Ed gave him a quizzical look. The boy's fingers absently trailed through the spikes of his hair, alternately stroking the softer portions and the strands which were stiff and coarse; Envy groaned and rolled his eyes, thinking one of the first things he'd do upon getting home (whether he killed Edward or not) would be to take a fucking bath. Or, if he managed to find his powers returned to him by some trick of good fortune, then he would simply transform the uncleanliness away. Such a shame that he could not do the same for his insides.
"Again," Envy repeated, because why the fuck couldn't Ed just get the hint for once? He looked up at the ceiling, at the dust caught in the sun, swirling like a glass of liquid gold brought to sentience by a trembling spoon. "We're going home. You said it yourself. So you have to..."
A shiver, and his eyes fluttered closed as he bit his lip and felt the moisture on every part of him. "...you have to fuck me, Ed. How is that so fucking complicated? Go on. Do it. Touch your cock, get it nice and hard for me; mouth or ass, I can handle it. I'm so fucking generous that I'll even say you can do whatever you want, as long as I get to have you again. C'mon Ed, what's the matter, Ed? Looks like we're going to die anyway; I'll kill you or you'll kill me, so what does one last fuck matter? Go ahead. Take me. Do any dirty thing you want to do, because it's the last time you'll ever have the chance."
"No," Ed said, though he seemed to hesitate. "N-no. Don't ask for it. Don't say it. I'm still sick. I...I don't feel well. Let's just make the transmutation and go home."
"Always so chaste when the sun is out, aren't you, Elric?" Envy opened his eyes and regarded his companion; Ed's expression could almost be called stoic for the time being: golden eyes bright with sun, lips parted to bring life to words of incredulity, cheeks betraying his need as the tiniest swell of capillaries gave rise to twin blushes—all but hidden beneath his tan, yet Envy caught sight of the colour.
Looking at the boy now, it was easy to believe that—physicalities aside—he really was all grown up. His jaw might relax and allow for a smile, or a sigh, or it might stiffen for another round of grimacing; the homunculus felt a twitch of a smirk playing about his own lips as he stared at the tense little ball of muscle on one side of Edward's mouth.
Slowly, Envy's eyes lowered, watching his enemy's Adam's apple as he swallowed; then, his gaze descended further. Bruises, cuts. One distinctive scar. Muscles.
"But why should you be? You need to get laid. You've needed to get laid ever since you did get laid the first time; I know how the fuck a human's libido works. You think you're a man now, don't you? So be a man and take your cock and ass, since I know you want it, and if I'm just a body to you, then what does it matter?"
Not that he really saw it that way, of course. He didn't want to be seen merely as a mass of flesh, and he was fairly sure Edward did see him as more than the sum of his parts, but denigrating whatever connection they had accumulated was—as far as Envy knew—the only technique which might convince Ed to give him what he wanted...which, at the moment, was cock.
He'd never liked cock before; it was sickening, but he was a new homunculus now, and for one reason or another, he found himself craving sex. Lots and lots of sex. With Edward.
And while initially Envy had resented the notion of giving instead of taking, he found that now he was accustomed to the idea, and if that was what Ed wanted, then what did it matter? Sex was still sex; no matter who was getting stuffed, Envy felt content that he had full control of anything he started.
More to the point, he wanted the damned brat to like him, to love him, to find him appealing in every way.
Envy deserved it. He deserved to be loved by the son of Hohenheim, but he couldn't seduce his paramour with words—not when his mouth generated nothing but trainwrecks, not when each query or statement directed at him only prompted reactionary upchuck of jagged scrap metal. He didn't mean for it to happen; it wasn't as though he planned what he was going to say. He just did; it was the same as how a person screamed and flinched when confronted with intense pain—a response which occurred without a second thought.
By now, Envy had integrated thoughts of hating Edward and Hohenheim into every fibre of his being, and his tongue couldn't not turn especially acidic when confronted by Edward, and worse still, he couldn't just tell Ed what was causing the problem, because every time Envy attempted to explain his handicap, he ended up getting choked, or flustered, or different combinations of the two.
But sex? Well, that was a language Envy could speak. Dante had been the master of using sex as a weapon, a tool, something by which to gain what she wanted; it didn't have to mean anything, and to plenty of humans, it didn't.
Envy could proposition with his body in a way that he could not with his words, and if Ed refused? Well, Envy could always take...although he preferred not to—not when it was so much more satisfying to have Edward relinquish control and give of his own accord.
"I never said you were just a body. Where the hell did you get that from? Envy, I've been trying to reason with—"
A gasp cut through the words.
"Stop talking," Envy urged, voice nearly lost. He placed his hands on both of Ed's shoulders, one on each, and rubbed their lower halves together, hugging Ed's thighs with his own sweaty ones and thrusting their cocks together, hoping he might work up the delicious friction that he so desperately craved. Edward was still soft, but Envy felt a twinge of arousal spark between his own legs, eliciting a shivered moan. "Don't talk... goddamnit, I tried to fucking talk. So your turn. Your turn. Just. Just do. Just give me this, and..."
He wasn't able to finish his statement.
He wasn't able to finish his statement because Edward's lips connected with his—connected with a murmured swear, a soft mutter of "fuck", and they were so soft and right and Envy hated everything, he thought, but his hate was so polluted by desire that he could hardly think straight, not when he tasted Edward's tongue and lips and mouth.
It moved against him, everything: a warm press and swirl and heat, endless heat, pressure, and fuck he felt so alive that it was dizzying; he almost couldn't tolerate so much skin and warmth. Envy's body was now a lit fuse, surging and tingling at the most insignificant touches.
The fizzing sensation started in his tongue and skidded down his nerves, straight to his groin, causing his cock to harden further; his breath stuck in his throat as he kissed harder, more passionately, and felt his belly heat up in the process. It was embarrassing how sensitive his stomach was, how sore and hyper stimulated fucking left him feeling. But he couldn't care about that now.
"...still don't feel well..." Ed said between broken, wheezing breaths. "...might throw up on you—you stupid bastard..."
Envy only laughed. If he did throw up, it wouldn't be the first time, but somehow the Sin suspected it wouldn't come to that.
"Don't talk. Don't think," Envy insisted.
There was time enough for that afterwards. They both knew it.
They kissed again, more passion and need and pain and anger, and Envy tasted a little of the drink Ed had imbibed the night before, but mostly he only tasted Edward, and Edward was a taste he could never explain, but it was perfect—so perfect that Envy knew he had to hate the bastard, because he could never taste so perfect; with that taste that could never be described but simply was, and then they pulled apart, gasping already, small puffs of hot breath tickling their cheeks and noses.
Envy reached up and ran a hand through his hair, pushed it away from his shoulders and face because fuck if it wasn't getting in the way of everything, then got his knees beneath him and rocked forward, reached down between Ed's legs and ran his fingers through the golden curls, brushed his nails along the cock he felt stiffening there, grazed the head, and it was so very wrong, but he needed this in the most frantic possible way.
"Lube," Ed said suddenly, and with that he shrugged and edged back and Envy growled, irritated, because he didn't fucking need to fucking distance himself; what was that about?—and his eyes took in the sight of the blond's chest and stomach as they heaved in and out with each breath. "There's no lube! Envy? Envy, wait—! S-stop that, damn it, it WON'T FIT Wait. Wait, I have a better idea."
Envy placed his hands on his chest, then on Ed's, wiping off the blood and stone fluid that remained from his earlier scratching session.
"Right, right; if only I had more of this, eh, shrimp?"
And so saying he touched Edward's cheeks, smearing red across them like trails of war paint.
He wondered, honestly, how the fuck the kid knew so much about sex. Well, he was sixteen, and born in the country, and sex was really just a matter of Tab A into Slot B; any idiot could figure it out, let alone a kid renowned for being a prodigy. And maybe it was grossly apparent that Slot B was a too fucking tiny at the moment, and therefore totally unable to handle the capacity of Tab A.
Nevertheless, Envy craved the friction. He leaned back, arching so that his pelvis angled differently, with his cock and balls higher and the crease of his ass right above the head of Edward's cock; his eyes fluttered closed and open again and again as he drank in a breath of sunshine and pollen, dust and rain and spring time; above everything else, he smelled sweat and salt and oil as he edged back and forth, rubbing the patch of outer nerves as the cock he attempted to situate himself on slipped and squeaked between skin, dislodged by too much fucking sweat. What a sloppy mess, how embarrassingly clumsy, but it didn't matter, because Ed had no real experience, and he was so green and boyish that Envy didn't feel he had to live up to any sort of expectations, and instead he could just enjoy the bump and grind.
He swore, cursed under whatever was left of his breath, and pushed back and forth, holding onto Ed's thigh with one hand—nails digging hard enough to draw blood if they'd been any longer—and gripping (yanking) golden hair with the other. "F-f-fuck," he whimpered, squeezing his eyes closed as his cock twitched and his stomach did a flip onto itself; God, he couldn't breathe, never mind that he didn't need to breathe in the first place, but fuck; all the air in the world was gone, and all the water in the world was flooding over his eyelids.
There was no fucking way that cock was going to fit—
—but Envy was so wound up that fucking hell, he was going to come anyway—
—and then he heard his name, but said with such passion, such life that he'd never had, such regard that no one had ever given him, and he tensed, keened, and—
And hit the ground with a "thud".
And snarled at Edward, who had bucked his hips and knocked Envy off at a crucial moment, disrupting the Sin's pleasure and leaving him sprawled on the floor, panting, legs spread, cock still swollen and aching.
"Not that easily," Ed said. "This is the last time, right? So I want..."
Fuck. Fuck he was so glorious in the sun, with his tan and blond hair everywhere, messy around his face and shoulders and back, eyes serene and distant and strange—hinting at a mind filled with thoughts the likes of which Envy knew he'd never know—lips a hard line now, chest sturdy as his breath came and went as he tried to steady himself enough to speak.
Muscles shone with perspiration and automail caught the light and there between his legs, pillowed in gold, was that wonderful, magnificent cock: hard (so hard it must've hurt) and perfect, just long and thick enough, not overly so. It was pink and straining and wet and Envy could imagine squeezing it with his hands or taking it into his mouth, letting his throat heat the shaft and wiggling his tongue against the slit and nearly choking himself on it.
It was a sin, surely, to hate someone, and to crave them so badly.
"I want to see you. All of you. I want all of you."
Ed wanted him. Ed wanted him and Ed was admitting it and even if it was just because they were about to go home and even if it didn't matter, it mattered, and Envy didn't know what to say, but he shivered and spread himself wider and grinned shakily and hoped—fuck he hoped—that the brat liked what he saw.
"Why do you want me, huh?" he asked, shaking his head so that his hair formed a soft cushion beneath him. "What, do you think you can have me? Really have me? Hah. Don't be stupid, Elric."
But in spite of the words, Envy felt his thoughts spinning wildly, as out of control as was his breath and body. Ed was probably lying, probably just saying what the fuck he thought the homunculus wanted to hear, but being wanted by the son of Hohenheim was the most flattering thing he had ever heard, and he couldn't (of course) let Edward know how much it affected him, how those words made him giddy with delight; Envy already felt way, way too fucking vulnerable on account of having expelled so much anger, and on account of the fact that he was on his back ready to get laid, and now there was this, coupled with the assurance that—
Ed would leave him as soon as they returned home; it was like living the best day of your life and knowing that tomorrow would be the worst, and it was great and it hurt, and Envy groaned and put it all from his mind. He didn't need to think now. He could think later.
Now was for feeling.
"Not sure that I know why. I have a few ideas, but I don't think you'd want to hear them."
Ed left it at that, for which Envy was eternally grateful. He'd only asked in the first place because he'd felt like he needed to ask, because it was not enough for Edward to merely desire him; no, there had to be a reason, even if the little shit didn't know what it was.
There had to be something there, but it was probably something deep and strange and psychological, something creeping and lurking, something that Envy didn't want Ed poking into or hazarding a guess about. He wanted that merciful fucking silence, because it was enough that Edward wanted him for this short span of time, and it didn't matter why. It really did not matter, and Envy told himself that, and told himself to accept that and deal with it for right now. It would only be a few minutes—ten minutes, maybe.
Ten minutes, fifteen at most; ten minutes out of four centuries in which Envy knew he'd get what he wanted, and then it'd be over. Back to pain.
The Sin ground his teeth together and went rigid as Ed pressed his knuckle to the floor and shifted his weight, leaning way over and catching his mouth in a clumsy, sloppy kiss—insisting with his tongue until Envy yielded and let him slip in; the fire was still burning in his pelvis, in his groin and in his cock, and he touched his throat and his chest, pinching his hardened nipples before sliding his hand lower, rubbing his palm along his impossibly hot abdomen, and then he tried to dip further down, but he found his hand swatted aside by something that felt suspiciously like a knee, and he moaned, hissed, and gave Ed's bottom lip a good fucking bite.
Ed pulled his mouth away from Envy's with a grunt and another swear, then bit down his neck, lowering his head, hair falling onto Envy and tickling him every inch of the way.
"Oh, fuck," Envy managed, breath whistling through his teeth. "Fuckfuckfuck, fuck me. Tease. Bastard. Asshole!"
There were so many other names he could dish out, but Envy's brain felt fuzzy and tired. He noticed Ed seemed quieter than usual, less vocal and less angry than how he was when they'd fucked before; there was an awkwardness there, a sadness, a listlessness, and Envy found himself wondering at it, resenting it. Ed couldn't be depressed; he needed Ed not to be fucking depressed, and what the fuck did Ed even have to be sad about compared to himself? He wanted to kick him in the goddamned head, and he started to tell him to snap the fuck out of it, but then Ed's mouth was finding every sensitive place—his ears, his chest, his stomach, belly button, and—
Envy couldn't speak. Couldn't say. One. Fucking. Word.
Ed's lips wrapped around his cock, applied pressure, moist and hot and his tongue was there, rough and rubbing, and oh fucking hell fucking—
Envy arched so hard his back protested in the form of a sharp ache. His body screamed in ecstasy; every nerve cried out as a wail erupted from his lips, loud over the sound of his pounding heart.
It was blindingly intense. Envy dug his fingernails into the wood, into the designs he had carved. He was going to come. He was going to come right into Ed's mouth, all the while feeling the sunshine on his skin and seeing Ed's pretty face—or at least what wasn't hidden by his hair—and Ed's swollen lips holding him in just the right way, sliding over the smooth skin at the top of his cock before pulling off with a pop, leaving only a thin trail of saliva between himself and Envy. The homunculus twitched, hurt. Hurt. He sat up some, holding himself up with his hands, while his hair fell around him and he shook with the intake of breath and grumbled in other languages and he'd fallen out of Ed's mouth. What the fuck.
Ed was on his hand and knees, trembling from the strain, and when Envy sat up fully, he could see the muscles of his back and the curve of his ass and the way his cock and balls hung low; oh yes, Envy had a very good view and if he were behind Ed, the brat would be a perfect fit for mounting. The thought made him lick his lips.
"Cocktease." Envy had no idea what was happening, but what the fuck did it matter, anyway? His head felt buzzy, like it was a hive inhabited by hundreds of bees, and that was the only way Envy could think to describe it, but it was the best high and empty feeling, and he felt like if he tried to talk he wasn't going to be making much sense. Fuck, when did his body become so sensitive? Without putting much thought into what he was doing, Envy gulped in another lungful of air and reached between his legs, wrapping his hand around his cock. "...know what I'm...t-thinking of? Huh?"
Ed sat up, pushing himself up off the floor with his hand, though he kept the bulk of his weight on his knees. He took hold of Envy's ankle and pulled, and Envy aided him by opening himself as wide as he could go, squirming as the light fell pale onto his white flesh, tinting it the colour of faded dandelions.
His body, this body, this body that no one had ever fucked before, this cock that had never been touched by the hands of another, this perfect, flawless construct, lily white, unblemished by marks of any kind, smooth, all the colour of bleached bone...and all laid out for Edward's appraisal. Envy had worked so hard to make himself what he was; he had no idea how much time he'd spent on this form, but he'd always felt so confident before—before when he could slip from shape to shape, before when he had all the power he could ever need—and now he was naked, and he felt naked beneath his enemy's gaze, stripped and bare.
He smelled himself, tasted himself, dragged his lips back to reveal a flash of teeth, bit his bottom lip, and stroked.
"Thinking of...of...holding you down, shoving my cock into you; making it hurt as much as p-possible and...and thinking of—" Pleasure lanced through him, seizing his throat in a lusty, pained cry; his hand had a tight hold on his cock and was jerking; thumb on the head and all other fingers beneath the mushroomed skin. It felt glorious. So. Fucking. Glorious. "—whipping you, scarring that back, t-those muscles, making you bleed; fucking you raw, fucking you bloody..."
A harsh, grating laugh, and Envy saw Ed had taken hold of his own erection, and was stroking in time with his words.
"And?" Ed breathed.
Shook his head. So many colours of gold.
Envy stopped for a moment; hurt, hurt so much, it was killing him and oh God he needed release and he was almost there but suddenly he wanted to drag the moment out, to hold onto this little eternity in which they could have such perfectly mindless and meaningless and meaningful sex. They could give their bodies to one another again and again and again in Envy's mind, if only his eyes and mouth and ears could capture everything in this moment; from Ed's expression to the way he held his cock to the definition of his arm; the sounds of their breathing, the shades on their skin as the light fell, the shadows and the way the air smelled and tasted like skin, skin, skin.
"Envy. You'd n-never get that chance."
"I—" Envy pinched, twisted to give Ed as much of a view of himself as possible, leaned back, coughed and spluttered. He was so immersed, so on fire; he was twitching all over and oh fuck, fuck, fuck; his cock was weeping in his hand, dripping onto his fingers (think, THINK) "I—" And what a perfect sexual partner Edward was, inexperienced enough not to judge but smart enough to catch on quickly, to push his hand and body and cock through the motions; he wasn't big and masculine and cumbersome like the men Envy'd been fucked by before. He didn't stink of male animal—not too much so; he had enough smell of sunshine and cut grass, and he was hard in all the right places, soft where he should be. Envy hated him for it, for being everything he desired; hated him in the most passionate, intense, horny way, and—"Edward."
He came at the sound of his own voice purring the name.
Came to the sight of his enemy before him, naked, and his imaginings of what he could do to him, how he could hurt him and have him. Tipped his head back and screamed; spilled hot onto his hands. Tears sprang from his eyes, down his cheeks and everything blurred; Envy bit down hard until his lip bled.
He was coming too hard. He'd never wept before when he came, and now he was and his throat was probably fucking bleeding and every damned thing HURT.
If it'd been so good every time he'd come, Envy thought he might've gotten addicted to this by now.
He jerked a few more times reflexively, wrist numbing and aching mildly. Lowered his hand and rubbed his balls, mouthing words and waiting for the hardness to subside.
Envy felt so drained and boneless that he forgot to fight back when Ed wrapped his arm around him, pulled him closer so as to rub against him. He shook because he was so sensitive from his orgasm (and possibly from that combined with his orgasm the night before) and sobbed, embarrassed because he couldn't stop the tears, and he felt Ed's cock snuggle against the crease of his ass, shoving and using his come as lubricant. Envy guessed he wanted him to pull his thighs together so that he could have something tighter to thrust into, but the Sin couldn't stand to, and so he held them apart. He wondered how red his eyes and face were. Ed kissed him again, bit him, whispered words that sounded so unkind and yet so shamelessly arousing, and then the blond also came with a shout.
It was day, and they had touched, and they had denied nothing.
But Envy thought the denial was about to hit. He could tell by the way Ed held his head down, letting his bangs hide him. When he finally looked up, there would probably be that face—that guileless wonder, that bland curiosity, and then everything would turn cold and he would say nothing meant anything, because he always said that, and because Envy always said that, and he said it was what he wanted to hear, so why did it feel so bad.
Somewhere, singing, there were birds. Trains. The world lived on outside.
Movement. Throat clearing.
Envy untangled his legs from beneath himself and sorted his body. A part of him was afraid of someone deciding to speak (possibly even himself), but a part of him craved the words, because if there was one thing he had learned during his time on Earth, it was that silence led to thoughts and thoughts could drown you, and silence between himself and Edward only bred speculation and tension, and sometimes the tension just needed to be released. He couldn't stand more tension right now, not now of all times. His nerves felt blistered, like each was dying off one by one. He was feeling good and sore and now numb; he inched over to Edward and—even though places inside of him were still repulsed by what he was doing—he threw himself onto him, flopping like a fish into his lap, teeth chattering. Stupid bastard. Stupid bastard had no idea.
Under any other circumstances, Envy knew he would've never behaved this way—not in four centuries or one million years. But now? Well, now it was of no consequence, since they were going home and one or both would be as good as dead. He needed this, these memories. He needed them more than he feared the pain of abandonment that would surely ensue, because he'd never given this body to anyone, and nothing had ever filled up his empty soulless place quite like time with Edward had. It was like a damned drug. A drug of life. The life Envy had always wanted for himself. And he knew he'd never be satiated.
And even then, even at his most open, he couldn't find the words.
When you thought the world was made of lies, salvation and damnation were two sides of the same coin.
Heads you win. Tails you suffer forever.
Envy wanted to win, but even a fifty-fifty risk was too significant. It was better to just not go for the flip in the first place. And so the little round piece of metal rested under his tongue, rusted with age, and burned his skin.
Edward spoke first. Of course.
"Put your clothes on."
Envy raised his hands, scrubbing his face violently. He'd unclogged so much; did that fucking bastard really think he could recover so quickly? He wasn't being fair. All of the area surrounding his cock was still a raw battleground covered in quivering land mines of muscles and nerves; most had exploded and a few more were proceeding to do so in tingling bursts. The homunculus felt so damned cold. He hated wanting so much, giving so much. Why the fuck did everything these days turn into wanting and giving? What the fuck was he having? He'd never gotten Ed's ass, and assuming he didn't eventually kill the kid, someone else probably would. Their relationship would never be equal, because Edward pitied him at worst and desired him at best, but he didn't need him. No one had ever needed him. Even to Dante, he had been expendable, and to his bastard father? He'd most certainly been expendable.
He couldn't see his face and he didn't have the energy to concentrate on what his countenance was revealing, but Envy realized he must have been throwing a dark, bitter scowl in the boy's direction, for suddenly Ed's eyebrows raised. Bewildered. Quizzical. "What?" A nervous laugh, and then he raised his hand (pulled it away from Envy) to scratch the back of his head, beneath his now unruly hair. "You don't want to go home naked, do you?"
That. IDIOT. There were NOT ENOUGH EPITHETS IN THE WORLD. Envy had to keep his hands firmly at his sides to keep from punching him in the nose, and he had to keep his teeth together to keep from taking a bite out of that jerk. Yeah. He wanted to gnaw his fucking face off. Fucking sleaze. Was he oblivious or in denial or just fucking stupid? Envy really didn't have enough of a reserve of energy to be so pissed off, but he didn't know how else to react; anger was good, familiar. He understood anger, and it was welcome as a respite from anguish, the likes of which he'd been having far too much of these days. Anger saved him, protected him. He wanted to acquaint Edward's head with a brick, something nice and hard to knock the EMOTIONALLY CALLOW MORON right out of his skull.
"Well, I don't, anyway, so let me up."
And just like that, Edward thrust away from Envy—backwards and then onto his feet with the rare grace and experience of someone who had been trained in unnatural bodily motions. He scrambled off to clothe himself, giving Envy an alluring view of his naked ass, back side, and mismatched legs. Practical. Certainly the little shit would swear he was just being practical. But as for himself, Envy could accumulate enough anger to hiss and snarl and play various scenes of Ed's demise in his head, but he couldn't accumulate enough anger to do anything about his anger. It was useless, except as a comfort. Small comfort.
Envy found his legs and arose.
The icy burn on the backs of his thighs had lessened, but he felt so drained that it was a miracle he could think straight at all. Never before had he felt so sexual, so appealing and beautiful and alive. Now he knew he would wish for this stimulation and affection for however many countless eons he survived, but he also knew that this wishing would be in vain. Envy patted himself down, trying to beat away as much of the dirt and fluid as possible, as well as the flecks of Ed's blood that had gotten onto his flesh. It would've been nice to have a fucking shower, or a goddamned towel at the very least, but short of those, he did as best as he could and then went to dig up his rumpled clothing. Well. Not his. Not really. Nothing was ever fucking his!
Ed had already gotten cleaned and dressed long before Envy finished running his fingers through his hair and fumbling with an attempt to button his shirt. He gave up after one try and let it stay open, huffing in annoyance that Ed was darting ahead of him. Edward was eager. Eager to leave him. Eager to go back to his brother, his perfect brother, his fucking adorable kitten-loving sunshine-shitting brother, Alphonse.
And Envy could do nothing but go along with it, if he intended to survive.
If he intended to survive.
(Poetic justice might be killing Edward, and waiting for death)
He'd killed him before...
He'd killed him before...
He stood in an array. Like the one he found himself in now, yet different. The same nightmare. Two arrays, lost in time; different lines, but the same purpose. One drawn by Edward. One drawn by Envy himself. For Alphonse. For Edward.
In the underground city. Surrounded by lights. By gold. The ballroom. An array.
And blood pouring down his arm, Ed's heart pulped by his hand, and he smiled and—
—-setting the pace for every human; all humans would die—
—-until only homunculi remained—
(and where were they now?)
—-humans should die, every last one—
Ed was dead.
Ed was dead and never going to bother him again.
The array glowed. The brother moved.
Dead. Edward was dead. Never coming back.
(memories—like someone else's; felt alien)
The battle was over. Envy tasted victory.
But then Alphonse, the LITTLE brother, the little FUCK, had—
"No. Edward. No, wait!"
Edward was kneeling, touching the array to activate it. He had a look of wonder upon his face—the look of a man who admired and adored his craft. An impressed look. Impressed. He must not have believed Envy could draw such a precise array, such a detailed and useful array. Envy couldn't believe it, either. It had come from the Gate, not from his own mind. Or had it come from him, from knowledge he'd never realized he held? He didn't know. He was so tired. Maybe he knew more about alchemy than he had consciously realized. Maybe he'd picked something up after all, no matter how hard he had tried to block the memories out. Water symbol; he knew it, he wore it. Fire symbol: natural as well. Earth. Eight-pointed star of creation. Envy knew them. Somehow.
Everything was moving so fast.
"Wait?" Ed looked up at him. His features were already beginning the shift from amazement and silent awe to something else—something young and obstinate, something characteristic of the boy he had been and not the man he was growing into. Something small and irritable, a mood fit to wear a cloak as red as its cheeks when anger surged through them. A glimpse of the past. A glimpse of things Envy thought had been left behind. "Wait? You said yourself that we don't have long. And I think I know what you were...uh, what you were talking about. I m-mean aren't there, you know, there are people out there. A woman. Isn't that what you meant? They might be w-wanting the Stone."
Didn't stop him from wanting to talk. Didn't stop him from agreeing to fuck.
Envy had to say the words, even if they were murder.
"I want to talk."
Tore like rolling spiked balls out of his throat.
Had to try again.
Tremors. He was shaking, shaking so hard; how could he talk?
"You wanted to talk to me. I want to talk. Edward. EDWARD, I want to talk!"
He knew how desperate that must've sounded, how pleading. But on the edge of death (his own, or Edward's?), one had nothing left to lose. He had to tell someone. Even if he died. Even if Ed died. Even if the Gate consumed them both. Someone had to know the truth about his past, his history. Edward had to know. Even if that information would soon be gone, lost to the world, someone had to know. Envy's existence had to have meaning. It wasn't important what the fuck Ed thought about it, as long as he knew. As long as those years were shared. As long as that pain wasn't worthless. Envy had to say it, had to give him a detailed outline of the past four centuries. Pleasepleasepleasewordshavetofindthewords!
Ed had to know. Those years—
Those years had to be acknowledged.
A round mouth, the array drank the light of the sun, regurgitating it in the form of pale blue light.
A halo, around which everything was dark.
Phantom wind. Ed's hair lifted. Envy felt his own doing the same.
The transmutation had begun.
Envy's calves felt numb and his legs felt wobbly and ineffectual. This couldn't be happening, not yet! Not yet!
—it couldn't be happening; he couldn't be losing, not after he'd won, not after he'd killed him—
Scattered memories like ashes thrown to the wind, burned away by time. Envy's vision seemed to blur; twin arrays, unlike one another, appearing before his eyes. The past and the present were meeting. This seemed familiar. So fucking familiar. But in all the worst ways.
An array. He'd been born in an array.
An array. He'd jumped into an array.
And he and Edward had stood before the Gate, and—
That was how it was supposed to have ended.
That was how it all began.
Full circle. The serpent who swallowed its tail.
Edward was saying something; Envy saw his mouth moving and he heard his voice drifting throughout the currents of the ghostly wind bursts, but the air was now sizzling with energy, with the mystifying, electrical power of alchemy, and when Envy touched his chest, he felt his own body responding. Red light trickled forth, bled into the blue, and that whirling, dizzying, terrifying sensation overtook the cells in the homunculus's chemical composition. Edward looked serious again, solemn, but was he listening? Was he fucking trying to listen? Why had he suddenly rushed? Why had that bastard suddenly rushed? No fool—no fucking idiot—could have possibly believed that they'd have all the time in the world to chit-chat when they reached Amestris again. It wouldn't be like that. It couldn't be like that. Edward only had eyes for Alphonse. Envy only had a mind for his old way of life.
Full circle. No escape.
Envy had always loved to torment humans by letting them know the exact moment of their death. Oh how they shat themselves over that.
But now he found himself in a similar predicament, knowing what was coming and feeling helpless to prevent it. There was no right answer.
He was in a maze with no exit. No, the question could not be repeated. Test was over. Over.
It was a mistake. It must have been a mistake not to kill the bastard again when he'd had the chance.
In a flash
—a heartbeat, a swallow—
everything was gold.
Gold. The Gate. Looming before them, the double doors to heaven and hell. Architecture of God's hand, or the devil's.
There were some to whom God was science. There were some to whom science was the devil. Perhaps the three were one, a trinity unto themselves.
This was a land that was not a land. A world without sound, touch, taste. Sight was the only sense which held meaning within the Gate, and even sight was a lie, an illusion of the optics. Infinite gold came from nowhere, no source but for the fountains of perception. Creatures saw light only because their worldly minds could rationalize it in no other way besides a manifestation of light. Light forever.
Centuries ago, before he had understood light, Envy had known only blackness.
This land without seasons. This land without time. This land without life.
The doors creaked. Opened.
[[ welcome home ]]
A bodiless voice smiled, leered. Watched him. Home. Envy was home.
He knew of this place in a way too abstract and indefinite to be called memory. He knew that long ago, he had been one of those greedy, grasping creatures. He knew this had been his birthplace, the womb for all unearthly nightmares and delights. But in those days, his cognitive abilities had been on par with those of a baby, and now—now, an adult—he could no more remember than a human could remember infancy. He recognized only the vaguest sensation, the slightest stirring in his faux blood: that tripping, enigmatic feeling humans called déjà vu. Weirdness. Like a tickle.
Envy was well aware that the beings housed within the Gate were not humans, had never been humans, and in all likelihood never would become humans. He was also well aware that for his body to have originated in the Gate as a product of Gate matter, it would be impossible for any human corpse to have been him in the truest sense of the word.
Still, he cleaved to the memories, painful though they were. They were his meaning of life. His identity. His religion. His everything. His Greater Truth. Without them, he was nothing.
Nothing but one of them. One of the many.
[[ come to visit again, have we? ]]
The voice was not a voice so much as it was a wave crashing through the mind. A suggestion of sound where reality offered none. Words echoing throughout life and space and time. A siren's song, lulling and hypnotizing, and before Envy knew it, he was through the doors and eyes were upon him. Tens. Hundreds. Thousands. He didn't know.
Purple eyes. Where the hell were gold?
A sick feeling sank in his stomach.
Where the fuck was Edward?
Shadows clustered amidst the light, and the children of the Gate surveyed their brother, the child expelled from their hive. Hohenheim Elric had stolen him away from them, dragged him down and leashed him in the mortal world. Scrutiny. Sizing up. One star yanked from the nursery of the Pleiades not by the hand of God, but by the hand of a man. Little noises, like chirps and the rattling of insects. Speaking. They were speaking. Judging.
Before, Envy's bare feet had been on solid ground, toes nudging the grooves of his array. Now, there was no floor, no ground; nothing to separate the sky from the turf beneath it. Everything was one texture. Everything was bright.
Save for them.
"WHERE IS HE?" he demanded. "WHERE IS EDWARD ELRIC?"
Anger. Rage. Hate. His most frequently used emotions—his most primitive emotions and the ones he understood the best. He had triumphed over the Gate before through the sheer power of his ability to be pissed off. The Gate had not terrified him then, nor held him in awe, for hatred was born from fear and could overcome it. It felt like another lifetime. Was another lifetime, in ways, and he'd had so many goddamned lifetimes.
They were looking down on him. Smirking. Laughing. He felt the laughter. The derision. He'd fallen. Stars were only dust and fire, and the denizens of the Gate were nothing more than dark matter, thoughts and ideas and hungry nothingness. Appetite personified. Bitterness and the seeds of desires. Emptiness.
He had been one of them. Now he was not. And he had a pretty fucking good idea of what they thought about it.
Looking like a human was one thing. Homunculi took on human appearances as part of their moulds, and while the Gate creatures might chitter about it as they chittered about all topics, they could not justifiably slap the label of "hypocrite" onto a homunculus for its image. But a homunculus who could now sleep and dream? A homunculus who returned to its siblings covered in the stench of coitus with a human body? A homunculus tethered by its obsession with a human, the very human it had entered the Gate with? And not just any homunculus, no! Envy had been the loudest in his exclamation that humans were worthless, disgusting, frail. He'd sworn he would kill them all, every last one.
The others knew. Remembered. He was certain.
The nothing pulsed.
"WHERE IS HE? You'll tell me! You'll tell me, you fucking bastards! I'll rip you all apart!"
[[ tsk tsk...greedy, aren't we? ]]
"I am the Stone! This isn't meant to be fucking equivalent exchange! You'll give us what we want!"
Envy placed one hand over his heart, feeling the increasingly violent thudding of the archaic powers within him. Red. His body was emitting red light, a welcome change from the gold. The Stone was home. And Envy's mind, already obstructed by the third eye which opened into the Gate, was overcome with memories. Memories. Times and names now gone. Need. Sorrow. Voraciousness. Knowing that was not knowing and sight that was not sight.
It was mesmerizing, entrancing. So fucking tempting. So fucking tempting to just let the tide sweep him away.
He didn't have to be Envy. He didn't have to hurt. Or hate. He didn't have to think about Dante, the other Sins, the humans, or Edward. He could succumb to the Stone, the dark doors and the golden world inside of them; he could succumb to his brethren, the dozens and hundreds of arms wanting to (rip him apart) embrace him. He could close his eyes and fall back and be gone from all worlds forever. A part of the sea of light.
The current might claim him. He was home.
No. These thoughts weren't his. Not Envy's. Not his identity, his desires, his hell. He lived in hell. He was hell, but it was his, his pain! He couldn't surrender his misery, not when it belonged to him.
Identity was the most important thing to Envy. The least important to them. It separated him from his former siblings. It was the gulf, the divide. They were the nothing.
The voice's smile widened to a sneer.
[[ equivalent exchange has been bypassed...one thing has been taken... ]]
[[ ...much has been given... ]]
Dread. Heart-stopping, mind-shattering dread.
The Gate was still open. The Gate was still open!
The worst irony of all was, Envy realized even then that he was getting everything he'd ever thought he wanted.
Edward had faltered. One could not falter before the Gate. It was Envy's fault, and he saw that now. He'd spoken to him, shaken him...no, no, NO, this could not be happening! It couldn't be!
Envy nearly slipped, nearly forgot himself with shock and fear. But he caught his anger and gripped it, remembering himself, remembering that if he forgot even the tiniest detail, he might fall into the tawny lake for all eternity. Lost.
The Gate throbbed, swirled around him.
Rage. Feeling. He had to feel. Determination was the only force which could defeat the Gate's will—Edward's determination to save his brother's soul, and Envy's determination to find Hohenheim. He needed it now, that same strength. But oh, he was so, so fucking drained.
There were no directions here, no streets or fields, no changes in landscape. Everything was one way and all ways.
The arms were after him, tendrils slithering across his skin, voices (whispering, whispering) sliding through his ears; like white noise, speaking with a legion of mouths, laughing, laughing, scorning, grabbing, grasping. GET OFF, he thought at them, snarling, spitting. GET OFF.
Like pushing through a bubble, he had to shrug them off, burst through the membrane of their collective will. His will was stronger. He was stronger. He was himself. He was Envy. He had to BE. He had to BE.
Had to narrow his thoughts. Had to condense existence into a single focal point and drive towards it. He could do that. He'd been doing that for FOUR FUCKING CENTURIES.
The light changed.
Something exploded and Envy saw red liquid. It was coming from himself. Pain. The Gate had ripped. The Gate had taken. He couldn't look down, couldn't look at his arms or legs to ensure that they were still intact. He had to believe they were. It was all about belief here, in this spiritual multiverse of soul particles. He was not dying. The Gate was not going to fucking beat him!
I'm Envy! he told them. I am the Philosopher's Stone! I am hell!
Fuckers. Spectres. They couldn't hurt as much as he could. They couldn't hate as much. No challenge. He was superior. The Gate would fucking answer him. He had been denied time and time again. He would not be denied now!
The light changed again, its fabric pinching and twisting into white frills.
Envy could feel himself coming apart. Blood on his face, on his back. Like warm water dumped over his skin. Bones shattered in one hand. Wrist splintered. Popped out of skin. Pink muscles flayed and gave way. Abdomen opened like a sawed can, dumping ropes of innards. He felt himself limping and favoured one side, leaning, hoping it wouldn't shred as well. This could not be real. He was strong enough to make his own reality; he had the fucking Stone. His reality could oust this one. It would.
But this was Edward's transmutation, and Edward had lost his footing at the last moment.
When Envy came upon the boy, he found him in a worse condition than himself.
Automail had given way. Blown apart. Head was lowered. Redness everywhere.
Envy couldn't stop to investigate the extent of the damage, not with his own body losing itself. Oh, what a sense of humour the Gate had. He'd always wanted Edward dead and now Edward was dying, and he knew it, but not by his hand. Edward was his, not the Gate's! Edward was his! What was Envy, if he had no one to envy?
Give him back to me!
Envy limped to him as quickly as he could, hair blowing in the wind, skin aglow.
"You won't leave me! You fucking bastard!" Envy screamed. Screamed. Cackled. Sobbed. "YOU WILL NOT LEAVE ME, EDWARD ELRIC. You will not die on me!"
Alchemy. Fuck, if only he could do alchemy.
But then he had an idea. They had come here together. They could only go home together, alchemy combined with the power of the Stone.
Perhaps they could only leave together.
Why did Envy need the strength of his will alone? Why did he need to be alone? Ed was here.
Envy took Ed's hand (functioning, intact hand) and pressed it against his chest. Pulse. Life. Edward's head lifted, but his eyes were closed, as though he had lost consciousness. Envy swore, cried out. Damned him, willed him to move. Twitch. Do something. Draw the fucking array!
Ed shuddered, squirmed. As if moved by instinct, one finger swept the blood. Made artwork with it.
Eight-pointed star. Circle. Smudge of a seal.
Somehow, Ed understood. Somehow, Envy had reached him. Two wills fused. The alchemy charged.
They had the means to bypass equivalent exchange and turn hell to heaven, but only together.
Together, they fell.
Envy hit the ground with a start, gasping for air as though he'd just clawed his way out of the ocean. In a way, he had. Dark orange and red blobs splattered in his vision like the handiwork of an artist gone insane; between them, patches of sunlight floated through, peeking in as if to smile gently and pat him on the head, assuring him that wherever the hell he was, he still was. And that was what really counted for something, right?
Belated feelings of abject fear, anxiety, and helplessness crested through his system, rendering him momentarily senseless; deaf and blind. When his faculties returned, Envy thrust his hands before his face, staring for a long time at the uninjured white skin—utterly in disbelief over its amazing, wonderful tangibility. Realness had never felt so fucking good. Thinking, feeling, taking in oxygen. None of it had ever been so goddamned special. So perfect. For a time, he could do nothing but fall over and lie there, curled and foetus-like.
Having no God, he didn't know to whom his gratitude was owed.
But for the first time in his memory of being, Envy was grateful.
Beside him, Edward was unconscious (unconscious, not dead; he couldn't be dead, Envy knew—he just did).
When his brain oriented itself into something other than a clump of fuzzy numb elation, Envy came to the realization that they were back in the array he had carved. Still on Earth. On a surface level, nothing had been accomplished, but Envy knew that was not really the case. The Gate had been open. The Gate had leaked into Earth. Envy had seen it. But he couldn't worry about that yet. It was certainly cause for worry, but presently Envy only had the attention span left for what was directly before him, and that happened to be Edward and himself.
Envy sat up, sat over Ed, pushed the blond hair from his face to investigate whether it still was a face or a mess of bloody tissue. When he saw that yes, it was fine, he reached under the teenager and flipped him over onto his back to check for—
The world stopped for an eternity of a moment.
The transmutation had given all right. It hadn't given them what Edward had most wanted, no, but it had given something besides nightmares unleashed onto Earth's terrain. To say the process had been a failure would have been a semantics argument, because in the end, the Gate's twisted sense of humour shone through.
Envy cupped his hands over his mouth—
—then lowered them, running his digits across two tanned, muscular, strangely symmetrical arms.
Edward was whole.