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chauni

Between Pluto and God

chapter 4.

The time from the shower until the next confrontation was
deeply uncomfortable and separated by enough tension that would choke people
with lesser resolve. No mention of the scar was drawn up, no inquiries on why
such a thing didn't simply heal ever surfaced; both silently agreed that it
was none of the alchemist's business why such abnormalities were occurring.
However, it could be assured that when Edward's back was turned, Envy's thick
glare would cut through air and slam into the smaller figure, that pointed gaze
making the golden hair stand up on the object's neck, even though there was
no meeting of eyes, no sense of completion to that circle.

A week off, and familiar heavy footsteps cut through the
air of the main studio room. Just as Ed was about to get into the meat of a
particular lengthy paragraph, a splayed hand slammed down on the page and shoved
the book from the mismatched grip. Amber eyes shot up, the blonde tail sliding
over one lean shoulder, and thin lips were drawn back in a sneer. "What?"

"Don't you work, shorty?" Envy shot back, the hand not
wavering from the mystery of those precious, hidden words. "We'll run out of
money soon, and then what?"

"If you're that worried about it, get off your ass and
find a job." Edward yanked on the book, jerking it out from under the unyielding
palm. "I'm not your mom."

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence, with the
alchemist not looking up at the 'house guest', at the frigid eyes and the snarling
teeth. "If I had a mom, she'd be at least a normal height."

Silence owned that moment, captured it, took it, before
Ed jumped from where he had been sitting and slammed his hands onto Envy's small
shoulders. Both went crashing down to the floor, legs threaded, teeth bared,
animals in a domestic habitat, and neighbors slammed broomsticks against the
walls in annoyance over the noise.

This transcended height comments. This surpassed the petty
jokes, the small quips made to pester. This was a week's worth of tip-toeing
and curiosity.

"Who are you?" Edward hissed, pressing harder on
those shoulders while scrambling to his knees. His eyes were wild as he growled,
large and endless. "I'm tired of the games!"

A sharp splinter slid into the back of Envy's neck from
the floor, pricking at his skin and letting the blood dribble down it, tickling
like ants. "You know who I am! You're the one playing games, hiding him
from me!"

"Don't talk about him! This isn't even about him!" One
flesh and blood hand went down to the thin chest below, tapping, rapping against
it, against the words carved into his skin. "This is about you, about what you
are now! I'm sick of dancing around the subject anymo—"

"I never asked you to!" Hands snapped up, reaching
for Edward, for the tormentor in question, before strong fingers grasped his
wrists and drove them against the floorboards once more. "You took it upon yourself,
you idiot!"

How frustrating could one person be? "If I'm going to live
with you, I have to trust you!" Pale hair trickled over his shoulders to pool
on pale cheeks as he leaned forward, spreading his body over Envy's in an effort
to keep his bucking and his wriggling to a minimum. "Tell me what's going on!"

Color flooded the round cheeks as Envy stopped thrashing,
lying loosely against the floor. The rage was there, thinly masked under skin
and eyes and body alone, but for the moment, it was subdued. "You want to know,
you stupid brat?" came the cold hiss, something so venomous that the alchemist's
fingers shook, wavered on the wrists before snapping tighter just in case. "I'm
a fucking lowly human now. Is that what you wanted to hear? That I was
human? That I can scar and break and die? That I have a fucking conscience and
it talks in my head? That I can feel, even when I don't want to? That
this stupid, scientific world has me like this since the second I came over?"

Edward's eyes were glittering matching suns that lost
their intensity, their inferno at such an admission. The grip slackened, loosened,
before sitting up, back on his knees, rocking slightly. Human? Envy... was...
But that couldn't be! That just couldn't be! How could someone like that
house a soul of any kind? How could he be anything more than some nightmarish,
wicked puppet on cut strings?

Envy... human. Envy... a human. It... it made some sense,
but it couldn't be the truth behind it all, could it? With all that rage? With
all that hate that still lingered, oozing around him like an aura? But...but...

"I have you to blame for this," Envy snarled on, nails
scratching at the wood floor, marking it for all of time. "You and that old
man!"

Had he been thinking clearing, Ed might have remarked
that it had been Envy's own obsession that drove him to jump through the gate
and that neither he nor his father had pushed him. Instead he simply snorted
before climbing to his feet, leaving the other to lie, curled at his feet. "And
you still want to kill him."

"He is the one that did this to me!" Envy screamed,
crawling to a sitting position in some loose fashion. "He couldn't have left
me dead! He brought me back when I didn't ask for it!"

The crack of a hard, unforgiving hand against a smooth
cheek echoed in the tiny room, and even the brooms that had been slamming against
the walls in annoyance stopped as if cued. Teeth flashed as Edward glared down
at his... at his what? Brother in sin? "No one asks to be born, idiot."

Envy rubbed his cheek, fighting all urge to launch himself
at the blonde, to throw him to the ground and tear his insides out, to taste
that blood that matched their veins. "But I didn't ask to be brought back!"

"He did it because he loved you!" screamed the
alchemist, voice quaking. This was too close, too close to be sane, and it was
eating away at his insides faster than he cared to admit to himself. "He loved
you! You weren't some wicked little alchemy experiment, Envy; you were his son!
He would have...he would have done the same for me, for Al!"

"Shut up!" Hands covered the sweeping curves of
ears, dark hair falling over his knuckles as he tipped his head forward. "I
don't want to hear your lies! He left me! He left me just like he left you,
and he deserves some sort of retribution for it!"

We're the same! Hadn't Envy said those words earlier?
Hadn't he stated that truth in the streets of Munich, anger in his voice and...
betrayal? Was that the underlying tone even now, even as he stood here defending
his old man, the same old man that drove him to such lengths when he had no
one?

Was a soul all it took to become human? Was a soul the
only thing that had separated them? And if that was the case...if that was the
case, who were they now? Where were they now?

In another time, another place, when the nights were heavy
and dark and oh-so-oppressive, Al had crawled to his bed, smoothed down his
hair, and simply held him. When flesh turned to cold steel, Al, dearest Al still
crawled to his bed, albeit there was much more noise as the joints clanged together,
as the mattress whined under the weight, as Ed hissed from the initial frigid
contact of metal against skin. But even if his body was cold, his soul had been
so warm, so tropical, so safe.

It had always been the one and only thing that gave him
proof that he had ever been alive.

Edward slid down to his knees, staring across at the creature
some inches away. This was the monster that had killed him, had driven a hand
right through his chest, and here Envy was, so small, so insecure, so... real.
More real than any of the faces he had ever shown before. More real than the
statements of hate, of cocky vengeance in another world. More real than the
paper figures that passed by they as they walked the streets below.

Envy was human. He could eat, breathe, live, die.
He could smile and mean it, have reasons that validated that emotion,
emotion that he might not have been able to feel before.

He's like me, the alchemist thought, before sliding
his arms loosely around the other's neck, tugging him close, closer into the
embrace just as Al used to do for him. It all made sense, really, it had to
on some level that even Edward couldn't grasp. It had to make sense because
they only had each other, and weren't they blood for each other?

Envy's arms tightened, pressed harder against his ears
for a moment; was...was the little short shit hugging him? Was he really
sitting here with his arms around him? Was he really trying to comfort
him? The dark eyes widened in their shock, their confusion, their anger. How
dare he! How dare this pathetic little twit think that he... that he was so
weak that he could help him! How dare he think...he think...

The muscles twitched, jerked, before hands dropped from
his ears. The alchemist's arms tightened for a moment, and Envy sat, looking
blankly over his shoulder, musing over how simple it would be, how so damn simple
it would be to kill him right now, to do to him what he had done be—

But he couldn't do that, couldn't, not when he was trapped
in this body that wouldn't morph, caught like a bird in some cage, only left
to see the outside world. Was he lying when he said that they were the same?
Was he jerking along the jerk?

Fingers spasmed, before rising off the ground, off where
they had fallen and laid like so much broken kindling. The embrace was slowly
returned, delicate as china, soft as warm cotton under the breeze. Long digits
found the blonde hair, trailed through it fearfully before he rested his smooth
forehead against a frigid metal shoulder. "I hate you."

Edward ignored the comment, the soft whisper of breath
against his neck. His hands were still, splayed against the smooth back, his
mind on the cut, on the scars etched into the pale flesh. "Why do you...why
don't you look like your real face?"

"Humanity, that damn disease, took me in the form I crossed
over as," Envy murmured. "This is the face I remember, and it's the one I'm
going to be stuck with."

"You know, it's not as bad as you think it is." Steel
joints twitched, before pressing the other form closer to him, something Al
had done to prove points when they had been alone together. "Being human, that
is."

Envy snorted, a blast of hot air from his nostrils, and
Edward could swear he could feel the ghost of soft lips against the pulse that
beat in his neck. "I hate the voices in my head. In my chest."

"That's your conscience."

"I don't care what it's called. I hate it."

"I'm sure it's not too fond of you either." Edward began
the tedious task of untangling himself from the clinging new-human, his arms
pulling away from Envy slowly. His palms still prickled with the heat of the
lean body, the electricity of such a form bleeding down through his flesh and
into the depths of his veins. It had been so long since he had touched anyone,
had been so long since he was needed, since he was close. He moved to stand
up, the automail joints creaking with the need of a sprig of oil, before he
felt a strong hand grasp his wrist and drag him back down with a crash and a
pained yelp. Golden eyes blinked in confusion up at Envy, Envy who was grabbing
him so tightly, who was leaning in so close with his teeth flashing, clenching
together almost violently.

"I hate the voices!" he hissed, growled, snarled.

The alchemist flinched, waiting for a blow, for fingers
to fist in his hair and slam him into aged floorboards, waiting for something.
He was, however, most certainly, not waiting for that something to be
a pair of strong, warm lips pressing softly against his own. A sound gurgled
up from the back of Edward's throat, choked, strangled, confused, something
to match the reflection of his eyes. The lips...they tasted bittersweet, like
a cold green apple on a hot summer day, and it made his mouth tingle sweetly.
There was a tongue, a tongue sliding through, finding a path down into the depths
of his mouth, and it was an apple, was, because they had shared one earlier
that day over bread and cheese, and, and, andandand—

Edward drove his hands against the narrow shoulders of
the other, pushing himself back in the process. His breaths came in hurried
gasps over the doorway of moist lips, his cheeks flared with the streaming color
of a setting sun. Fingernails dug into the wood below as he crawled backwards
on his behind and the heels of his feet.

"What the hell was that?" he whispered.

Envy pulled himself up, looming over where the alchemist
sat. His face was as unreadable as any dead mask, the eyes cold expanses of
galaxies and space fitted into small pupils. A taunting little smirk graced
wicked lips while dark tendrils of hair snaked down his shoulders, his back.
"What? Don't I taste as good as your brother?"

Silence before the storm. There was no warning, no growl,
no stifle of a yell or few choice names. No, this time, there was a dive for
feet, a murderous look for legs, a grip looking to latch around ankles and drag
Envy down, down, down, down. No one talked about Al like that! No one! No
one
!

But Envy was quick, as quick as he had been back there,
and he dodged out of the way with ease. "You don't think we knew? You don't
think any of us had the idea back then? You don't think you don't talk in your
sleep even now, speaking his name?" A quick brutal laugh burdened the
air, stabbed it full of cruelty. "Maybe you should have been Lust, hm,
shorty?"

Edward made another dive for him, and again, it was evaded
so easily as Envy hopped towards the door. "Shut up! Shut up!"

"'Oh, Al! I miss you so much! I dream of you every night
while lying alone in my bed! It's so cold without your little metal body next
to mine!'"

The sacred Theory of Spectra and Atomic Constitution
by talented Niels Bohr was picked up, and thrown across the room, allowing Edward
at least a little satisfaction as it struck his enemy in the side of the cheek
before crashing to the ground. The bruise that blossomed was nearly instant,
pink trading for red, before fading into a pale purple beneath one dark eye.
"Why?! Why did you kiss me?!"

Envy rubbed the mark that had sprung up on his face, fighting
back the urge to go over there and make the pipsqueak eat the fucking book page
by page. Teeth ground together as he opened the door, throwing it so that the
knob banged hard into the wall behind it, sending spider cracks into the plaster.
"I do what the voices tell me to do," he hissed, all teeth, all glare, all...envy.
"Once they stop, then I will, too."

Before Edward could reply, before he could be given that
sweet satisfaction of having the last word in, Envy stormed out of the apartment,
leaving the alchemist to stew alone.