leave that for Dante to tend to. Everything ended up falling to her care, always. Most times anything became damaged in the house--whether as a result of the her own carelessness or Hohenheim's, though it was more frequently his fault than hers --Dante was the one charged with making amends. Never mind that Hohenheim was a perfectly capable alchemist and able to fix most things in short order; no, it was a wife's job to take care of a household. If her husband accidentally dropped the china, she should replace it. If her husband built a toy for their son and it broke, heaven forbid that Hohenheim repair it. Fathers built; mothers mended. Responsibility was, essentially, a foreign concept to Hohenheim.
The man might have skill and ingenuity enough to elude death, but he simply would not see things through. Not his marriage: most nights would pass during which Dante would not so much as see her husband, let alone lay beside him. He seemed to abandon his role as a father as well. Most days, small hands would grasp at Dante’s hem, begging to know when father would return. As years passed, the inquiries lessened and eventually ceased, and were replaced with the brooding of a sullen teenager.
And now, Hohenheim would certainly not accept the responsibility of his attempt at bringing his son back to life. No, he would just fall back to his tenet that fathers were, after all, not meant to mend.
Hohenheim refused accept the consequences of his actions. The man had a gift for evasion, in all respects.
He muttered under his breath--something about how he was foolish, that he was no god. Dante could have informed him of that easily enough. Hohenheim was far from perfect; to think otherwise would have been idealistic and untrue--but she loved him. That was all that had mattered. The belief that Hohenheim would be with her throughout their immortal lifetime had given her immense comfort, a sense of peace. She was capable of persevering on her own, though, as her strength of will was more than sufficient for such... but she had planned to be with Hohenheim forever. 'Til death shall we part, and without that conditional, it would only be the logical conclusion that they never part.
But what was an oath to Hohenheim? For him, was it merely until a change in circumstances, just a matter of convenience for him? Did 'til death mean nothing to him?
Then again, this was until death--the death of their son. Hohenheim's failure to bring him back fully...
"So this is it? This is how it ends?" Dante laughed softly. She traced a finger across the top of her husband's desk, through the dust and grime; a clearly visible line remained in the wake. Hohenheim had never been particularly concerned with the cleanliness of his workspace. He focused on his subject matter and his experiments, not his environment. He would become so immersed in his work that all else seemed to fade from his world, even his family.
"It... wasn't supposed to be this way." He did not look at her. No, he would not look at her. Why? Was he too ashamed of what he'd done; was he afraid to face his lover's judgment? Or... was he too repulsed to look into the face of the mother of that thing, that poor mess that had once been their son?
Dante's thin smile did not waver. "I know. It was supposed to be a perfect transmutation. We were supposed to have our son back. But that didn't happen, and now you're running away... like a coward."
Hohenheim bristled, but said nothing. There was nothing he could have said in response to that honest accusation.
"You're running away," Dante repeated, "and leaving me to take care of your mistake." She refused to make this easy for him. She wanted, needed him to know how much pain he was causing her.
"You don't need to take care of that monstrosity, you know." He scowled as he furtively rearranged the papers in his hands. He could not conceal his agitation. "It would be better off if left to die."
"It?" The smile did not leave her lips, but Dante's eyes became cold and cruel--more so than usual. "It is your son. Our son, who was dead until you restored-"
"Are you blaming me?" Hohenheim spoke sharply yet quietly, his tone like acid. The dangerous question called for no answer; affirmation was evident enough in the issuing of the query. A harsh bark of a laugh escaped from the depths of Hohenheim's throat. "I restored nothing. Our child is dead. That thing is not my son."
That 'thing' is all that's left of your son, you fool...
Dante's fists clenched, thin crescents of nail drawing blood; she felt the low vibrations of a growl churning deep within her throat, but she swallowed her rage. She wanted nothing more than to unleash it upon her infuriating husband, but instead it curdled downward, consuming her heart.
She did not need this. Hohenheim's stupid, stubborn attitude was nothing if not utterly and completely nerve-grating; why should she continue to deal with it?
...Because, as annoying as the man was, Hohenheim was hers. Hers to love, to cherish; hers to be frustrated with, to even be wroth with at times; hers forever.
Forever seemed so much longer only a few short minutes ago...
For several moments, time seemed to slip and shift outside itself; everything became too quick, too slow, all at once. Dante stood before the desk, saying nothing, only watching Hohenheim stuff a few final documents into his case. The room seemed to darken, but Dante could not tell if it were real darkness or just the odious stench playing tricks on her mind, causing her eyes to burn.
The case clicked shut. "I'm sorry."
No, you're not. Liar. You're the one who should be dead... but you killed me instead. Bastard.
Dante smiled. "You should be."
And then he was gone. All that remained was Dante, a house empty but for the scent of rotting death, and a grotesque imitation of life, wailing for its father.
[x-posted to fm_alchemist, fma_fanfic, fma_rare, lfangy]