chapter 31.

A cold cloth touched his forehead, then lowered to wipe away the sweaty moisture and vanishing blood droplets that had clung to the skin of his back, neck, and shoulders. Ed seemed penitent, of course. He was as predictable in his guilt as he was in anything else, but for a change his contrition was of the thoughtful, quiet kind. Surely the brat knew there was more to this situation than lust or anger; there were forces at work here that Envy had only ever had the briefest taste of, yet still he recognized their source of power. Fireworks went off inside Envy's head, rattling and crackling inside his skull; spirals of light shattered behind his eyelids and poured into his vision. Like a dropped item rising to the surface of a pond, reality rose in front of Envy, coming out of the still darkness in a myriad of colours, shapes, and movements.

"That's the only way to beat the Gate, you know. It can't always be bargained with, but you can crush it into submission. I...I don't give a shit what any fucking human says. Science won't work here."

Pain whispered gently behind his eyelids. Envy blinked at the solidifying world, then closed his eyes against it. The light hurt. It was overwhelming, and the damned room probably wasn't even that well lit.

Envy clutched his head—holding one hand against his temple—and shook it bitterly.

He had the sneaking suspicion that Edward wasn't really listening to him, given his blatant lack of a response. The kid was off in his own little world. Envy was sure of that much, at least. Why the fuck did he do that? It drove Envy mad.

"Listen to me, you bastard! Listen to me!"

Envy sat up as Ed's weight settled between his legs, easing him downwards. He struggled upwards against that warm pressure, opening his eyes to a surprising sight.

Edward's head had lowered, hair covering his face, but Envy could follow the direction of his gaze—the little, delicate patterns of his fingers as he dabbed Envy's thighs, wiping off the dried come that had stuck to him. Envy froze, staying completely still as Ed's fingers brushed his groin, touching his flaccid cock and sweeping along a vein. Butterflies congregated in Envy's stomach. He held back a gulp, craving silence; he was afraid he would get hard all over again, but he was more afraid of the things he felt. Or, to put it another way, he was afraid of feeling anything.

When these feelings came, they were intense, and he couldn't describe them except to say it felt as though his body wanted to undo itself and sew its skin anew, as if his nerves wanted to sing and flip, as if his blood thought it could flow backwards, and his heart and spirit and mind wanted, in a flash, to erase the years and the hate and the trails of gore.

He wanted, if only briefly, to forget everything and himself. He wanted to dive into the water and close his eyes and let the current of his passion carry him off. Water to wash away those sins, those tired and hurting places; water to erode those sharp edges of his psyche, because if his life had been different, he could've been Edward. Could've been, could've been. But he'd never had a chance. How could he have turned out differently, with only Dante to guide him? And it was all the bastard's fault for abandoning him, because he could've given him a better life (in as much as a homunculus could have a life), and for four centuries, Envy had been content with the life he'd lived, but now he'd come face to face with...

With everything he could have been.

And though he said nothing and did nothing and though no tears spilled, he wanted to weep not for what he'd lost, but for what he'd never had.

The glass by which to see his ruined, destroyed existence was held up in front of him and the weight of so many worthless days was catching up and catching up quickly. He was right. He'd been right. He had to have been right, and everything had to have been the correct course of action, but it was getting hard to be sure of that when everyone else seemed to think otherwise. Before, if anyone had disagreed with his beliefs, he'd just killed them off, but having to sit and listen to Edward for so long? It was...detrimental to his self-assurance. Because while Envy had no intention of ever saying it aloud, the stupid little fuck was pretty good at explaining his reasoning and his beliefs, but they were so radically opposed to all that Envy had ever been taught, so they had to be Wrong, because Envy's entire existence rested on being Right. And if he wasn't Right—

Then his life was a waste.

Doesn't know I can see, does he?

Ed's own eyes were hidden, but Envy saw tears streaming down his cheeks.

Silent tears, shed for someone else, the identity of whom Envy could guess without difficulty, but perhaps also tears of relief. If the pressure of their connection had diminished for Envy, then it must've diminished for Ed. The intensity of their coupling had, for the time being, overwhelmed the Gate's hold on them, the magic's hold on them, and Envy knew it sure as he knew he was breathing.

The answer was there before them. It'd been there all along.

"Look at me, Edward," Envy said, his voice a silky whisper. He felt absurdly patient for the moment, though it was probably more a matter of being drained than of anything like acquiescence. He hadn't been himself for a while. He might not be himself again soon. He might not be himself again ever. In fact, he wasn't even sure what constituted himself any longer. "I can see again, so you need to look at me, you bastard."

That succeeded in getting Ed's attention.

"You can? Seriously?" He jerked his head up, shaking a little.

Tense. Shocked. Confused. Envy could read him so easily after sex.

And then Ed looked annoyed, lips twisting, pinching, as if Envy's regained sight had invaded on his own private moment. It had, hadn't it? And Envy couldn't help but allow himself a secretive sneer, narrowing his eyes while Ed huffed in a sigh and shook his head. "What're you crying about? Huh?"

A negligible shrug. "Nothing that concerns you. What were you saying earlier?"

Envy's sneer died. He was thinking about him, wasn't he? His brother. His fucking brother. His brother, who was always between them, no matter what, and even if the little fucker tried not to dwell on him, he did. And Envy hated him, and hated Edward for thinking about him, because it wasn't like Ed shared, like he even fucking cared to share. No, that was his private world of internal misery, and he wouldn't let Envy in, wouldn't tell him what he was thinking, wouldn't let anyone or anything into the world that he and his fucking little brother had made. It reminded Envy that he was an Outsider, that he would always be an Outsider. Reminded him that they were the bastard's trueborn sons, the sons he'd loved, together in their happy bullshit and their affection, and he despised them both.

He seethed, momentarily rendered mute by rage. When he got his strength back, he swore he would cut out their fucking tongues and slit their throats and watch until there was no blood left in them.

Silence. Silence. Silence. Silence.

Envy sighed and, feeling empty, said,


There was more Envy wished to say to express his disdain and dismissal, but his anger was so thorough as to be numbing.

It was easier to pretend that he didn't care, anyway.

"Did it just wear off, or what? Did the...did whatever was wrong with your vision just expire? Do you even know?" Ed sat up straight, pausing in his cleaning to wipe his own face and push his hair back as if he'd suddenly become self-conscious about his appearance. Then, he looked down at himself, blushing a little and chewing his lip, presumably over the fact that he was naked.

Envy wanted to roll his eyes at the stupid absurdity of it all; I've seen you naked plenty of times, you fucking moron, he started to say, but then it occurred to him to inspect his own state of being. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw his black shorts and the accompanying black wrap sitting in an inconspicuous little pile on one side of the bed, along with the short shit's ugly brown and white clothes. Envy sniffed and scratched the edge of his nose.

Envy took a few seconds to grind his teeth together before shoving away from Ed and lying down, jerking the covers up to his chest. This was infuriating. Why the hell didn't Ed just understand what he was trying to convey? He wasn't good at talking. He wasn't good at explaining things. Better yet, why the hell hadn't Ed been the one to figure this out in the first place? It was Ed's duty to discover shit like this. This wasn't Envy's territory. It made him more than uncomfortable.

"I don't like feeling as though someone else is taking control of my body, or trying to," Ed admitted. "I don't like feeling that the Gate is trying to control me, or that she is, or that you are."

Envy didn't know how to respond. He took the opportunity to examine his surroundings with his new eyesight. The room was certainly elaborate, topping even Dante's most luxurious bedrooms. Across the upper part of the walls, images ran, depicting a tale of lovers, though Envy wasn't sure which tale or which lovers were being represented. He'd never been good at figuring that stuff out from pictures. The sheets and curtains of the bed were not merely blue, as he saw now. Rather, they were blue and decked out in patterns to accompany the surrounding illustrations. Shapes and patterns marked every inch of the room; rich mahogany, carved in the Gothic style. Below the painted segments, crosses and arches and lines of both vertical and horizontal nature gave emphasis to the height of the walls.

The room had a certain Old World look to it which Envy had rarely encountered in years and years. Candelabras, the soft glow of a lit chandelier, a mirror encased within elegant carvings, ornate silver and pewter flagons (along with a swan motif) at the washing basin, carpeted floors; the bed was slightly raised on a platform, there was a footstool and a chair of matching upholstery which Envy supposed Ed had been sitting in while he'd been eating, and there—one look over the edge of the bed proved it—was the plate of dumplings, still mostly intact, though one or two had spilled.

"Disgusting," Ed remarked, and at first, Envy thought he was referring to the goddamned dumplings. But not so: "I can't believe we're staying at a place like this while there's a war going on and there are people out there sleeping in the streets. Makes me sick."

Envy swung his legs off the edge of the bed and grabbed the plate from the floor. He wanted to mock Ed for being such a dumbass, but there was time for that in a minute. Right now, he needed to know something.

"So who just fucked me, anyhow?"

Ed gave him a funny look.

"Well, you heard me, midget. Who just fucked me? You said yourself that sometimes forces take hold of you and you're not really you, so if you're not you, then who are you? Did you just fuck me? Did the Gate just fuck me? Are you going to sit here and tell me that I just fucked myself up my own ass? Hmm?"

Envy twisted a dumpling back and forth, pinching it between his long, graceful fingers.

"Not sure."

"Not sure?" Envy raised an eyebrow and absently ran his tongue along the dumpling. "So fucking the Shorty now entails an orgy, or sex with a stranger?"

"I don't see why it matters," Ed replied. From his tone and the way he looked away to feign distraction (feigning it obviously was), this topic of conversation still made him manifestly uncomfortable.

"You're unbelievable, Elric. Why is it that you can pork me all day long, but then you can't say a word about it afterwards? And you think I'm weird. Fucking freak."

"That's a ridiculous word."

"Freak? Fucking? Weird?"

"Pork. That's a ridiculous word. You make it pigs."

"Pork, ream, fuck, dick, cock, pussy, cunt—"

"I bet you learned those from Greed, right? Is that a good thing to you, being compared to Greed? And if there was supposed to be a point to what you just said, it went right past me, Envy. Right. Past. Me."

Envy didn't know what he was driving at either, really. In fact, he felt a trifle ridiculous. His body had managed something of a purging, a catharsis by which he had (for the nonce) severed his connection to the Gate and to Edward and it was surely no small coincidence that his vision had returned just when his head had cleared; his pain had crawled away to lie in wait, or so it seemed, and this felt rather like the calm before a storm. Nonetheless, now that he was sitting here feeling better and generally more improved, he was...licking dumplings and listing off sexual slang?

No, wait. He was getting distracted. That's what it was. That's exactly what the fuck it was. Ed was distracting him off the topic, as he always did.

"You could read an anatomy book and talk about penes and vaginas all day, but talk about them together—or talk about two of either kind together—and you turn colours. Explain to me how the fuck that's logical. I dare you."

"Penises. I think the word is penises."

"Both are right!" Envy snapped, eye twitching. He felt sorely tempted to hurl the food at Ed and then bash his skull in with the plate. "Penes! Penises! Reddish things you stick in asses. Unless the person you're fucking is a hypocritical shit smear like...oh, who the fuck am I talking about here? But if you try to sleep in bed with me... it's not like I have any moral objections to rape."

And he grinned and inserted the dumpling into his mouth. The second time around, the flavour did not seem as overpowering, maybe because he was expecting it, or maybe because the blood he'd tasted had adequately prepared Envy's not very oft-utilized taste buds for the experience.

"You don't have to convince me that you have no moral objections to anything. Trust me, you've proven that. But I'm not afraid of you." Ed knuckled the side of his face and head, making some attempt to brush his messy hair and clean away the sweat. "So if this is supposed to be your version of chest-beating...well, needless to say I'm unimpressed."

Envy chewed slowly. Slowly. Then, after a long pause, he swallowed. "Maybe you should be afraid."

He could no longer feel himself grinning. Not even a little.

"I don't think so. I've spent a lot of time with you. I know you better than you'd care to admit, and maybe better than yourself in some ways. Right now, the most terrifying thing in the world to me is the prospect of what I don't know. Nothing could ever scare me as much as myself."

It was not lost on Envy that Edward had once again tidily swept the matter of sexual discussion under the rug, as he consistently did after a tumble. Normally, this would've been nothing more than an annoyance and a curiosity, an issue to persistently mock the kid about as his face fought over which shade of red to wear. But circumstances being what they were, it felt completely fucking reckless and just generally moronic and prude-ish for Ed not to confess what he'd felt, what he'd thought, who or what he'd been, himself or otherwise. Even having their minds linked together had only produced more questions for Envy; each answer seemed to become a goddamned question.

"You know what, Ed? You know what? Shut the fuck up. Just shut the fuck up! What the fuck do you know about war? What the fuck do you know about poverty or despair? What the fuck do you know about me? All you want to do is run your fucking mouth. You like to talk about all kinds of hee-larious shit you know nothing about, except the subject of dicks and asses is" Envy stopped, plate of food forgotten. He didn't know where he was going with this. "As soon as you get back from wherever you're going, I'm going to hold you down and fuck you into oblivion. You hear me, Edward?"

Ed shrugged and lifted his chin, looking entirely unshaken by the threat, which only pissed Envy off all the more. "Maybe you'll get that chance," he said, sounding completely serious and even and deadpan, "if I don't hack you into little pieces and shove you in a freezer first."

Envy began to reply, then realized he had no idea what the fuck to say to that, then realized how angry and upset and depressed and turned on (and angry, especially angry) this conversation was making him, and then, then he realized how entirely stupid this whole discussion was, how exaggerated and insane this whole fucking situation between them had gotten and suddenly.

Suddenly all he could do was laugh.

Bellowing, cackling laughter. Envy didn't know what had possessed him. He hadn't laughed so quickly and so hard in years and years; the last incident was lost to the depths of his memory. Maybe his nerves had finally just snapped and torn apart, but he discovered that all he could do was laugh, his whole body trembling with the force of it. He tried to swallow it down, to hide it (because surely Ed was still looking on), but the more he attempted suppression, the more intense it became, until Envy found himself on his knees, face buried into the pillow, stomach jumping, fists pounding the mattress.

He'd only ever wanted to kill that bastard, Hohenheim, and the little shrimp who had replaced him, but somehow he'd ended up getting fucked by him repeatedly instead. Ed wanted to talk endlessly, but not about that. No, he could suck a cock, but he could barely bring himself to say the word. What the fuck. And now he was going to get psychotic and whack Envy up with a meat cleaver, the Shorty was going to do that! What the fuck! Goddamn. It was so goddamned funny.

Envy'd only ever wanted to lay waste to humanity and all human civilization, but he'd been crushed and set on fire. When he and Ed had tried to go home, the Gate had ripped them apart. What the fuck. What the fuck kind of track record of bad luck was this turning into? Envy found himself wondering if he stepped out of bed, would the chandelier drop and stab him through the eye? Or crush him? Or maybe the dumplings would poison them both. Envy collapsed into hysterics; tears streamed down his cheeks and his sides ached, and somewhere in the background, he heard Ed's shocked, quiet voice saying, "What the hell are you laughing about? There's nothing funny here, Envy."

But that only made Envy cackle harder; oh fuck, he wanted to stop, but he couldn't. He couldn't. And despite Ed's understated outrage, Envy heard him crack a rough, quick chuckle. Then another. "Cut it the..." Laugh. "...fuck..." Wheeze. "...out..." Pant. "...Envy..."

Envy thought his back was going to break, and to make it worse, he was sure all this emotion and his current position would make him horny all over again. Centuries of intense death and pain and murder and torture; torture he'd received and torture he'd given. He wanted to give more, maybe even receive more. And his laughter was both pure sadistic glee and something light and nearly childish, the kind of nasally neener neener he'd perfected over time. Such was his contradictory nature and the nature of his persona, apparent even in his choice of youthful, "cute" appearance and the brutal violence he'd wrought with his delicate hands.

Eventually, Ed had broken down, too, and they both just lay there, squirming and gasping for air, though Ed was still trying to talk, still trying to reprimand Envy for his bizarre meltdown, but he couldn't hold back his own chortles and he snorted when he tried—which only made things infinitely worse.

Sometimes the pain and despair was so intense that you had to laugh to keep from crying.

Or so Envy'd heard. It had never actually happened to him before; back when he'd had his powers, he'd been in absolute control of his body, save for the times when Dante had manipulated it or him, save for the times when he'd been forced to pretend. But now his form was learning all kinds of new tricks and sensations. Eventually, his breath wore out and he lay there, waiting for Ed to finish.

It was then when—feeling temporarily high and relaxed and surreal—Envy felt the hand in his hair.

At first, he didn't recognize it for what it was.

When he did, whatever laughter was left in him was promptly silenced. He looked over at Ed.

They looked at each other.

Ed, sixteen—probably nearing seventeen—and glorious. The kid looked as good as he had the day Envy had first seen him. Older now. Firmer. Taller and not as round-faced. His features were sharpening, maturing. His body had muscles, strength; Ed was yellows and golds and the occasional dark pink or red, when he flushed or when his face was hot, and there seemed to be something of red all throughout his pores, even deprived of that lousy cloak he'd once worn. Envy thought he looked irritatingly, attractively innocent. Breathless, mesmerized, eyes narrowed, touching without thinking. That was Edward in that moment: new and sweaty and naked, with his lips parted just barely, a smirk failing from where he'd just given himself over to riotous laughter. And his eyes were bright. Charged.

Touching, petting Envy's hair.

Ed was only ever that affectionate when Envy was in desperate pain or need, or when he himself was too unguarded to check his own behaviour. The latter was plainly the case here.

Envy hadn't told him to fuck off yet. He didn't have to. Once the look of comprehension dawned on Ed's features, he jerked back with a faint grimace. Just as well, Envy thought. Saved him the effort of getting tense and growling, which he was obligated to do when the asshole touched him like that—like he could give shit about him, but Envy knew better, oh yes, he did. Elrics only ever cared for themselves.

At that moment, Ed just happened to need to violently cough and clear his throat a few times, it seemed.

Envy said, "Heh."

"So what were you saying earlier? About overloading something? You never really explained. Are you trying to say—" Ed looked over, shooting the room's main door a distrustful glare. Then, he looked at Envy again, and said, in a conspiratorial whisper, "—that we can fix our problem from here? Are you ever going to give me a straight answer in this fuckin' lifetime?"

Envy winced and gave Ed a dirty look. Talking. He wasn't good at that goddamned talking thing. Every fiber of his being screamed at him to just reach over and punch and kick the brat in the face a few times. That'd get a point across. Some kind of point. Maybe not the exact point he was currently struggling to accumulate the words for...

Ed disregarded Envy's look and briefly returned his attention to the door once again. This action was not lost on Envy, who quickly surmised that Ed was expecting a knock at any moment now. Well, that explained a lot. Earlier, the shorty had mentioned something about a meeting, hadn't he? But both he and Envy had been forbidden to leave the room. It hadn't occurred to Envy to think too deeply into those two statements; he hadn't noticed the apparent contradiction or felt any particular need to reconcile the ideas, but now everything clicked into place smoothly and swiftly.

As Ed reached for his clothing, a thought slammed into Envy.

He was already beginning to strain and break a sweat from the effort of trying to think up some way to convey his conclusions to Edward without cursing him out at every turn or getting distracted by some kind of anti-Elric tirade, and then it hit him: he didn't have to. Why the fuck did he need to tell Ed what he'd decided? He could just demonstrate!

Envy snickered and snapped his fingers triumphantly.

"—the hell?" Ed managed to grunt out as Envy leapt across the bed, closing the space between them. He straddled the surprised blond, one leg on either side, and licked his lips as he ran his hands down Ed's smooth, muscular chest and abdomen. The flesh leapt beneath his roaming fingers and Ed jerked his hips as if trying to throw Envy off, though it felt like a half-hearted effort. His expression was apprehensive, but curious; interested, Envy thought with a confident smirk. One raised eyebrow, mouth caught in a silent oh. Ed's bangs were still messy from their earlier hump; when he threw his head back (or when Envy knocked the air out of him), Envy could follow the muscles on his neck and trace the sight of pulsing veins and arteries. How many such had he slit over the years?

With those bright, bright eyes looking foggy and dazed (intoxicated, as if they were back to the night when the brat had gotten drunk off his short ass), somehow Edward always, always made post-coital bliss and pre-coital arousal look like something more powerful and beautiful than it was—higher, like a prayer or a blessing or an instant of victory. Like his soul was forever in the process of lifting from his eyes, always just beneath the surface and always ready to breach the skin and float into the heavens. Gorgeous. Envy wondered if his eyes ever looked the same.

"—the hell—the fuck're you doing, Envy?"

"Shut up!" Envy laughed and shifted his weight, shoving a knee into Ed's gut when he tried to sit up and throw him off. No, no, fuck that. Envy knew if Ed really wanted him off, he'd be on his ass already, but Ed wasn't fighting back like he could. Maybe he wanted it. Maybe curiosity was getting the better of him. Maybe he was just stunned. Envy clapped his hands and rubbed Ed again, eyes rolling back at the feel of those fluid, rippling muscles. Hard and tight. His fingers wanted to melt in the hot flesh, to fuse with it. He moaned and laughed, already hard again and ready for more. "Alchemy, Ed. This shit is the finest alchemy you'll ever see. It's in us. In our hearts. In our blood."

Envy touched his chest, indicating the array that remained concealed by his top. "Well, fuck me running...what do we have here? I'm a fucking array. I'm a fucking Stone. You're a fucking alchemist. And we're both full of blood...alchemical, magical blood. Getting the picture yet?"

"Other liquids, too," Ed said. Sounded like he wasn't really hearing himself, though. He looked back to the door. "So let me get this straight...they...they must've left us here because they knew we'd...our bodies would..."

"Well, we sure as fuck weren't left here to get comfortable, pipsqueak. The Gate wants pain. The Gate wants blood." Envy grinned tensely, lopsidedly, then said, seriously, "I don't think you ever told me what someone said the price is for getting the Stone back—"

Ed looked up at his paramour and a guilty look flickered across his face. He opened his mouth to speak, but Envy pressed a finger to his lips.

"—but I know what it is. And maybe I'll pay it. Maybe I won't. Heh. I've had worse. Could be that it won't come to needing it."

Ed had had the right idea on the train, when he'd woken Envy up. Envy'd had the right idea when his body had craved sex so intensely in this bedroom, when the act had pushed them together even as it had torn them apart; like magnets whose polarities were constantly reversing, clinging and then breaking. This was right. This was necessary. And even if it hurt, even if it felt like their insides were tearing apart and their molecules were being re-arranged, this was what had to be done. Payment in sweat and blood and tears and come. Paying with their bodies, like a sacrifice. Like a prayer.

"And how many times do we have to do this?"

"How the fuck should I know?" Envy answered, irritated. "Until I feel it. Until there's a breakthrough. Otherwise, you're back to nuts and I could go blind again. Needs to be intense...unexpected."

"The Gate isn't just about chemistry. You said so yourself. It wants emotions. Pain. Perseverance. I-I don't think this is enough. Sex. I don't think sex is."

"You think I don't fucking know that? I'm not stupid, you little shit. Of course it's not enough. We can't just fuck our way out of shit or else we would've already. But it's a start."

Envy leaned down and began to nip Ed's neck. Then, more harshly, he bit his shoulders, feeling Ed gasp and writhe beneath him. He smiled into the skin as his teeth nibbled, biting hard enough to leave red prints. Envy purred delightedly at the multitude of reactions he could get with so little effort. He had control. He could play Edward like an instrument, and he loved it. After biting down Ed's chest and leaving a trail of darkening, angry pink in his wake, Envy let a rumbling growl hang low in his throat. Lust was already clouding his eyes, his mind, his senses.

"So, you've said you had compassion for me—" Envy pulled away and sat up, running a hand through his long hair. "—assuming, for a second, that I don't think you're full of shit—you think you'd still have compassion for me if you knew all the things I've done, if you saw 'em? If you'd been there? If you knew, really knew?"

Envy grinned so hard that it became strained and his cheeks hurt. Ed looked away. Envy took hold of his chin and urged his attention back to the scene at hand.

"Well, Ed?"

Ed swatted Envy's hand away and shook his head. Envy relaxed his expression, lessening it to a smirk.

"No. No, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. In fact, sometimes even hearing you hint about it makes me want to break your jaw. But we don't have to worry about that, do we?" His gaze was cold. Icy. "Because that's all in the past, and whether you want to fuckin' admit it or not, you're a different person now. That was Then. This is Now. I don't forgive you for the things you've done, but I don't have to. You've suffered enough. Equivalent exchange."

Ed stopped and shook his head again, then continued, somberly, words slurred by lust, "I saw some of it before. Some of your past. Your life. Your mind. You know that, I'm sure, but I think I should tell you that I tried to keep it out of me as much as possible. Your secrets are yours to keep, and your past—sordid as it is—is yours to have and tell as you want. If you're not going to tell me shit, then I don't want to hear it, don't want to see it. So...I learned some things. About you. But I'm going to make myself forget them, and I'll do my best not to let that knowledge affect anything I say or do towards you, all right? It'll be like I never knew. I think that's fair."

What a load of bullshit. Envy knew better. No matter what Ed said, Envy was sure the prick was treating him differently because of aspects of his personality he'd picked up on when they'd been bound together. Stupid bastard was all talk. Talk, talk, talk. That's all he ever fucking wanted to do.

Envy shrugged, signalling that it was time for a change of subject (partly because he had no good reply for what he'd just heard and partly because he was already sick of hearing it), and frowned petulantly. Knees on either side of Ed, he squeezed, tightening his thighs' grip on Ed's mid-section. He put his hands down on the bed and pushed backwards, leaning back to give his lover a good view of all the naked flesh on display. No sound from Edward, but when Envy looked closer, he saw that he was flushed deeply, sweat droplets beading around his temples, chewing his lip as if he'd explode were he to let the noise free. He was breathing heavily through his nose.

"Nice sight, don't you think?" A soft chuckle—from himself.

Oh, yes. Sex. Envy could handle sex just fine. Violence may have been his area of expertise and the place where his truest desires and needs shone through, but just as he had to be skilled in murder and death, he'd also needed to be an expert actor where handing out pleasure was concerned. He'd played the whore so many times that the lines and movements came to him without much conscious effort. Like breathing. Natural, like rain or seasons.

Humans had sex. That's what they did. Even in the worst human conditions—even in the most terrible wars Envy had ever witnessed and been a part of, sex endured. Despair gave way to loveless, bleak sex. Despair gave way to powerful sex. Even torn apart, people came together. Sex was important to humans and it'd never been important to Envy before, except as a tool, but now it was something more. Sex had become a kind of worship of the nameless god that was life. The bed was their altar. This was consecration.

Envy reached down and fingered his chest through the tight fabric of his top, taking the time to pinch and twist his hard nipples to the point of pleasurable pain, knuckling the nubs until he had to bite back a moan. Yes. He'd performed before, countless times, but it'd been just that: performing. Adopting a role. Fucking in this form was like feeling his skin—feeling his body's potential—for the first time. It'd always been his form, his perfect form. His. Truly his. And he was owning it, taking it back.

The thought made him feel powerful. Confident. Self-aware. Strong.

Rape defined his existence, but he could take his identity back. This was how.

He'd show the Gate and all those fuckers just how much he wasn't a tool!

"Hold on and hold tight," he instructed, which won a quizzical look from those clouded golden eyes. Envy sucked in a deep breath and dragged his knuckles down his taut abdomen hard—hard enough that if he were a human, red would've probably risen for a while. He paused long enough to stroke his cock a few times, savouring the hot burn of the friction produced by his rough gloves. "Got it?"

No, Ed didn't. Envy could see that. But he would in a moment.

He rocked back on his heels, toes curling as he brushed the tip of Ed's cock against his ass. So many nerve endings! If only that bitch could see him now: having his way with her precious toy, and having Edward consenting to it (wanting it, wanting him, needing him; the sincerest form of flattery). She wasn't here. She was gone. Dead. Done for! She wasn't here. She wasn't here, and Envy was determined to make himself forget, to fuck until he'd forgotten. When his mind was on doing something productive, contemplating getting the fuck out of this mess, then his heart stopped its endless ache.

Envy reached down and stuck his fingers into his ass, going about doing the usual preparation work.

That—as he'd predicted—prompted a full-throated moan from Edward.

Good. That bastard had better think this was a good show. That bastard had better think he looked good while he fumbled about and wiggled and rubbed and poked around his ass. Of course, Envy didn't finger himself for long; his ass, despite its tightness, had always been rather pliant (maybe owing to that good old homunculus nature, again), and he had a high threshold and a high tolerance for sexual pain. Hell, half of the time, the pain enhanced the experience. He couldn't let pain dominate him, anyway. That's what she'd want.

Envy lowered his ass, moistening the cleft with the wet slit of his lover's cock. Back. Forth. Back. Forth.

And suddenly Ed's hands were on Envy's thighs—clutching, accidentally scraping with broken fingernails, squeezing. Edward, being young, appeared to have a considerable amount of sexual stamina. His cock was fully erect already; didn't take long, and his panting sounded as if it might edge into raw and desperate territory at any moment.

Envy thought he really should've just fucked him up the ass, but no. Not until Ed asked for it, demanded it, begged for it. That would be more satisfying...if he accepted it, whined for it and pleaded. That was what Envy wanted and nothing short of that would appease him.

He decided to take Ed into him in measures, little by little. Might as well prolong the torment, the slow burn.

Envy closed his eyes and exhaled deeply, leaning back in thoughtless wonder as he began to slide his ass down over Ed's cock. It pushed in; slowly, so slowly. Breaching, penetrating, setting fire to Envy's nerves. He wanted that warm fullness, but not yet. After a reflexive clench, Envy took another breath and eased upwards again, parting their bodies. He gripped the sheets tensely, holding them hard enough that his arms trembled from the effort of supporting his weight.

Predictably, the moment Envy lifted himself and opened his eyes, he found his ears greeted to a chorus of half-formed gasps and groans. He felt Ed's hand touch his hot stomach; tentatively at first, then forcefully, massaging in slow circles. A finger pressed into the perfect oval of Envy's navel, slowly making its way downwards, tearing through sweat droplets.

"Just a little more," Envy said; his voice was hollow, almost bereft of breath, but electric. Like his body was full of sparks, sparks even between his teeth.

Another dip. This time Envy took him as deeply as the head; he lingered there for a few heavy seconds, relishing the raw, searing friction. He never thought—never imagined—that his body would fit together so well with the boy who was his enemy, the son of Hohenheim. It was crass, disgusting, but somehow thinking of it like that only made Envy's insides ache all the more with pulsing, limitless craving. He pulled off again, though it was not without some effort.

Envy heard his name. He tried to snicker at that, but it didn't come out right; more like a rasp. He looked down, surveying his enemy, his conquest. Edward, Edward, Edward. Edward, whose cock was stiff and swollen and weeping. Edward, who never shone more than when draped by a thin sheen of sweat. Hair matted, eyes narrowed, face scrunched up in places with exertion, and his hips were moving eagerly and he was making sounds and Envy was making sounds, but they weren't coherent now; not words, but feelings. Shadowy, silhouetted feelings. This was dialogue Envy understood. This was his identity. This was who he was.

The bastard couldn't take that from him. The bitch couldn't take that from him. Not even Edward could take certain things.

Envy felt a hand on his ass. Squeezingurgingpleading. The hand moved up, rubbing the small of his back. Coaxing and encouraging, steadying him as he wobbled a little. Ed's other hand, meanwhile, encircled Envy's cock and moved rhythmically. Slow, hard strokes. He thumbed a vein and Envy hissed, descending a final time and aligning them. He reached down to steady himself and manually position their parts accordingly, and with a sadistic grin, he gave the tangle of coarse blond hairs a few scratching rubs, letting his nails flatten the patch.

That caused Ed to jerk upwards with a loud whine, as if a bullet had just shot up his spine.

"Down, boy," Envy instructed, chewing back another burst of laughter. He licked his lips. Time for the final slide. "Now. I want you to work for this, Edward. Don't just lie back and take it. I'm so hard up right now. I'm so hard, see? I want you to pound me until I come. Make it hurt. Make it tear. Make—"

Make me forget, he started to say, but caught himself.

"—make it good. Intense. All right? All right."

And then a wicked smile twisted Ed's face. "Are you sure?"

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Of course I'm sure. I wouldn't have fucking said it, otherwi—"

Ed grabbed his hips, hard, and jerked downwards, burying himself to the hilt in one quick, smooth motion.

And Envy screamed.

Muscles clenched and rolled, struggling to accept the sudden intrusion of mass and hardness. Envy doubled over, moaning. Hair clung to his sweaty skin and he tossed it back, then took hold of Ed's shoulders and pushed up almost high enough to dislodge Ed, who realized what he needed to do and moved his hands to grip Envy's upper arms. Envy gripped Ed's upper arms in return, and—breathing curses—he lifted himself again and began to move, trying to establish a pace.

Nails cut. Fingers dug hard enough to bruise. Envy jerked his hips and felt Ed thrust upwards, trying to match his pace, and even though the rhythm wasn't perfect, it slammed Envy and he cried out. Finally. This was finally hurting him like he wanted to be hurt, by his own terms. Filling the dark and hungry and painful places inside of him, and he sped up, deepening their coupling, increasing the pain, the pleasure; it was a rush, a rush of blood and emotions and he needed this.

He almost loosened his jaw and told Ed just what was on his mind: how it felt, how he needed it, how this was him taking hold of his identity and taking the reins of what should've belonged to him all along, but no. Sounded silly, and Envy knew it, and he said nothing, except not-words spoken in the grunting, guttural language of lust.

Soon Envy could hear Edward saying his name more loudly, more desperately, and it only increased the sensations, such that Envy knew he didn't have long. He moved faster, faster, edging into frantic, and hair was getting into his mouth, his eyes; he didn't care. He was almost there. Almost—peaking—he leaned back, way back, spreading his legs, and—

And he crashed onto the bed, bewildered.

"What the fuck, Ed?" Envy asked, irate. What the hell did that bastard think he was doing, throwing him off like that?

Ed didn't say anything. He didn't even look like he could say anything. Breathing and shrugging in a series of jerky, awkward looking movements, Ed had sat up, cross-legged; he gripped his knees and squinted, shaking his head like he thought he could just shake his arousal away. One hand pointed glibly in the direction of the door.

When the blood stopped rushing so quickly in Envy's ears and sound returned to the world, he heard it.

Slow and steady, like a death knell.

Rap, rap, rap.

Knuckles on wood.

Rap, tat-tat, rap, tat-tat, rap.

Now Envy understood why Ed had been yelling his name: it had not simply been for the sake of ecstasy. He'd been trying to get his attention.

Envy stared at the door as if expecting a demon to smash through the wood.

His lip curled downwards. Fucker. Bastard. Fucking thing, how dare it—how dare he, she, they—interrupt him, them?

"Mmf," Ed mumbled. "S-sorry. I need to go. We'll talk when I get back."

"—talk? TALK?"

"—shit, I wanted to take a bath. Shit. Damn. So much for that. Shit. Sorry." Ed wasn't even looking at him. Like he could care less. He grabbed up his clothing in a mad rush and jumped off the bed, head lowered as he hopped around on one foot, trying to hurry into his pants as fast as he could. It looked ridiculous, and Envy watched, quietly outraged, wanting to growl and steam and beat the shit out of his idiot lover. "I'll be back. No worries."

"Kill them!" Envy shouted. He wasn't afraid of who might hear. Fuck them. Fuck everyone. Fucking humans. Envy grabbed the plate off the edge of the bed and slammed it down on the nightstand. Should've kicked the fucking thing across the fucking room. The mattress whined and creaked beneath him as he slammed his fists into it. Fucking Ed. Edward was stupid. That was all there was to it. "What the fuck? Why are you going? You fucking idiot. Why the fuck would you leave and go off when I'm here trying to offer us a solution? You'd deserve it if you got killed for being so goddamned stupid."

"You wouldn't understand," Ed said, straightening one of his sleeves. He looked down at Envy, chewing his cheek and working his jaw in apparent contemplation (complete with distant eyes; eyes that didn't seem to be seeing Envy, eyes that were drawn back in time to other places and people and memories). He lifted his head and swept his bangs away from his face, then began tying his hair. "You wouldn't, so there's no point in even saying right now. When I get back...we'll talk. Don't forget what you wanted earlier, right? We'll ...I'll... we'll continue this. Just. Stay put."

Rushed, odd words. What the hell was the kid talking about? Envy didn't know. He wasn't sure Ed knew. He sat there, naked and miserable, still aching and throbbing, still dreamy-eyed and desiring, and everything was surreal and words didn't make sense and his mind was shaken, reaching backwards through months. Envy reached up and cupped his face, wiping his cheeks and his brow. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Unfair. Ed was just...Ed was just...

Envy wasn't sure what kind of face he was making at just that moment in time, but it must have been a particularly odd one, because it was then that Ed did the most bizarre and unimaginable thing Envy could conceive of.

Ed leaned forward, pressed his lips together, hesitated, leaned back.

And then, suddenly, he planted a hurried—sloppy—kiss on Envy's lips.

He pulled back quickly, looking as surprised as Envy knew he must've looked.

Envy wasted no time. He scowled and snarled, wiped his mouth with the back of one forearm, and pfbht-ed loudly.

Ed worked his jaw like he wanted to say something. Mouth open, still nibbling his cheek. Hands at his sides, then on his hips, then back to his sides, like they didn't know what they wanted to do. He opened his mouth wider and Envy just knew he was going to say something.

But he didn't. Not a word.

And he was gone, a vanishing flash of golds and browns and whites, blond ponytail swishing like its namesake.

Envy didn't watch him depart; he merely heard the swinging of hinges and the tell-tale click of a door shutting into place.

Morose things: doors. Like groaning, dying. Envy couldn't hear Ed's footsteps anymore. He'd never seen who had come for him. He'd never heard them speak, had never heard any conversation exchanged. And Edward was gone, wasn't he? Gone, gone, gone, like other Elrics from before. Gone, and he'd probably fucking die, that fucking idiot, and then how the fuck would Envy ever kill him?

Envy pressed his face to the mattress and clutched his stomach, doubling over with his knees firmly pressed down. He'd had to curl into a ball. Even with eyes to see, he'd been too upset and annoyed and generally pissed off to witness Edward's departure.

Fuck. He jerked his cock, but it wasn't a pleasant activity. More like a grind, the kind of motion that would've torn flesh from bones had his strength been what it once was. Jerk after jerk, each numb and hurting and not in the good way; torturing, like masochism flowing through his fingers, and he ground his teeth together in his rage as his body contorted into the embodiment of a silent scream. A silent scream. His whole existence; that's what it'd been, right? Fuck. Envy came in raw spurt and felt it dripping through his fingers and onto the sheets. A headache sprouted between his ears like thoughts were trying to escape and leak out, and his eyes were wet. Wet.

Not again. Not again. He'd been regaining his esteem, his power, his control. He was Someone. He was meant to be Someone. He could take charge of himself without her; without Ed, but. But. Those old things. Ed was gone, fucking gone, maybe to die, and all of those old things were there, ready to come tearing and cackling and plodding out of the shadows, ready to return Envy to that world where he couldn't see, couldn't fathom. Places darker than darkness, chasms deeper than the world, hateful doors. Groaning, sad doors. Not again. Envy heaved and held his twisted, aching stomach tight. Nothing erupted—no bile, no stones, but he heaved dryly a few more times for good measure.

Not again. He would not go there again.

Envy lifted his head and viciously jerked his hand across his mouth and eyes, determined to rid himself of any extraneous blood, sweat, and tears.

Never again.

Never again.

He would close those hateful doors once and for all.

With an expression fit to match the malice and discontentment he felt, Envy grabbed the lower half of his clothing and put it on, jerking it up to his waist. The music of screams and dire laughter played inside his ears. Like tines dragged along a plate, screeching circles.

Shut up, Envy told the voices, the past that walked with him. The rape. Shut up.

And he stumbled off the edge of the bed, making his way about the dim, dizzying, beautiful room as if he were in a drunken stupor; he paced and hiccuped through the budding tears that he squeezed his eyelids shut against and refused to let fall. He wasn't wearing all his clothing, was he? Something was missing.

There, on the bed, his headband. He thought a silent ah and went to retrieve it, head still pounding as if he'd been victim to a rain of bricks. Why were these phantasms returning to him? He'd been fixing himself. He'd been repairing his identity, claiming it as if it were new. But now he'd been abandoned all over again, alone in this crazy place and this crazy, crazy world. Fuck that.

Stay put?

Like hell.

Nausea and dizziness, vertigo. The Gate. The Gate was back in his ears, behind his eyes, but Envy screamed inside of himself, told it to fuck off. How many times did he have to thwart that fucking thing? And now, why now was he hearing the echo of Edward's footsteps on the carpeted floor—like those footsteps of long ago? But no. Those footsteps had been on wood. Wood. Fucking wood. And they were all Envy could hear. Feet. Feet clomping, stamping. Envy thought he was going to throw up his stones. No. He wasn't. He was strong. He was Envy.

The mirror.

I need it to put on my headband, don't I? he thought in that weird, foreign, intoxicated way. Envy didn't know what sort of state of mind he had entered into, but he felt something old and angry churning within him; he was unsettled. There was that feeling, that dehydrated feeling, like he needed to gulp red water, only he didn't think that's really what he was after. The room seemed cramped and oppressive, stress radiating from the overly decorative walls. Envy walked around, fists at his sides, shoulders squared, footsteps heavy on the intricate carpet. He knew he must've looked like he was about to pick a fight or punch something into oblivion, but there was nothing here to destroy besides useless, ornate shit. Focus. His focus was missing, and that wasn't right. He had to focus. He took a deep breath.

The mirror.

They didn't want me to see it, Envy realized. He knew it. He was absolutely sure.

Over the pounding inside his head, he heard the voices, and one of them was a voice assured that the mirror hadn't been meant for his sight. It hadn't been intended for him. They didn't want him to see it. He, she, they...someone. The mirror. It was one of the reasons his vision had been stripped from his body. Not the main one. He didn't think so. No. But it was one of the reasons. And he had to go look into it. He had to see himself.

Envy padded over to stand before the mirror, taking a breath and taking in the sight of his reflection.

The same reflection he'd seen a hundred years ago in a mirror a world away. Different universes, realities, different lives, but mirrors held their images forever. Mirrors didn't lie.

Envy grinned at himself and pulled the side of his mouth and experimented with different expressions; he lifted and pinched his eyebrows and narrowed and widened his eyes and he stretched, lifting one leg and holding it out such that his toes and foot eased down on the dresser. He reached down and ran his hands along the leg, watching himself do so; the pose made it seem as if he were about to kick the washing utensils aside, or as if he were about to lift his other leg and stand on the dresser. Yes. A feverish yes. This was his body. The same body he'd made before a mirror not so unlike this one, in a fancy room that—while less embellished—was not so unlike this one. These were the same clothes he'd worn before, the same attire and attitude he'd spent so long honing, perfecting.

The muscles were still there. They hadn't changed in the least. The androgyny, the boyishness...still intact. The eyes were darker, the hair different, but that was not apparent in this light, no. The skin had dustings of colour; heat had taken residence, but the mirror scarcely conveyed that. This was his body, free of birthmarks or bruises or cuts; no flaws, not even the tiniest scrape, and while Envy didn't want blemishes... his notable lack thereof caused something of a cognitive dissonance. For it seemed dishonest, really, to have been so battered and abused, and to have nothing to show for it, no injuries to wear. No scars.

According to the mirror, those tortures had never happened.

Mirrors didn't lie, but they didn't tell the whole truth, either.

Envy saw himself scowl.

Another familiar expression.

The mirror smiled at him, light gleaming and rippling over its cool, silver-backed surface like the glow of eyes watching from hidden places in the forest.

He hated what he was feeling now, mostly because he didn't altogether understand it, and he stared at the mirror as if interrogating it, as if it held the answer to his dilemma. Well, why the fuck shouldn't it? It was all there. There he was. There was Envy: many forms, many names, many identities. Man, woman, creature. Actor, soldier, murderer, torturer, with his penchant for sarcasm and his wicked sense of humour and his sense of play and his sense of righteousness. He saw his own confident face looking back at him. And yet it wasn't completely right.

Because what he didn't see—but what he knew to be there, lurking like an invisible elephant—was that other side of his personality. Oh, he could say it didn't exist. And he had said that, many times. But he knew it existed to the point that the mirror's denial filled him with cold fury. He didn't see that weak, snivelling, appalling, infuriating, fucking desperate excuse of a cunt whose potential for existence had made itself terrifyingly apparent of late. It was subdued, covered by the surface, by the image he wanted to maintain. But there in that same room with him—there was that side of him that had suffered in ways he knew he couldn't entirely remember now, and the Envy that had once been invisible was the same Envy who had thrown up while Ed had held his hair back, the same Envy who had wept in agony and sorrow to find himself confronted with proof of his own helplessness.

Who had learned never to cry with her.

Envy crossed his arms, rubbing his shoulders.

She had needed him. Wanted him, and loved him as one loves a thing which necessitates their plans. But she had also held contempt for him, and—oh how easy it was to see now—she'd been afraid of him.

Contempt because he was a walking reminder of the bastard, the bastard's handiwork, proof that the bastard had been the first to succeed in human transmutation. The old fool had been the superior alchemist, and that had burned Dante to the core. If anyone had ever been envious, it had been that bitch. But many days she had held Envy and stroked his back and his hair and complimented his lovely, artistic choice of form, and told him that he was her most valuable commodity.

He had never believed her to be sincere, not even in those days, but the attention was what he'd wanted and his need to please had, at times, risen to be all-consuming, so much so that when she'd disappointed him, he had gone to spite her. From his earliest incarnation following the old man's departure, Envy had been full of mischief. He'd schemed. He'd lied (and you didn't lie to Dante, to master; he'd learned that, too). He'd thrived off tricks and deceit and cunning and he'd toppled some of her more minor plans and relationships and creations. Most of the time, she'd caught him and given him the grand scale equivalent of a slap for a hand in the cookie jar—which was, of course, far more intense than a slapped hand.

You didn't lie to Dante. You might find yourself trussed up with pins in your pressure points, if you did.

It was all for his sake, she had assured. She was just showing him tough love. Teaching him how to be a soldier. Soldiers didn't cry. He had to harden his heart; he didn't have a soul. How could a soulless creature have emotions? It couldn't. Those emotions were fake. Just emotions of the alchemist who had created him, and did he really want to be like that bastard? No, no, of course he didn't. Those long, long bleeding sunsets; those long, long bleeding sunrises, in which Envy's only companion had been his headache, pulsing and throbbing like it was now. Like a machine in his head, clock gears grinding sharp points to pry apart the bones. He'd cried until he'd forgotten how to cry, and then he'd forgotten that he'd ever known how. Greed may have been sealed for a hundred years or more; for Envy, the worst it had ever been was seven. Seven years of sin. Seven years of solitude.

Solitude was the one thing he could never grow accustomed to.

Pain, yes. Pain was his. But from his first formative (not even fully constructed) memories, solitude was the bane of Envy's existence. Being alone, being abandoned. Held prisoner by alchemy he didn't understand, rendered partially immobile. He'd played along out of vindictiveness, at first. He'd pretended not to feel bothered. He'd even laughed, snickered, taunted, whistled. But time broke him down. He could neither see those bleeding sunsets nor imagine their existences; day and night were the same, and the clanging in his head eventually became too much to stand.

He bit off his tongue. He tore out his eyes. He scrawled on the walls with his blood.

He threw up the stones he was fed, sometimes, and he had to swallow them again or else starve.

Hatred had been his only companion, his only focal point. He'd dwelled on it until there was nothing else left.

Hatred for her, yes, but it was all for his sake, she said. To make him stronger, better, more dependable. It was Hohenheim's fault foremost. Hohenheim had sentenced him to this hell. It was humanity's fault; how dare those fucking shits live their lives without this level of stress and suffering. He'd change that. He swore he would.

It was Edward's fault. How dare Edward usurp him. How dare Edward make him have such feelings.

How dare he be so infuriatingly perfect.

Envy saw his expression contort into one of pure, unadulterated hatred and rage before his fist slammed into the mirror.

Glass rained down on the dresser.

He remembered. Most (if not all) of it had come back to him now. He remembered. He remembered. Remembered and how, and how he fucking hated that bitch, that BASTARD, humans; every filthy, war-mongering, hot, smelly, shitting, hypocritical, smirking, lying HUMAN. Ants, wretched fucking ants that destroyed themselves. Lying, filthy, murderous, petty little creatures. SO SMALL with delusions of being so fucking big.

Envy slammed his fists on the table, pounding the wood again. Again. AGAIN.

Shards bounced, danced; he crushed them and they impaled his fingers and palms, driving deep into his skin, piercing his undead nerves and veins, capillaries and arteries. Slicing, bursting, and still he beat with the force and fury of many years. The pain intensified his protracted rage and he howled, entire body twisting into an eternal cry. Horror frozen in time, denied by the memory of mirrors. Denied by everything save for the record of his own memory and who the fuck would've believed that, and who would care, and with his own past so fucking jumbled and blurry in his head, how could he be sure he hadn't dreamed this torment into existence? How did he know this whole fucking world wasn't just the product of some goddamned dream? Since when did he dream? Why had he been dreaming?

What could be conveyed by such poor vessels as false blood and false organs and false bones? He wanted to crush his own fingers for failing to bleed a current sufficient enough to carry his devastation from his body. He wanted to eradicate every clingy aspect of himself; he wanted to take his hands, these dishonest hands, and beat every living human to death with them. Because how dare they be so fucking weak, so fucking arrogant; they did nothing but pollute the world. This terrible, terrible world. This world of droughts and dry fields and festering sores and ugly military men in their ugly military suits. All worlds were the same. When one ripped away the shielding cloak of society, what the fuck was a world but a war, a wound, a dead land where the smell of feces and burning flesh hung in the air and vultures circled overhead and there was moaning and sobbing, muffled, and Envy remembered sorting through the ruins, through the survivors—his hands closing around delicate, little throats. Tears on their faces, but he hadn't cared. Couldn't care. Didn't have a soul. Didn't feel. He didn't feel. Not him. He wasn't feeling now. It was a lie. She'd said it was a lie.

This was what the thunder said.