It was him that I wanted. The way his hair moved as he walked, swinging back and forth like some cheap, glittering hypnotist's watch, he controlled everyone around him without thinking about it, without meaning to, and it made me want him. His amber eyes and his compassionate, "Don't Give A Shit" smile, his graceful impossible steps, his uninhibited power, all of it had to belong to me, had to be around my fingers like the sunbeam hair I wanted to pull out, strand by strand. It made me want to close my hands around his throat and throttle him, to possess him, to make him scream my name when I took him from behind.
I wanted to be in his doting eyes, wanted to because no one else should be able to own the reckless, the uncontrollable. No one else knew how to rein that bucking little pony, and I wanted him, wanted him as the pet at my heel. It was all he could ever hope to earn. It was all I would ever allow him to be.
There was a way to get him there, had to be something lingering beneath the surface, and after long strides, long sessions of throwing glasses and stomping around, long days of ignoring the annoying by calls Lust and Gluttony, the pawing of that idiot Wrath, I picked away the surface enough to glimpse at the solution. It was as dark and foreboding as the fabled Gate, but once I saw it, I knew what I needed to do, knew what could be done with the rest of this little dramatic play.
I would have my pet. I would have my little leashed puppy.
I would have what I desired, what my palette craved.
The way to get anything you want is to exploit a beautiful weakness. Everyone has one, that little red button that sets it all into motion, that rolls the rocks down the hill and lets it turn into a landslide, and it's always so easy to find after a few days of careful, deep observation.
With that little shit, I had several months, and even then I only needed seven seconds to know that his vulnerability was his precious, pathetic little brother.
That, and the Truth.
I had offered him something he couldn't deny, something he couldn't refuse: the blink of salvation and a flesh-and-blood body for his brother hidden in the pages of an ancient tome. No Stone. No tricks. Just this book that had been found, hidden in some town so small that it had no name. He plucked the volume from my fingers eagerly, living fingers running over the cold, wrinkled leather cover before slipping to brittle parchment pages. His amber eyes scanned over the scrolling letters, each one worked so delicately with a spotting quill and thick black ink that blotted at the end of sweeping of words. I watched his mouth water like a damn dog, could hear the stampede of his heart, knew I had him before he could deny it.
"What do you want for it?" he had growled, clutching it to his chest like a teddy bear. His intention to run off with it was written over his face, but I wouldn't let him get three feet; I was already determined, driven, hungry.
"Just let me watch." My eyes hand danced; I couldn't hide it, wouldn't hide it. Not when I was this close in this eleventh hour. "Just let me watch the miracle."
His hand shook as he drew the array, the sweeping circles and the sharp, cruel points, and I couldn't stop staring. He did it like artwork, each movement calculated, each stroke loving, each breath a sacrifice to the greater good. His brother looked at him with as much worry as a steel face could hold, whining out soft little pleas that he didn't have to do it, that they didn't have to trust me (I'm so wounded!), that there were other ways. Even from here, from across the room, I could see the way the golden hairs stood up on the back of my pet's neck at the mention of 'other ways'. "The Philosopher's Stone, Al?" he bitterly hissed, another sweep of the chalk. "Neither one of us can afford that sort of burden."
I let my tongue run over my lips, taste the desire written in there, before I leaned against the cold, damp back wall. My eyes flickered to the tin can, purring low in my throat, a musical with no notes. "Shorty's right, you know." I watched the shoulders arch up, the back tighten as the golden head dipped down in the customary rage that lit up the room. "This might be the last bit of your hope."
I was surprised when the twerp continued to partially ignore me, when he didn't lash out and try to have my head on a pike, when all he did was finish drawing that complicated array. Tossing the slim remains of the chalk aside, he brushed his fingers off, leaving streaks of white dust in lines over the thighs of his dark pants; I stared at them, wondering if the metal was cold enough to radiate through the fabric and chill the air. Golden eyes met silver soul-flares, and I could tell they were contemplating this in this impossibly late moment. How vexing. Couldn't they just get on with it, finish what I set into motion? Or...what they set into motion and I fulfilled? Why did they always have to have those lingering glances, those drawn out moments of... love?
Shudder the thought. Love. I couldn't wait until I was the delightful center of a world composed solely around me, couldn't bide my time anymore as I drew every moment on baited breath.
The sound of the clap was ominous, foreboding, echoing in the small room. He dropped to his knees like the proper worshiper that he was (or would be), and started to press his hands down towards the floor, the white gloves lingering in the air for a minute too long. Hesitation was a killer, but I wouldn't let it slaughter my ideas, my dreams, dammit! I pounced from where I been leaning against the uncomfortable stone wall, closed the distance between us even as I heard that idiot's worried cry of "Brother!" behind me. Like a game of leapfrog, I jumped at him and pressed my chest against his back, forcing him to lurch forward as my face found his golden hair. "Mine now," I hissed, while my hands, half-gloved and eager, found the tops of the shrimp's hands and slammed them against the floor. Everything erupted in light, in a light so bright I swore it seared me, burned me, ignited me like the sun. I was on fire, on fire, we both were, and his hair was the gold that took my vision away.
When I blinked, the Gate stood before us, closed and foreboding, dark and hateful. Every inch of it that was carved was a loving displayed of hate and dread, of crossing over that would put fear into the souls that lingered outside, but I didn't care. I had been inside here, some part of me, some twisted part of me that lingered underneath the surface. I didn't recognize it, couldn't, but that was fine; I knew what it was from rumors, from late night talk over candlelights.
The darkness was a stain on the light, and I relished in the wickedness. I found it...savory. Like the shocked look of placid beguilement on the alchemist next to me. I turned to him, watching him, letting my cold gaze drift over the calmness of his face, over the slopes of his cheeks, over the parted wet lips that seemed almost sexual. From the side, I could see one golden eye, one wide and flat golden eye reflecting the shadow of the Gate across those shimmering irises. Had he ever looked more beautiful? Had he ever looked more wonderful, so perplexed, so humbled and quiet?
"Where..." he whispered, his voice small, small as he was, and I laughed.
"To find your brother," I purred in his ear, fingers on his slender shoulders as I moved to stand behind him. My tongue ran the curve of his ear, slipping over the delicate slope of the shell. "But first, we have to give a sacrifice. Equivalent trade, right? You remember that?" When he didn't move, I grabbed him by the braid and jerked his head in a nod for him, since I pride myself on being "helpful".
"So, what do we have on you that we can exchange?" I strolled around him, walked to the Gate as my hands opened wide, matching the movement of the twin, dark doors. Inside, all those eyes, all those greedy, envious eyes, all of them on us, a million patrons to our little party! I smiled at them, I swept my arm at them, avoiding their wanton hands, their filled mouths that wanted, wanted, wanted.
And I would give. I would be their father, their mother, their God, and I would give.
"I know what we can sacrifice!" I hissed, walking back behind my pet, my puppy with the golden fur. I pushed him forward, shoved him towards the hands, those little fingers, watching them slide through the strands of sunlight. As long as they didn't mess his pretty little face, I didn't care.
He could be their cow, and they could milk him for all that he was, just as long as I got what I wanted in the end.
"You know what I want," I purred, moving to the side of the Gate, digits sliding over the slick surface. I watched their eager hands slide inside, dip into his forehead, disappear beneath the flesh, the bone, knew what pieces they were aching for. Shrimp's head fell back, lips pulled open in a silent scream, his eyes so wide, so wide that the world could fit inside them, I was sure. He seemed like in the throes of the best orgasm in the world, the way his body shook, bucked, the mewling in the back of his throat, and for a moment, I was nearly tempted to ask the same of me just so I could share in the feeling.
But that was the nature of Envy, I suppose, always wanting what everyone else had. After all, it's what brought me here.
I watched the black shadowy arms slide free as the door eased closed with an expected bang, and I let my eyes run over his body to make sure it was in tact, complete; after all, that wasn't what the deal was. He dropped to his knees in a loose heap, the metal creaking as it bent and let nuts and bolts align itself in a new position; mmm, what a delicious sound. My fingers ran over his hair, ran through the lengths, and I smiled down at him as he blinked slowly, eyes rolling up to me slowly, lethargically. It was so beautiful, all that, all those movements, all underwater slowness that made me ache.
"What did you...do?" he whispered, delicate shock in his tone. Disbelief was a stunning expression, really, the way it humbled; it brought out the best in everyone.
I snatched away the band that held his careful plait, raking my fingers through it as I smiled. Did his brother braid his hair for him every day, do it to get it so even, so perfect, or were the shrimp's fingers just that good? I was intrigued, excited to find out. "Equivalent exchange does not always leave to the physical. Mental aspects can be stolen, eroded, tainted."
"What did you do?!" he repeated, screamed, shrieked, tearing away from my fingers. His teeth were bared, primal and deadly, promising, and it made me lust for him, funny that.
"Shut up, pet," I purred, content as I saw his mouth slam shut, lips sealed. His eyes widened in shock, so helpless, so ideal and fitting there on his knees. How his desire to overthrow me was brimming in his eyes, hateful, detesting, but oh, how I could get his devotion, his adoration if only I wished it. It was such a beautiful, fulfilling notion. "It's starting to come to you, isn't it? It's starting to come into that teeny, tiny brain of yours just what they took, isn't it?"
His head shook, slowly, so slowly, and when he tried to speak, he couldn't make the pathetic sounds. I couldn't tell if he was being dense or if he just didn't want to admit it to himself, but either way, it was so enjoyable to watch him struggle, to watch him doubt himself. I could admire this all day, and would soon when we were back home, back with some privacy. I really would have to get rid of that damn brother of his.
I could feel the ethereal plane we were on dissolving even as I smirked down at him, grinned with all my teeth. Damn, and just when we were having fun, too! I closed the distance, narrowed the gap until my lips were brushing over his parted mouth with every breath I took.
"I let them take away your free will," I hissed, before the world imploded on itself.
I ignored the groaning lump of new flesh when we came out on the array we had left on, my hands still threaded in my puppy's hair, nails digging into his scalp. I allowed the shrimp to look at his brother, at the flesh and blood he had become in the trade for something so simple, allowed him that one glance to last him a lifetime, let him know that indeed, his brother was whole and gorgeous and oh-so-real; no one can say that I wasn't at least a little thoughtful, right?
A heartbeat later, I jerked my head towards the door. "Come." I would never stop feeling that strange feeling of contentment as the sweet sounds of footsteps went to obey my orders.
"B-Brother?" slipped the soft whisper, cutting through the air, murdering it, and I felt the moment of hesitation from my beast before he continued walking. I could hear flesh on concrete, that soft slapping, shuffling, and if I turned around, I know I would see the body of my pet's brother, naked as the day he had been shoved, wailing, into this world; after all, coming back from There didn't mean you came with clothes.
"Brother!" came the frantic scream, but my shrimp didn't, couldn't look back. I pushed him forward, let him disappear up the stairs with his head down, his trembling fists curled at his sides, his steps loud before they were swallowed by the distance. I turned on a slow foot, regarding the former-tin-can with a skeptical eye, watching the way he leaned, panting against the wall, sagging against the cold cement. He was panting, cheeks pink, probably running a fever; that's what one gets for over-exerting oneself, the little stupid brat.
"Where is he going?! What did you do to him?!" He lurched forward one step, stumbled, caught the wall, threatened to fall again. Clumsy idiot. "Tell m—"
I smiled; I had won, after all, so why wouldn't I? I grinned like a cat on cream, purred and waved a hand behind me as I began to climb the stairs. "Equivalent trade. Your brother loved you more than I think you even realized."
Somewhere behind me, I heard a lingering scream of denial, sweet beautiful grief. I drank it as I rounded the corner and laid wanton eyes on my pet, my pet that hated its master so. Fool. I strolled past him, out of the house, my finger curling to beckon him silently. The shrimp would learn.
If not, I could always change that.