Between Pluto and God

chapter 2.

The strike had caught Edward before the pain settled in, feet stumbling backwards,
tangling, and nearly tripping over one another while the book dropped from his
numb fingers. The nerves in his face shrieked for a moment, protesting over
the blow, over the sudden bruise that was climbing to the surface, over the
way they were abused by some little twit with long hair. Teeth clamped down
together, grinding as he got his bearings, as he straightened himself and pulled
his weight down onto his stable spread feet.

"Haven't changed, have we?" Ed growled, his eyes dancing,
full of excited glee. "It's been awhile since I had a good match."

"Don't worry," Envy shot back as he shrugged off the long,
gray coat and left it in a crumpled pile beside him on damp cement. "I promise
not to go easy on you."

"The feeling is mutual!" The Elric brother lunged at him,
spewing a few stones as he set off closing the distance between them. His natural
fist was pulled back, before jutting forward in a blur of motion, in a flare
of rage; Envy wasn't worth the risk of damaging his metal arm, especially with
no one to do serious repairs in the dark days of such a thing. It didn't matter,
didn't matter, because he could take him, could finish him, right here, right
here in the stree—

Envy turned on his heel, body twirling in a mass pale flesh
and boring German clothes that seemed a little too big for his small frame.
His arm curled around the other's forearm, and upon yanking him close, he began
the slow and torturous process of bending the captured elbow in a way that it
could and would never be built for. Purring, he leaned in close, all teeth,
all malice, all business. "How many worlds must I kill you in before you stay

The homunculus' breath was a puff of chilled air against
Ed's shocked face at being caught so easily, being caught with his defenses
down. Without thinking (or caring; having a good metal arm wouldn't help much
if the rest of him was dead and gone, he wisely figured), he slammed the heel
of his steel palm underneath Envy's chin, an act that knocked that dark head
back and loosened the deadly arms which had grabbed him so threateningly. Wrenching
free the rest of the way, he danced back one step before throwing a curled fist
where the homunculus was strongly attempting to right his bearings.

Envy staggered from the blow into his cheekbone, then doubled
over as Ed's knee found a rough home into the pit of his abdomen. The glory
that was breath ran out of him in a rush, and he fought to make his lungs work,
function, fought to gain himself back at least a little. Dark eyes, pupils no
more than slits in their surge of rage, rolled up as he peered through his hair,
and white teeth were brandished. Big mistake, this twerp was making! Big fucking

One hand shot out, grasping onto the front of the olive
shirt that Ed had chosen for that big shopping day, and with a growl that reverberated
from the narrow chest, he shoved the other away from him. Dropping down low,
he slammed one booted foot into his opponent's metal ankle, relishing in the
low tone of the strike and watching with malevolent glee as Ed toppled backwards
in an unstable flail of arms.

Envy was over him in a second, one knee deep in a puddle
that was in the process of drying itself up before it was so rudely disturbed
by the rough black fabric that covered his leg. Hands grasped the other's shirt,
and without a care, without regret, he shook him hard back and forth. "Where
is he? I know he's here; tell me where he's hiding!"

Ed didn't have to ask who; he knew, knew as sure as he
knew that he was far from where he should be and that Envy was insane. But that
was all okay, perfectly fine, because he was going to ask anyway, just to be
annoying, just out of spite. He smirked, teeth glittering, if not a little pink
from where his lip had been busted. "Wh—"

"Break it up!" One rough hand, worn and calloused from
working too many hours with too few breaks, fisted itself in Envy's hair, and
after getting an enraged shriek from the homunculus, he tugged the thin man
off the poor sprawled boy on the sidewalk. The alchemist sat up, rubbing at
his bloody mouth with one gloved-hand, looking up at the police officer who
had interrupted them in some sort of silent adoration and mild pity. Poor
guy has no idea what he's holding in his hand.

Envy twisted in the grasp, nails lashing out to try to
grab the wrist behind him, to lacerate the flesh and feel the warm wash of blood.
His teeth were bared, his pupils dilated in their primal anger; how dare
someone grab him, someone interfere in his revenge, his interrogation, his hidden
truth! If he moved a little more, closed that distance, ripped these all-encompassing
clothes, if he only wasn't wearing this thick shirt—

The wind was knocked from Envy's tortured lungs once more
as he was slammed into the wall of a small restaurant they had been unconsciously
warring in front of, ignoring the looks from a crowd that had started to flock
in a circle around them. The tight fist in his hair and coat was traded for
the drawn out process of his arm being shoved high into his back, tugged until
tendons screamed and bones threatened to splinter. Low, growled protests were
ground into the bricks millimeters away from his lips, and if only he could
see the police officer, if only he could memorize that face so he could picture
the way it would configure itself while he screamed, he might have relaxed a

Calm, rheumy eyes found Edward, and dark eyebrow arched.
"Was he bothering you, boy?"

It was a fight to keep the retorts, the offended look from
crossing his lips, but somehow, the Elric brother managed, complete with clenched
teeth and a tight jaw. "Yes, sir. Yes, he was." Positively wicked, Edward purred
under his breath. "Are you going to take him to prison?"

"Why, you, little short shi—"

"Silence!" the booming voice of law and reason cut through,
before tugging Envy away from the cold, damp bricks. "You're coming with me,
no matter what anyone says. Would you care to add resisting arrest, or
are you going to come along peacefully?"

The dark gaze swung to Ed, Ed who was nearly gleefully
rolling back and forth on the heels of his shoes. I'm going to kill you,
the glare said as thick, heavy iron cuffs were latched down upon the small wrists.
And you're going to beg for me to stop.

Edward smirked, wiggling the fingers of his gloved, mechanical
hand in a mocking wave. "Have fun, Envy! Let's try not to meet again, okay?"

"And you left him there?"

Edward was surprised by the sudden stunned tone in the
old man's voice, his golden eyes widening a little as lashes pulled away. Did
Hohenheim forget all the stories, all the explanations that he had given him?
Was he really that far gone? Was it more than the body rotting away, but his
common sense and logic, too?

"Well, I thought I would invite him home for a nice family
dinner, but I figured that we didn't have enough Hasenpfeffer to go around,"
the younger of the bloodline muttered under his breath. Shrugging off his coat,
he tossed it onto the bed with a bit of a snort, before grabbing the blueprints
and the book he had picked up at the store, that fateful trip that had started
it all. Theory of Spectra and Atomic Constitution by Niels Bohr was still
worth it, would always be worth it. Kicking his feet up, shoes and all,
he lounged back with his head on the will-o-wisp pillow, opening to page IV
of the glorious introduction.

"Thought this through rather well, I see." Grabbing a few
plates that had been laying around, Hohenheim padded quietly to the kitchen.
The tone of his voice was matter-of-fact, simple, even, but even so, it grated
on his son's last nerve like a cat yowling incessantly at the turn of midnight.


The water started on, loud at first, before dulled by the
plates that were suddenly in the way of the faucet. "I suppose there will be
no changing your mind."

"Nope. Not unless you want a flashing sign outside the
door stating where you are. And really, if that wouldn't mess up my side of
the apartment, I would be the first person to do just do that."

Sly lips crooked up into a secret smirk. "Such a shame."

Edward could feel the frustration seeping in, could feel
the way it made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. Dammit, these
games! Why all the dancing around? Why all the hiding spots? "Just tell
me what you're thinking, old man!" No words floated by, nothing spoken, just
the sound of running water and clanging porcelain. It took several moments for
the man to settle back into the living room area again, and by that time aggravation
had seeped into the son enough to slam the book shut and force him to sit up
straight with a scowl fixed over his lips.

"I wonder," Hohenheim mused rather pointedly while he cleaned
his glasses on his tan untucked shirt, "what the police will they do when they
realize what Envy is?"

The scowl depended. "And how would they figure that one
out? Have you seen them around here lately, the cases they 'solve'?" Without
a break, the 'curious' reflection still bubbled forth, heavy words in a light
voice. "Or the military? I wonder what their reaction would be. Especially
with the state of foreign and domestic affairs now. Envy could come in handy."

The book was dropped down against the mattress beside him,
the scowl giving way for a full powered glower. "How would they ever find out""

With the cleaned spectacles now straightened over the slim
bridge of his nose, Hohenheim raised one eyebrow in a small arch. "I didn't
think you would be the type to risk something that big over something as small
and foolish as pride."

The room sat still, silent, the air mingled with the easy
breeze of Hohenheim's casual aura and Edward's growing annoyance. Did the old
man want to be dissected and quartered? Was that his brilliant thought? Letting
out Envy would be like signing a death warrant! It would be...would be...didn't
he...? "What do you expect me to do to keep him in the dark?" he grumbled.

The older one laughed, waving one hand as he moved to his
own cot, lying down atop the lumpy, old mattress. "I'm sure you'll think of
something, Edward. I have faith in you."

An automail hand snatched his coat, before sliding into
it with a low grunt. He was going to get Envy out, out of jail and back into
his life, in one fashion or another. On purpose. On damn purpose. Did
this make any sense? Sure, on some logical level it clicked with him,
on that rational thought level that made it possible to move his feet towards
the door, towards this destination, but it still seemed surreal, still seemed
like he needed to see a head doctor. Fast.

"I hate you, you know," Edward muttered, before slamming
the door shut behind him.