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ambre

Wasteland

chapter 29.

Ed was not at all surprised at the feel of Envy's hands on him, travelling over him, climbing, and then his arms around him—seeking, embracing, clinging as if he meant to squeeze the life from him; his breaths, his raspy pants, Edward heard them, and then his own arms, limp, then returning, and before he knew what had happened, he was clinging to Envy, even if he was of a mind to strangle the stupid bastard for giving him so much trouble. Only he wasn't doing the smart thing and strangling him; his hands were on his arms, then his shoulder blades, touching as if to verify the reality of Envy's being. Boney, kind of boney.

"We'll get your sight back. Just relax. She—Sosostris—has two fake eyes." Ed coughed and tried to steady his breathing, though he still felt as though his lungs were raw and bleeding and on the verge of suffocating him. "There must be some technology, some craft, that allows for medical treatment for blind people. And if that fails, we'll ask the Gate. Once we get the Stone again—"

"Stop it, Edward. Just stop it! You're the one who isn't seeing." Even though the worst of his emotions had subsided (Ed had felt them subside) when their connection had severed, returning him to a certain sense of normalcy, Envy was clearly distraught. He'd taken his hands away from Ed and was wringing them, running his thumb over his knuckles as if he intended to scrub the skin off. And he was shaking, too; that was notable. Shaking hard. "What's the question that you haven't asked? Answer me that, if you want answers so fucking badly. Here's a hint: people don't just go blind out of the blue without cause, now do they?"

"You think I haven't stopped to wonder why this has happened? Well, you're wrong. I have. And I think our suspicions match more than you think. But if she did this to you, if they did, then there's nothing I can do about it right this minute. Just hold the goddamn fuck on until we get to the castle, all right? Then I'll get some answers out of these people. Answers, and more, and you know I'm not afraid to fight if I have to. But you know, meanwhile, you're not making things easy on me..."

"Easy on you?" Envy sat up a little. "You think I try?"

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"You think I try to be difficult?"

"I think maybe you do, yeah. Because you've decided I'm your enemy blah blah hate, blah blah envy, took everything from you, something or another, I'm never to be forgiven, and so on."

"For a supposed genius, you really are fucking dense, I swear." Envy shrugged, wiping at his cheek with the nub of a shoulder. His eyes were turned downwards. Up close, Ed could see the many different shades of colours that comprised his hair: not merely green, no, but black and green and pale, almost blond in tiny streaks. "Look, let me put this into perspective. You've believed for...what, sixteen years, that you're Edward Elric and that you have a kid brother named Alphonse and that alchemy is real and all this other stuff, right? What if one day someone showed you that was all false? Could you just shrug it off? Now imagine believing something for four centuries, if you can even wrap your brain around the idea of four centuries' worth of being."

Now that was a revelation, and a revelation stated with an astonishing lack of anger.

"So you're basically admitting that you know now that you were wrong all along in how you've been feeling?"

Envy slapped his hands over his face and argghhhhed into them. "That! Why the fuck do you always do that? Why do you say things like that and miss the point? It just pisses me off so badly."

"Everything I do pisses you off!"

"But that pisses me off because I'm trying to talk to you and you're trying to prove how wrong I am and how right you think you are. It's fucking annoying! You want me to tell you things sometimes, and then when I try, you just find some way to try to assert your damned sense of moral superiority. Makes me not even want to put the effort out there. Maybe that's why I'm 'difficult'."

"Fine. Say what you want to say. But I do have something to say to that, I think. I'll just wait until you're done. God forbid I interrupt you again with an attempt at an observation or a question."

"My point is that I've never talked before, you idiot. I've never...agh. I've never had a conversation! She never talked to me. If she wanted something done, she told me to fucking do it, and if I argued, she just hurt me. I've seen the world one way for a long, long fucking time, a lot longer than you've been a pain in my ass. I don't want to be anything. I just am how I am. Why the hell would I want to get in your way when you're trying to help me? I don't want to! I just can't stop myself! It's...what's the word? Reflexive."

Edward couldn't believe how lucid Envy was being, given that only moments ago he had been experiencing one of the worst emotional states Ed had ever seen anyone go through. It was idealistic to suppose Envy had managed a catharsis and had somehow drained his body and spirit of those extreme, negative emotions; more likely, once the connection had broken and his trigger had been lost, Envy had suppressed the painful memories once again, burying them beneath ages and names and faces that were not the ones he wore now. All the same, Ed couldn't shake the notion that they were closer to the surface now than they had been earlier, and he remembered everything he'd seen and experienced far too well. He still felt faintly ill. He wanted to lie down and sleep.

"The way I fight, the way I act, the way I talk..." Envy had mostly stopped shaking, but just then, he shuddered hard and looked like he was going to throw up, but he didn't. In spite of his remarkable composure of mind, lingering distress was plainly eating him alive. Ed resisted the urge to touch him; there'd be time for that, later. "...it's just me. It's who I am. It's who I've been for as long as I can remember. I see the world one way. You see it another. But I'm only talking like this now because it's the level you talk on. It's the way you talk. You always want me to rise to your level, talk to you like you want, in a way that fits you, and then you use your intellect and your sense of morality and tear me down, make me feel inferior, and I hate it, and I hate you, and I hate talking like this and it's making me all upset. I want to puke my guts out, 'cause saying this shit is NOT ME and it I hate how it feels, goddamn you."

"What? What? Am I hearing this right? You want to kill me—and everyone—and have no respect for any human, but you're all sore and hurt because, what, I'm not giving you enough respect? You want all this respect and tolerance for your views on, uh, genocide?" Ed couldn't help it. He just couldn't. He burst out laughing—in spite of how dire their conversation was and in spite of the fact that he felt positively miserable. Or maybe it was because he was miserable, and tired, and he just couldn't think well enough to hold his derision in check. "I understand that you've been taught to think in terms of me, me, me, for years now, but what you're saying isn't logical. It's just not! If you want to be treated well, you have to treat others well. That's just how it works."

Envy just stared at him.

Or well, not at him, of course. But Envy stared. Quietly. Mouth open. For a long time.

"You know what?" he said, finally, and his tone was low and hungry and dark. He held his hands up in front of his face, keeping space between them, and in an instant, he twisted them in opposite directions—a gesture reminiscent of snapping a neck. "Sometimes I just want to crack your little blond head open, spill your fucking brains, shove my perspective into your head until you get it, then put you back together. And then kill you. Still dead, but less self-righteous. That'd be my dream—my wet dream."

"I do understand your point of view, I think. It's pretty obvious, for a start, and I felt it just now, and I saw and felt a glimpse of your past, so I understand more than you think. And I've tried to talk to you on your level for a long time now, if you mean what I think you do about levels...your level being mostly insulting and fighting and sex, correct me if I'm wrong about those being what you see as your main methods of communication. But."

"But?"

"But you're used to hating me, and by the same token, I'm used to...well. It's not easy for me to let go of my anger, either. We are still enemies, aren't we? You've said we are. You just said you hated me. I can't give you joy and roses; you won't let me, and I can't, anyway, for the same reasons you can't. You can't just stop hating. You can't be vulnerable. I can see you as a person, but—"

"But, Edward? But? But what?"

"But I'm not Al! Okay? I'm not Alphonse! I'm not my brother. I can't pour out infinite sympathy. I can't shoulder your burdens forever. I can't always be kind when you're saying the things you say, even if you're trying. I can't! I'm not that strong. Aggression makes me aggressive right back, same as compassion makes you aggressive. I'm sorry, I am. I am sorry I don't have the kind of patience others have. You're stuck with me and I'm stuck with you and that's that and I'm tired and we're tired of each other and maybe we should sleep. Maybe it was a mistake to try to talk. I don't know."

Ed slumped, leaning back with his head pressed to the side of one of the seats. He sighed. This hadn't gone well, wasn't going well, and he didn't know how it could go, should go, what he wanted, or what Envy wanted. It was enough to give him yet another headache, and it was just so frustrating, sufficient to make him crazy, as if he weren't going crazy anyway. Really, he wanted to discuss the Stone, and their imprisonment, and what they ought to do about that imprisonment, and about all the circumstances surrounding it, and he wanted to ask Envy what the Gate had shown him of Sosostris, but Envy seemed too focused on himself and his past hurts. Every time Ed had tried to steer the conversation toward their current plight, Envy had taken it back to their problems, their relationship problems, and as eager as Ed had been to discuss those prior to entering the Gate, he just wasn't currently in the frame of mind to converse about Envy's...social difficulties. Or their mutual communication difficulties, relationship difficulties, whatever.

He didn't think he was sorry, either.

Not really. He'd said before that he wasn't going to apologize to Envy again, and he'd gone against that, but he didn't think he was truly sorry. He certainly didn't feel very much in the way of remorse; mostly, he just felt exasperation. He'd wanted the conversation over with because it wasn't going anywhere; it was getting out of hand and he couldn't think straight or formulate responses that sounded fitting, and they were both getting fed up; it was best to visit the subject again later, sometime when conditions had improved (if they ever improved). He didn't know how much time they had left on the train, what their first destination or stopping point might be, and who else might be on board in the other train cars. The latter point was particularly of interest to Ed, and he wanted to take Envy and investigate the matter further, but knowing Envy, that was probably not going to be an option. And he couldn't leave Envy...for several reasons. The homunculus would get himself into too much trouble, or damage something, or damage himself.

"You can't handle anything you start," Envy whispered. "You're just like him."

Edward watched, one eye open, as Envy wrapped his arms around his knees and lowered his head into them, panting loudly, though from his view, Ed could see that his eyes were still open, and he turned, as if he could see something; when he looked down again, he breathed expletives and demanded not to be touched. It was a strange sight, but not an unexpected one. Envy'd had such an intense release of memories, even if he was suppressing them all over again; it had to be a drain on his body and that stressed, undead heart. Ed saw, listening to the train purr as it crawled forward. He winced, because Envy couldn't see him anyway. And he twitched.

He shivered and swallowed and remembered the pain he'd felt, Envy's pain, and his hands and body and heart didn't know what to do, even if his mind had all the answers, because how could you hope to care for something which didn't care for you? You can't be vulnerable and neither can I, he'd thought earlier, but hadn't said, because Envy wouldn't say—Envy wouldn't give anything besides denial. Vaguely, inexplicably, he felt some sense of hurt and sadness and some feeling that he'd crossed some line, and that no matter what happened now, he would never be without nightmares again. He couldn't foresee a happy ending for the situation he and Envy had found themselves in.

Ed was beginning to accept that no matter what, loss seemed inevitable.

The acceptance caused him more grief than the fact.

I thought I wanted to care, but I'm afraid of caring too much, he wanted to say, but he couldn't say that; he couldn't give an edge. He just couldn't. Wouldn't. Because this can't end happily and I can't...we can't...how will we...

How would he ever be all right again?

"Talk all you want," Ed suggested, rubbing his upper arms to massage the ache from them. His hair had already begun to come undone and his new clothes were probably getting dirty from all this sitting on the floor and rolling around, but he didn't care. His arms stayed crossed at his chest, as if giving some of form of protection. "If it helps you to tell me about your experiences, then fine. Go for it. But I'm not going to be very responsive. When we try to have a dialogue, it just doesn't work, does it? Just gets us both mad, is all. You said you never had conversations. Didn't you ever talk with the other homunculi?"

"I lied to them. We exchanged lies." Envy's words were muffled by his positioning, face pushed into his arms, but Ed understood them. Another sneer, though Ed could only see a part of it. "I'm a good liar, Ed. You can't trust me. You know you can't trust me. I've been lying since before you were born, y'know. Those fucking fools. They just believed everything she told them, hah, but not me. I knew better. Let them get their poor little dreams crushed. I've got no sympathy for losers. I've got no sympathy for humans, or anyone. It's a weak emotion, sympathy. He never touched me. Never laid a hand on me. But I hate him a thousand times more than I hate anyone who's ever fucked me up since, and do you know why?"

Ed didn't respond.

"Because he didn't prevent it. He didn't prevent a single fucking thing, that useless shit. He could've, you know. He could've. But he made me with what he did, and he made me with what he didn't do, and I hate him for that more than I hate her for all her lies, because at least those lies have kept me filled while I was waiting alone in places darker than you could ever dream of. I don't remember it all, but I know what's happened."

Dante's lies may have sustained Envy when he needed words to hold onto and therefore given him his own warped sense of justice and reality, but Edward found himself thinking that now, those lies were only crippling him, holding him back, making his ability to fit into society nearly impossible, if not outright impossible. But Ed didn't say that. Such an observation would've only prompted an argument, and he didn't feel like dealing with one of those right now.

"You must hate her sometimes," Envy went on, apparently unfazed by the lack of a verbal acknowledgement.

"Who?"

"Your mother. She died young and pretty and innocent. She never killed anyone, never hated. Probably only ever fucked her husband, and then probably only after they were married. Heh." Envy took a second to push his hair away from his face and then resumed his position, teeth grazing his forearm. Chewed, then paused. "You'll never have that again for as long as you live. You'll never be...innocent. Or pure. You must hate her sometimes for dying and leaving you and your brother all alone, to get fucked over by the military and the world and me and everyone else. While we're sharing all this bonding emotion, why don't you go ahead and admit your own hate? I'm not the only of us who lies."

It really was amazing how every time Envy spoke, incredibly offensive words came out. Stuck record, indeed.

"I was mad at Mom for dying, sure. But I didn't hate her. Sometimes I've resented her. Sometimes I've wished she were still alive. I wish a lot of times that things were different, but hate? That's a pretty strong word."

Not that he owed Envy any answers, anyway, and not that he thought Envy really cared to know his opinion on the subject. More like Envy was just being Envy, and it probably wasn't best to feed into that. Still, Ed gave honesty to the best of his ability. Once he had finished speaking, he rose to his feet, brushed off his knees and pants, and walked over to where Envy was huddling in on himself. "You're a mess," he said. "Your face is all dirty. Here, let me see your hands. Look up."

Envy jerked, visibly startled—presumably because of the nearness of the voice. "Fuck off," he said, staring forward blankly; his pants now carried the sounds of intermittent whimpers, or things a little like whimpers (laboured breathing, at the least). His teeth were clenched and his face was screwed up as he scowled; tears lay drying on his cheeks, his mouth was chewed and smeared with stone fluid blood and his hair was—more so than usual—a mess. "You can't tell me what to do. Go away. Don't touch me. Don't you dare touch me."

"I'm not going to wipe you off. You're going to wipe yourself off. Give me your hands."

When Envy refused, Ed reached down and grabbed at his arms. He caught a hand and held the long, thin fingers in his grip; Envy twisted, and the other had subsequently closed into a fist and swung at him, but he caught it, as well. And then Edward knelt and, feeling he was caught in something of an absurd, grappling pose, he pushed one hand back and rubbed it across Envy's face. A tear trail smeared away at the touch, and Envy flinched. "Let me go!" he insisted, but his grip loosened. He was tired; Ed didn't have to feel his mind to know that. Incredibly tired. "I swear, Ed, I'm gonna kill you for this as soon as I get my powers back. You just wait and see."

"Yeah, whatever. You can't see to fix yourself, and I'm just tired of looking at your ugly mug when it's all covered with blood and tears, and your hair is...I don't even know. Have mercy on those of us who can still see and let me help you get yourself clean."

"Are you going to fuck me now or what? I think you should keep your goddamned hands to yourself unless you're going to go all the way and give me what I want from you. I hate getting hard ons in this outfit, you fucking bastard. I can't shapeshift them away anymore." Envy yanked his hands away from Ed's and scrubbed his face relentlessly, if clumsily. His hair was still sweat-soaked and hanging awkwardly about him, but there was nothing either of them could really do about that for the time being. "I'm cold. I hate being cold. Your hands are warm. I think I need more Stones. She'd better give them to me...that bitch."

"Who is she? What do you know about her—or any of them?" Ed didn't protest when Envy sought out his own hands, found them, and moved them forwards. He knew where this was going, and he really wasn't in the mood, but if he complained now, he might not hear what he had been waiting to learn. "What does the Gate let you see? Does it give you some kind of...sixth sense, so to speak?"

Envy sat up on his knees, perhaps realizing that Ed was kneeling as opposed to sitting down.

Suddenly, the Sin seemed very curious about feeling his way around.

"The Gate is the biggest liar of all." Envy laughed. "It tells me things, then makes me forget them, but I remember that there's shit I've forgotten about her, about everything. It makes me crazy, Ed—wracking my brain to remember who people are, even though I see their faces and I know them, but I don't know them. I don't know shit. And then I start to wonder, do they know me? It drives me fucking crazy, same as you're going."

Ed shifted so that he was moving into Envy's touch, easing his face against the crook of the other's neck—inhaling his scent, tasting the familiar taste of Envy: that taste that was different every time, but always the same; salt and wind, time and ocean and rock and pain and blood and anger, if anger could be a taste. Metallic rage, ionic and acidic and yet faintly sweet; much of everything and a lot of nothing. Now, now, Envy always tasted of Ed himself.

Initially, he'd been disinterested, amused, and even somewhat repulsed by the notion of sex now (now, when they might not even have the time left to begin with), but it was beginning to seem more and more appealing with each passing second, with each breath of Envy, although he still didn't like the idea of having to fumble to get this damned clothing on and off. Sex between them was always so bizarre, so awkward and full of dark emotions that had no names and clawing, gasping need, and Ed was so scared of asking questions, but he didn't have to. He didn't have to justify his actions to anyone. There was the comfort of routine, of not having to worry about impressing the other, because they'd been through this before, and he knew how it was going to go, how it was meant to go.

He didn't know what the fuck he was doing, but that was all right, because Envy didn't, either.

Sex, when one got down to it, was pretty easy, pretty straightforward, and when one divorced one's mind from consequences or relevance or guilt, it was pretty excellent, even for an exhausted body, but how could Envy be ready to go after all he'd just gone through? The homunculus was bloody; he'd just been traumatized, winded from arguing, and he was still game for fucking? Absurd, but not surprising. Envy's libido was a fierce dragon once awakened, and Ed's own was all too alive and kicking.

That, above all else, caused the first stirrings of hardness in Edward's cock.

Appetite. Need. Being needed. Desired. Wanted. Envy could deny it to hell and back, but his body said otherwise, and Ed had felt that need; he'd caught a whiff of it and it had damn near knocked him down with its intensity. The way those feline eyes looked at him, even when blind; it was amazing, just amazing. Ed pulled back from his drowning in the other's hair and saw all the lust in the world in those eyes. They darkened a certain way only when Envy wanted him, needed him. Even without sight, Envy only ever had eyes for Edward.

"I despise the dark," Envy said, but he didn't look upset. Lips pressed together; tongue swept out in an arc, licking the blood away, a grin, and their noses touched, mouths close, breath stirring, coming together in a warm patch, and there, there was the kiss—soft, then harder instantly, fierce—

—and the lust: the dizzying tidal wave of lust; Ed hadn't expected it, but the connection had been turned on again, different now from before, like a rope of fire and lightning between their minds, sizzling bright with electricity—

—and the kiss broke a little when Envy gasped, shivered.

He'd seen. Ed knew he'd seen.

"Take off your clothes. Now, Ed, or I'll rip them off you," Envy said, and his hands agreed to that promise as they clumsily wrestled with Ed's clothing; blind, searching, fluttering fingers—not so blind that they couldn't easily locate his pants. Fingertips dipped lower, sank below the waistband, brushed against golden curls, and both parties hissed simultaneously in an exhalation that touched their faces.

Ed had never gotten used to the tingle that began in the base of his spine and ran the length of it, sending his brain on vacation. He would never grow accustomed to the way touches like these heated his belly and made his toes curl.

Envy licked his lips (licked the taste of his lover) and Ed bit his own lip at the sight, trying not to whimper as Envy explored the familiar territory, fingering and sifting through the hair, poking and stroking and gracelessly finding his way to Ed's (oh, fuck!) cock. Ed began removing his shirt—such an easier task with two hands!—while his brain sank somewhere beneath the lust and the sleepiness and the rage and the other ten thousand shadowy things that haunted his mind. This was wrong and sinful and shameful and evil and he knew it, oh he knew it, but there were the hollows in him that wanted to be appeased, to hear the words unsaid in the lighter corners of his being: the unspoken words, the words without voices or syllables, older than civilization and love and harmony and language.

Discord, whispers of smoke, words felt as Ed's hands closed around Envy's throat, encountered a tense swallow, then lowered to run across the fabric covering his chest. Black. Warm. Breathing beneath, and a heartbeat thudding away. Breaths were quickening, oh, he'd be gasping soon. Ed shoved his nails beneath the cloth and jerked, scratching the thin skin over the chest and revealing—

—there, carved by his own hand, in his own blood—

His seal. The seal that bound them together, spirits and minds.

The seal that made Envy his. Truly his. And there was a power in that, in knowing that—knowing he had something, a force unto itself, that no one else had ever truly possessed. Owning Envy was like owning the uncontrollable side of himself, like being able to take hold of his own most sinsister and twisted desires, to have them laid out before him, ready and willing.

Ed smirked as he leaned forward. Lips curved against skin.

He heard Envy's breathing hitch and imagined his mouth open as if to say oh and it was a pretty image, an image which shot straight to his groin and caused his cock to stiffen further. Envy's touch was so fucking close and he wanted to beg, to plead, to sob for him to just touch him already, because there was the beginning of that tell-tale hurt, but when Ed started licking, Envy hesitated.

Ed didn't, however.

The lines he had drawn with his fingers he began to trace with his tongue, daring the power of the Stone and the power of his will to keep the marks steadfastly painted on. There was something so private, so unique, so powerful about the nature of the blood seal; it was like going down on someone and reading their naughtiest fantasies at the same instant, as the emotions and thoughts surged up, buzzing. Ed took in a deep gulp of air and slowly, indulgently ran his tongue along his design, savouring the taste and the scent of Envy. Salty, but not too much so. Sweaty, if only slightly. With every rough lick, Ed could feel the Gate, like a distant drum pounding in the back of his head, urging him to lose himself, to forget himself, to succumb, to hold Envy down and hurt him and fuck him until neither of them could see straight.

"Lower. Your hands," Envy rasped, sounding dazed and stricken (and surely he was).

Ed's eyes closed to slits as nails dragged up his back, stinging and burning.

He shivered to feel the force of their twin arousals, and then Envy's fingers were in Ed's hair—sifting and digging and pulling as he grunted and growled insistently, demanding further petting. While his tongue continued to seek out the bloody alphabet of their secret language, Ed's hands squeezed Envy's sides and moved inwards, discovering that his abdomen was trembling, slick with sweat, scorchingly hot, and tense. Tight, like a drum skin. Hard places and soft places.

"Why the fuck am I the one who always has to tell you to fuck me? Why don't you ever—"

Envy's protest was cut short as lips and teeth clamped down on the nub of a nipple and one hand yanked his (skirt? shorts? loincloth? what the fuck was it?) clothing lower.

The motion elicited a gasp—a bitten off gasp that wanted to be more than it was, like a whimper or a sob or a moan—and Ed opened his eyes and looked down, seeing skinskinskin, pale and white, creamy like milk (milk? oh for fuck's sake), the basin of an abdomen sinking and ending above painfully thin, fragile looking hips (jutting out, up, vulnerable; sticks of bone and skin). Ed could see Envy's cock (that word, what a word; he'd never get used to it but it fit so well), thick and long and pale and pink, more red on the tip, blushing and dripping and swollen and Ed found himself with the weird desire to lick it, to wrap his lips around it and taste. And swallow.

How odd, to want to take a cock (that word again) into his mouth.

But a cock seemed so fucking different when aroused, when hazy-minded, when drowned with whatever the fuck this was, when breathing hard and licking and nibbling and sucking on pink, stiff nipples.

When aroused, the mind changed, came alive with sensation and physicalities and the possibilities of skin and touch and taste, and a cock became so much texture and colour, so much to finger and explore and lick, and Ed's heart was thumping and his nerves were fizzing and firing and he gasped and before he knew what he was doing he'd lowered himself so that his knees were farther behind him, supporting his weight, and his ass was lifted in the air, and—

Envy shuddered and swore and half-sobbed when Ed buried his face into that warm place between his thighs, fastened his lips around the head of his cock, and sucked.

—wet, salty, silky, hard; would the smell be more intense if Envy had a nest of curls to bury one's nose in?—and Ed's hair was in his face, scratching and hot and making him itch and he felt how red his cheeks were—

Ed took deep breaths through his nose and looked up, taking in the sight of his enemy. Violet eyes half-closed. Chest heaving. Breathless and lathered in sweat, gasping and moaning when Ed moved his tongue the right way, whimpering and seeming just, just on the edge of begging. Envy's brow was relaxed and his lips were swollen and plump and sore-looking, still reddish from his injuries; behind them, he was gritting his teeth, because he always gritted his teeth, and Ed made a note to file this way for the future when he and his hand were alone. Oh, yes.

Defeated, beaten, overcome, conquered.

It hurts, Ed realized, because it did; it burnt, ripped, ached. Hurting. His own cock was so hard it felt like it would split in half and he whined around Envy and rubbed his legs together, hoping to ease the pain with friction, but oh fuck. Oh, fucking hell. He was still wearing his pants and he couldn't spread his legs far enough. They were still together, still teasing him, still making things worse and worse and he pressed them together harder, licked a few times and swirled his tongue and then paused, opened his mouth to scream, but instead he swallowed the sound and merely groaned.

A lack of sight must've made Envy so much more sensitive.

—hypersensitive, intensely stimulated, blazing—

Screaming, squirming, flustered. Envy's hands pulling Ed's hair, then his own.

Envy twitched, arched, writhed, screamed, and Ed understood, realized, that; he was (feelingexperiencingthinking) sensing what Envy was sensing, sharing his pleasure in this act, dividing his lust, his rage, his hate, his urge to hurt, to dominate, to claim victory through fucking.

Tentative licks, tongue tracing the slit; removal of lips, hot breaths, and Edward lowered his head as much as he dared and nearly gagged but didn't, and his tongue nudged a vein and as if by their own will his hands cupped Envy's balls and tugged gently, gently.

Ed felt Envy's (and his) come boil. He knew what would follow.

Thighs clamped around his face.

"Fuck," Envy ground out through clenched teeth—a cracked, broken word, and he was trembling, shaking, arms by his sides, nails digging into his palms and in a moment he just arched so hard that it hurt, so hard that Ed felt it hurt, and his hips shot upwards, drove higher, upupup and—

Edward swallowed, sucking and inhaling the come quickly, thoroughly, and it was salty and hot and burned his throat and fuck, his own pants were sopping and his eyes were rolling back in his head and he didn't catch everything and a gob hit his mouth and dribbled down onto his chin when he tried to pull his lips away for breath. He hadn't expected to climax, too, and it was almost overwhelming, the force of so much combined lust; like getting hit on the side of the fucking head. For a while, all Ed could do was sit there and gape as he held Envy's throbbing, softening cock in his mouth, absently lapping at the come and smoothing it along Envy's exposed abdomen with his fingers.

Why did people do this, anyway? Now Ed's jaw felt funny and he thought the come might curdle in his stomach and make him throw up, but no, that probably wouldn't happen. He didn't really know how this shit worked.

Well, he knew about the chemical properties of semen, of course, but his experience was rather—

But Envy's wasn't—

"Oh. Damn," Edward whispered, not feeling particularly eloquent or thoughtful at the moment. Orgasm was so. So. So much, and his head was all buzzy and his legs felt like noodles and he laid himself out, collapsing to the ground and relaxing with his head in Envy's lap, but only for a second (and he heard a grunt and felt a hand trying to shove him away, of course), and then he hastily fixed the homunculus's clothing back into place because now, arousal gone, it was just weird for Ed to be sitting with his cheek propped up against someone's cock. Weird and, well, a little gross, but he didn't voice that. He didn't voice anything else. He just flopped.

While his brain was still away with a note to check back in later, Ed took a moment to wipe his face with the back of his sleeve. Sick, but a good kind of sick; repulsive, but—what? What? Not his thoughts. They were not—

—were—

His mind conjured the image of a shadow passing over the sun, across a mirror whereupon no reflection rested, and Ed smiled lazily, lopsidedly, contenting in the feel of the train's movements. His stomach flip-flopped and endorphins danced in his head and his thighs and groin burned with the tide—pins and needles of pain and pleasure.

Pain and pleasure, sunshine and flower buds opening and years dying and cats slithering by and by and blood droplets fat and wide in excruciating detail as they dripped from corpses, like a lullaby, a murmur, a whisper of another world without a sun, where the moon looked pale like broken bones.

Edward inhaled and found himself next to Envy, and he looked across from him at his prettycrazyunseeing lover, his willfully stupid and willfully blind lover, his lover who could look right into Ed's mind and still take his words for lies, who could make scriptures of his own lies, and lies, and lies. Envy sat up, shoulders and head propped against one of the seats (and like fools, they were both still sitting in the goddamned aisle!), stomach and thighs and clothing stained with drying white liquid, hips rising from where his waistband dipped low and pooled. Navel was a long oval, perfect; not a flaw anywhere, no wobbly places; Envy's eyes were foggy with post-coital bliss that Ed both saw and felt, a little, but something piercing shone through, and those many many shades of dark hair fell over him, all over him and all over his bony, lithe, muscled, absurd, ugly, perfect body.

Envy turned to Edward and laughed, and it was not a kind laugh. His laughs never were.

Ed knew he would not speak.

There was nothing more to say.

Except.

"Sometimes I did hate her."

Ed touched his throat with his fingertips. When Envy stared at him, when Envy continued to face his direction, Ed felt as if he saw more now than he had ever seen before, when he could truly see, and it was an unnerving sensation, like a spider scampering along his tombstone, spinning webs where the letters had been engraved.

"Sometimes I hated my mother for leaving me," Ed admitted, and while he had thought he could say the words without emotion, he found himself shuddering and choking on a sob. He cursed his body for betraying him, but the truth—much as it hurt—felt infinitely more real than the rest of what currently constituted his reality. "I've hated a lot of people a little. I've hated a few people a lot. I'm not telling you this to give you ammo. I'm telling you this to save my sanity and my soul."

Ed just knew Envy would launch into him for that one. Oh, yeah? You little pussy cocksucker whiny lying human bitch. Ed could just hear it, words and tone of voice and everything, but time had given him a vaccine against Envy's taunts, and Ed was immune to pain from words. But while the age old miasma of fear and loathing and unbridled rage and indignation was so thick between them as to be suffocating, Envy kept silent. Disturbingly silent.

It was a sort of knowing silence, Ed realized. An angry silence. A merciless silence. The crazy and pretty silence of fate, of the world when the sun was dead, the silence of the stars and the void and the madness and Edward felt a kind of basic itch that ran through his nerves like a shot of drug, a flame of something miserable. Adrenaline and piss, pure and lit.

And there was no silence at all. There were novels of words in the moment.

Poison in the air; drained from Envy but not really drained. Just displaced for the time being.

Inside of me.

Ed wished he were drunk.

Again.

His mouth was so dry.

"I'm really sorry," Ed said, but he could barely understand his own words because he was shaking so fiercely.

"For what? Existing?" Envy barked a laugh.

"No. For this."

In an instant, he swept up a handful of Envy's thick hair and yanked his head backwards.

The homunculus didn't even cry out. The only sounds were the crack his skull made as it collided with the train seat, then the thump of his body as it slumped to the ground.

No protests.

Too hard, perhaps, but Ed had wanted to ensure that Envy was rendered unconscious. He knew being too rough wouldn't kill the Sin, even though it might satisfy Ed's own irresistable urge for violence, but even so, for a time, he couldn't stand to look at what his hands had wrought. He sat still, dead still but for his heavy breathing, tremors racing and lacing through his hands—these hands that were so ready for blood, so willing, so eager.

He'd had to knock Envy out. He'd had no other choice. Edward needed sleep and he couldn't continue to listen to this symphony of novels and poetry on death: miles of prose spewing old hatred and old wounds and old worlds and old civilizations the likes of which one could now only find traces of. Carnage and carnality, sex and sadism. Whose thoughts were whose? Edward didn't want to ask, didn't want to know. He couldn't want those things. He was good. Noble. Virtuous. And he covered his face with his hands and burrowed into himself and the train was shaking and he wanted it to stopstopstopstopstopstop and he didn't want to close his eyes and see demon children, chimeras and evil experiments and people popping out fake eyes and alleys and the Gate and the knowledge that he had to get close to Envy and abuse him so much harder to access the Stone.

He didn't want to hear his mother's voice in his sleep, or Alphonse's siren song. Alphonse. He didn't want to be smart or attractive or talented. He just wanted to be fucking normal.

Normal, bland, and left the fuck alone.

Eventually, the voices subsided and darkness came.

To his own surprise, Ed did not cry himself to sleep.

He did not cry at all.

He did not dream.

When he awoke sometime later, Edward found he could not immediately move due to a crick in his neck and a soreness pervading his muscles. He untangled his arms and lifted his head, rubbing at the predictable indent on his cheek before reaching back to give himself a quick massage. The first thing he noticed—aside from his bodily condition—was that it was still dark out, meaning he couldn't have rested for long. The lights were still on. He was very much still on the train, yet he heard none of the familiar sounds which always accompanied travel on such a vehicle.

The train had stopped.

Ed discovered, much to his delight, that he had no images of violence or sex or any other form of insanity clouding his mind. In fact, his mind felt amazingly clear for that of a person who had just awakened, sane or otherwise. It was as if he'd been switched on, filled with a bolt of energy, and that in and of itself was almost alarming; Ed chose not to dwell on the matter, though. He had enough on his plate.

"Envy, come on. We need to—"

He found himself unable to finish his statement.

Casting a glance off to his side, Edward had expected to see Envy lying in a heap, face obscured by his hair, lids together. His idea of the image had consisted of anything from a general messiness about his person to a puddle of blood pooling beneath Envy's head, and Ed had assumed he would feel somewhat guilty about his decision to end the interaction which he himself had begun by waking Envy up in the first place (desperate as the act had been on his part). He had been prepared for contrition at the poor sight once he had regained enough of his mental faculties for contrition to even exist within his range of emotions. Ed was "together" enough now that he thought he could command himself and the other with relative ease, but.

But Envy was not there.

Ed got to his feet and looked around, finding that the coffee had spilled and lay across a seat like brown-black blood. There was no sign of Envy on this train car, and as Ed looked around and hugged himself against the goosebumps that were lifting his skin in tiny patches, he abruptly saw why those bumps existed. His nerves weren't just fraying and tormenting him; a door had been opened. Gusts of cold night air had begun to pour into the train.

Now Ed had a horrible sinking feeling that he was dreaming.

He remembered falling asleep. He didn't remember dreaming. This seemed like an appropriate place for him to walk out into the night and find himself confronted with some foul golem, a loved one who would proceed to gut him while he witnessed the entire event in horror. Yes, he knew how this one went. On the other hand, Ed could not recall ever having known he was in a dream; in his dreams, he never remembered falling asleep, never remembered his actions directly preceding the onset of the dream. Most dreams did not exist in any timeframe but their own; his skin was prickling and his body was processing information and feeling pain, and those things also suggested that this was very real...

...as did the fact that apparently his dream self was a fool who would walk blindly into any peril and not question absurd shifts in his paranormal surroundings.

He was questioning. He was thinking. This could not be a dream.

"This is Hohenschwangau," said a voice Ed recognized. He nearly jumped from his skin. "I hope you had a pleasant slumber. You need to depart now, though. We're travelling the rest of the way by carriage."

Sosostris seemed to spill onto the train not so unlike the coffee, appearing all at once in skin and hair and skirts, pushing up the steps and into the open door, filling the world with colours and accent and that wickedly soothing voice. As Ed looked on, she coughed into one of her hands, and something creaked behind her. The wind carried her perfumes in, causing Ed to cough and recoil from the intensity of the scents.

"I was so worried about you, Edward," she continued. "I sensed the level of anxiety you were going through. I cleared your mind of it for the time being, but understand that my powers are limited. I'm sorry. Envy's in the carriage already. Come now."

She walked forward, knelt a little, and extended a hand as if to brush Edward's bangs back. He flinched away from the touch. The woman merely smiled her vague, distant smile.

"Your face reminds me of someone, but I don't know who..." Ed stared at her, hard, then squinted, as if by doing so his brain might arrange the pieces of the world he saw before him into something more coherent. More rational.

Sosostris's face...was just a face. A pretty face, and yes, there was something deceptively innocent and almost naive about her eyes that Ed couldn't quite place, but there was no reason to suspect she wore the face of anyone he'd ever seen before. Yet, when he attempted to really focus upon those features, it was if his vision fuzzed at the edges, blurred; he blinked and rubbed at his eyes and felt—ridiculously—as though he were going cross-eyed. The face was a pond that was ever rippling, even when it seemed to be still and placid, and Ed didn't like it.

"...and maybe it is just me going crazy, but I get the feeling I'm not supposed to know. What kind of hocus pocus have you put on my eyes, eh? Same bullshit as is on his?" At that point, Ed did cough. Water streamed from his eyes and sweat flooded down his temples, drenching his face in liquid and salt. Still, he did not turn away.

Lights flickered, flashed. The wind blew.

"I had nothing to do with your homunculus's condition." She rose and turned, crossing her arms beneath her breasts. Ed could not tell if her expression was one of indignation or hurt. Both, perhaps. "I can see why you thought I would have, but think a little more critically, Edward. I know you're not exactly in the best condition for analyzing recent events, but let me ask you this. Do you by chance remember coming across someone—someone who seemed especially fascinated with eyes?"

"I—!"

Edward froze.

And thought.

And remembered.

"N-no. That's not possible!"

"It certainly is," Sosostris corrected. "I'm surprised you weren't so suspicious with that man as you were with me, but I will tell you that I know Tiresias wanted to remove your homunculus's sight for a time so that...well, suffice it to say there are sights that might prove most unpleasant for him. When you see who employs us, you will understand."

"Then it must be that bastard old man!" Ed wiped a splatter of saliva from his lips.

It was filling his mouth, seeping between his teeth like clear foam. Foam. Hatred. Standing behind him like a growing mountain, the shadow loomed, ancient and undying, whispering in the words of the darkness between the stars. Edward breathed heavily and felt claws tapping the base of his spine; one claw, long claw; extended, crawled, sank in. Entering him: the shadow, the thing, the violence; entering his spine and inching towards his brain and hemorrhaging into his heart and pumping, throbbing.

"I never said that. Tiresias has taken a liking to your homunculus, I fear. Not as you may think, but he is...mesmerized. Like a collector who has seen a valuable item. And he wants to protect him. I have no feelings on that matter, but I do want to protect you from yourself." She closed an eye as if winking, but there was no smirk to accompany the movement, and to Edward, it seemed more akin to a wince. "I'm sorry I was condescending before. You raised my ire. You did, but—" and then the smile, long and serpentine "—I knew leaving you two alone together on the ride here was a good idea. I sensed the Stone trying to be reborn. If you can just—"

Ed fell over, collapsing beneath the weight on his back. He grabbed his knees and clutched them, gasping for air; when he glanced behind himself, he saw nothing, but he knew it was there. Permeating his lungs, his veins, every fibre of his being, until he thought if he sliced himself open, he'd bleed shadow. Like the coffee, black— And he was pouring sweat, gushing sweat, and his lips pulled back to sneer and cackle and he said, raggedly, as of a frothy whisper, "What makes you so sure I won't torch this world and everything in it?"

He hadn't meant to say those words, and they weren't his words. And his voice, it wasn't his voice, but tainted, even though the night was him, and the cold air was in him, him, him, and he wanted to cry for this long slide into madness which would most assuredly leave him to wake somewhere, alone, with blood on his hands. He didn't want that. He didn't want this.

This must've been what Envy lived through every single waking hour.

Sosostris was looking at him, looking past him with her cold, impassive gaze. Unsmiling, stoic or grim or Ed couldn't tell what the fuck ever it was, and then she laughed quietly and said, "You know, all my years of motherhood have never mitigated winding up with two children as difficult as yourselves."

She sees it. She must see it, was all Ed could think, because she was looking right at it, right where he felt the chaos that had started to plague him, to consume him like a parasite, and he was afraid, so very afraid, but he couldn't cry out, or ask for help, or say anything, because it was internal, and the life he had to save was his own. If he relied on anyone else, he'd never survive. He had to be an adult. He was not a fucking child and he wanted to tell her that, but if he opened his mouth again, more words not his own would come, would come and sweep into the air.

All at once, the lady raised her hands to her head and began removing the scarves, removing the pins that held her hair in its bun. It fell, black and free, and she ran her fingertips through it and it fell around her face in loose waves that she smoothed out, and Ed wondered what the hell this was about—why hadn't she grabbed him and attempted to escort him away if she wanted him to go?—but suddenly, the pond was no longer rippling.

When he looked at Sosostris anew, Ed saw clearly that which had somehow been masked to him all this time—by sorcery or alchemy or the Gate or will or his own blindness, his own willingness to see something else, someone else. He'd assumed, and his assumptions had paved his visions and she must've wanted that, must've wanted him not to suspect the truth. He hadn't seen. Hadn't wanted to see.

And his blood froze.

The skin was different, darker. The hair was different, darker. The lips were coloured, painted with lipstick. Darker. The features were not the same but they were hers. Hers. The voice ravaged by that incessant cough, that terrible cold; it had been a soothing voice still, annoyingly so, and why shouldn't it have been?

It was the voice of his very own mother.