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In the Wild


The eyelids were weights that carried the world, and Edward
Elric wasn't Atlas this fine day. Sighing in the warmth of the sleep, wrapped
in it so thoroughly that it was fleece across his mind, he was simply pliable,
a doll here in the unconsciousness, comfortable in the glory what lingered beyond.
And how the waking world was ironically the dream, far from his reach, his fingers
twitching in the open air.

"Oi. Edward. Eeeedward."

One of his hands tried to reach out, to slap at the voice,
to get it out of his field of thought, away from what was in his safe realm
of blessed velvet. Had his arm even moved, though? Had it even twitched?

"Open your eyes. You don't need your beauty sleep that
bad, do you?"

The tone, that biting sarcasm, that taunting, that hateful
edge, forced his lashes apart, made him peer into the glare of cruel nothing-light
of midnight. There was a figure in front of him, edged in a halo glow, something
that seemed darker than Hell, even though they were the center of radiance;
they were a star waiting to explode, to supernova, to blink out.

But... they... looked familiar...

Al? came the groggy thought, but that was replaced
with something more solid, a little more real, even if it was impossible, more
surreal.

M...me?

The cruel absurdity was filling his dilated pupils with
something different, something not real, couldn't be real, because he was himself,
and if he was talking to himself, then he must be going mad. Mad. Insane. Crazy.

It was all a matter of time. That boy is strange, you
know. I hear he lost two limbs when he tried... tried the forbidden.

No!

Yes! And his brother... did you hear what he did to
his poor brother?

Edward growled, his fingers twitching, tic tic tic, before
curling in on themselves. "Wh-what...?"

"Shhh." One cold, steel finger found his lips, pressing
to them lightly, and he shivered from the chill. "Shhh, it's okay. I just came
up for a chat. You do like talking, don'tcha?"

Edward would have bitten the finger if he had the strength...
and if the digit hadn't been metal. Instead, he stared up at the creature, the
mask that was his face, and snorted under his breath, but couldn't find the
strength to move, to fight back. Fuck, what the hell was wrong with him?! "...go...to..."

"Hell, yes, yes, all in due time." There was a short bark
of a laugh, something wicked as any fairytale, and Ed leaned in close, purring,
tasting ragged, labored breath. "And guess who will be joining me on that little
journey? Did you pack your hiking boots?"

None of it was making sense, the riddles, the taunts,
and eyes brighter than the sun and far less lucid glanced to the side. His room.
Dark. Shadow monsters hiding in the corners, behind doors, under eaves. And
he didn't know it, know this rented hotel layout, didn't recognize much of anything
in these four walls, much in even the face that was his own. Had he always looked
so maniacal? Had his eyes always been so fanatical? "What..."

"Your sins live, breathe, surround you every day," came
the slow purr, nose-to-nose, taking in the scent. Fingers slid down the rattling,
shuddering chest, sitting on hips that wouldn't, couldn't move, gripping until
bruises would show under flesh. "Can you face them? Can you face yourself, brat?"
Breath was warm against his lips, and Edward's tongue slid out to run the length,
to eat it because he couldn't get enough of his own air, so he would steal it
from himself, which was so awkward when he thought of it.

"The little golden boy, fallen from grace, a sinner in
the sea of wicked temptations." Another machine gun rattle of laughter, before
the doppelganger sat back, yanking the Elric up by his pretty little braid.
"How do you resist it? The urge to succumb to the power? To let it swallow you?
To own the world, to feel it rolling around your palm like a little toy?

"How do you not just devour it and regurgitate the remains?"

Edward's eyes watered, the red veins that spiked and pierced
the sclera spreading, striking more crimson until it took over all the white
of the eyes like a full sink with a single drop of blood. The pain in his head
was consuming him, a groan passing through his lips from being yanked about,
torn, and from... from whatever was making him leaden, heavy, lethargic. Power?
Power... meant... "Wha..."

"You have the power to own this pathetic wasteland," came
the purr, the long drawn out words that were in his voice, dammit, his voice
that rumbled in his own head. "You could own everyone. Could make them bow.
Could be their king, their God." There was a nose at his throat, breathing against
his skin, and it made Edward shiver. "And you could make everyone, make everything
pay for the Hell you have gone through. Yet, you stop.

"Why, Edward Elric?" The twin moved, still holding the
alchemist up by his hair, laughing at the circles under the dilated eyes. Together
the stood, separated at birth, the battered, the sinner, the guilty, and the
one that possessed, that owned, that held the power of a world in his hands.
"You could be Fuhrer. You could be anything, but you settle for drowning. Does
this look like the face of someone who is enjoying their life?"

Edward blinked, before rolling his eyes back and falling
into the hand that held him up. The pain dulled, rounded and hard in his head,
but it didn't matter, not in light of this... of this...

There was so much, the air was electric, and it buzzed
through his disconnected mind. Could be anything... could have anything... and
there was a pride, a greed in the words as they had dripped from those tainted,
twisted lips. But a truth. A terrible truth.

Edward knew... knew... and... it scare—

"I told you to come along, Envy," came the soft words,
flat and expressionless, and Edward's glassy eyes found the one who entered—
herherherherhermothermommymamahermymistakemysinmybelovedmineminemine
—, watching as the visage of his mother slid towards his twin, resting one
gloved hand on a metal shoulder. "We have better things to do than bother the
child.""

"Speak for yourself," Envy whined, looking down at Edward,
Edward who was spread and disjointed on the cheap mattress, Edward who was as
lost as his eyes claimed him to be. "Mmm, but I did so much to set this up.
Do you know how hard it was to get the powde—"

"It doesn't matter; we're requested elsewhere." Sloth
looked down, peered right through him, and Edward whimpered once, wondering
why she was touching the other him and not... not... oh, god... his sin! His
mistake, and she stared through him as if he were... were nothing. Pathetic.
Beneath. Low.

"Edward," she whispered in parting, "in the wild, most
mothers eat their young."

Envy cackled as he slid one arm around her waist, the
other, the metal one, waving over his head as they made their way out, exiting
stage south.

Unshed tears marred the slacking face as the clouds began
their thunderstorm of grief.