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velvet mace

Gifts

chapter 3.

Roy watched Ed struggle to dress. He managed the boxers
and pants with a bit of slithering and pulling, closing his belt one handed
without even a trace of awkwardness. There had been times when Ed had gone without
the arm before, after a tough fight, or during routine maintenance. It shouldn't
have been a surprise that he didn't need any help.

Roy looked down at his two useless hands. His mouth felt
dry and dumb. He couldn't hope to explain to Ed that despite being whole and
hale and supposedly capable, it was almost too difficult to contemplate dressing
without Greed's permission. He was shaking and sweaty with adrenaline at the
thought of defying Greed in such an open manner.

Ed lifted up his torn undershirt and contemplated it a
moment before throwing it aside. He fastened his long sleeved coat over his
bare torso with deft fingers. That done he glanced Roy's direction.

"Don't just sit there! Do you like being naked?" Ed looked
confused. "Aren't you... cold."

Roy was cold. Bitterly cold, but it was a sensation he'd
become used to. Warmth was nice when Greed allowed it, but it was always fleeting...
and it usually came with uncomfortable strings. The blankets and sheets on the
bed came with drops of dried blood, and crusted secretions. They were disgusting.
But they were warm. Sometimes Greed dressed him in his uniform, but it was only
as a fetish. Greed loved to remind him of his former pride before forcing him
to swallow it. He'd once had pajamas but they had been long since torn to shreds
along with his self-respect. Mostly Roy just endured the cold.

Ed pulled up and balanced on his one leg. He then hopped
to the closet and looked inside. There were two uniforms there, one of them
stained with Ed's blood, the other clean and pristine. Ed grabbed the clean
one and, leaning against the door jam, tossed it into the room. "See there are
clothes. You'll feel a lot better once you get that on."

In some ways Ed's fierceness and determination were infectious.
Roy found himself wanting to believe that there was hope. That he could put
on the mantle of his old existence and resurrect his old confident self. Part
of him also feared that Ed might hit him, or worse, mock him, destroy what shreds
of self he still had left. He felt torn between two impossible choices, defy
Greed or defy Ed.

In the end, Roy stood up and picked the clothing off the
floor because Ed was right in front of him, standing balanced on one leg and
proving that it was possible to stand proud even in circumstances like these.

Ed found him some underwear in a drawer. Roy dressed with
tingling fingers. When he finished he was out of breath. His blood sang in his
ears.

Ed was staring warily at him. "Don't flake out on me,
Mustang," he growled. "I need you."

"I'm sorry," said Roy. "I'm not much of a man anymore,
am I."

Ed glowered at him. "Don't talk like that. That's what
that insane homunculus has been telling you. Don't take his word for it. Listen.
I'm sorry it took me so long to get you guys, but I'm here. We are going to
get out of here. Trust me."

Roy just sat down on the bed again. He wanted to believe
Ed, but he could still see the way Greed carried the teen so easily into the
room. Ed had been just as helpless as he was to stop the rape that followed.
Sure death might be better than this life, but it wasn't death that Greed threatened
him with. Greed knew Roy's mind perfectly, he knew exactly what price was too
high to pay.

Ed seemed oblivious to Roy's internal struggle. "Now don't
tell me you didn't even try to escape. It surely took Greed a while to beat
you down. What have you already tried?"

"I tried to find the door out, but I was unsuccessful.
It's too cleverly hidden. I tried to tunnel my way out."

Ed perked up, "Yes?"

"Greed found out and forced me to show my tunnel to him
and fill it in again."

"How long was it? Did it connect up?"

Roy sighed with anger and anguish. "No, of course it didn't.
It was a random shot in the dark. I spent a week on it. I never got anywhere.
It was, I'd guess at least 1000 feet maybe more."

"You filled up the 1000 feet?"

"No... only the first 5."

"Then we can open it."

"The others in this place will hear us. They know that
trick already. They won't let me do it again. It was a one shot thing... and
it depended on stealth. We'd be grabbed and hauled out of there... and then..."

Roy could still hear Greed's voice, threatening to throw
Al in the river, locked in a waterproof box, to lie in torment alone for however
long it took for the seal to break, and his soul to be wiped free of the last
scrap of steel left to him.

Ed knew that threat, too, but it didn't seem to daunt
him. "That's your problem, Mustang. You are too cautious, too calculating. You
take too many factors into consideration. Sometimes you have to say, screw it,
I'm doing this. I don't care how many people say it's impossible. I'll deal
with failure when it happens.... If it happens. Anyway, I have an idea."

Roy felt a wave of exhaustion wash over him. The idea
of spending his meager strength going back to that project... a week of his
life, the stress, the constant fear, but more over the hope.

"You won't be alone," said Ed hopping to the bed, and
sitting down. He clapped Roy's back in a friendly way "I'm sure I can move quite
a bit of stone at a stretch."

Roy looked at him puzzled. "Without your arm?"

Ed frowned and cocked an eyebrow at him. "Mustang, my
alchemical skill isn't in my automail arm. Yeah, I can't just clap, but I can
draw an array."

Roy's mind went momentarily blank with confusion. "But
you... when you... When Scar destroyed your arm you lead us all to believe you
couldn't do alchemy."

"You were the one to say that, not me. I just didn't contradict
you." Ed rolled his eyes. "That's the other thing wrong with you, you make assumptions.
It's a pain in the butt to draw an array, but trust me, if I'm motivated, I'll
do it.

"I'll need my arm to put Al back together, " Ed continued,
"But that's different, Roy. The problem is that I don't consciously know the
array to do that. When I clap my hands together I can see how everything can
go, but I can't translate that into a two dimensional glyph. On the other hand,
moving ordinary earth shouldn't be a problem. I could do that when I was six."

Roy's felt his heart start to lighten, at the same time
his stomach tensed. Hope was a very scary feeling.

Ed turned to Al who had been quiet all this time. "Al?
Are you still with me?"

"Yes, brother. I'm not following you, but I trust you."

"Do you think you can still perform alchemy?"

There was a strange disembodied laugh. "I can't draw an
array."

"No, but you can activate one. You haven't forgotten how
to do alchemy have you?"

"I suppose if you placed me in an array, I could activate
it. I don't see any reason why I couldn't."

Ed smiled, satisfied. "That makes three powerful alchemists
and one simple array. We'll start with the tunnel you blocked off." Ed pushed
himself up onto his leg again.

But then Roy's heart fell again. "The problem wasn't powering
the array, Ed. It's where to put the dirt. I had to compress it, and find what
empty spots I could fill without the Sins noticing. It started easy enough
but the longer the tunnel got, the more difficult it became. The pockets I ran
into got filled quickly. I was blocking up some of the air vents by the end."

But Ed merely grinned. "That part is not going to be a
problem at all."


Ed didn't elaborate on his scheme, and Roy didn't ask. If he knew what
Ed was planning his mind could poke holes in it, show up the failings. Hope
had dug into him, despite his misgivings. Roy's mind slipped over its exquisiteness,
so sharp he couldn't tell if it was pleasurable or painful, only that it was
something he didn't want destroyed.

Ed asked for something to draw an array with, and for
a moment Roy couldn't think of anything that fit the bill. Chalk, the
alchemist's favorite tool, didn't even exist in this hell pit. Nor did pencils,
pens or any standard form of stylus. But in a pinch any sharp edged object could
do the trick, so long as the surface being cut wasn't too tough.

The storage room Roy had used was lined in concrete, the
amount of time it would take to draw scrape an array was problematic. Roy had
initially used the thick layer of dust, and later the mud of his own tunnel
to draw the array. But since it's discovery not only had that room been swept
clean, but all the other rooms as well. Roy had done the sweeping himself, with
either Greed or Envy watching on. He knew the job was thorough.

Then inspiration struck. Roy headed to the bathroom and
pulled the shower curtain back. There on the narrow shelf was the shampoo. It
was clear, but that hardly mattered, the important thing is that he could draw
with it, and it wouldn't evaporate before the array was completed.

Ed gave only the briefest of nods of acknowledgement before
going back to carefully wrapping his brother in the scarf that had been Greed's
first gift to Roy. The metal was slightly bowl shaped and when Ed pulled the
fabric tight, it stretched over the array without actually touching it. The
material was thin enough that he could still see the lines of Al's seal through
the silk. Ed took the excess material and tied it in a square knot to his belt.

"Let's go," Ed said, holding out an expectant arm. Roy
leaned down and slid an arm under the boy's armpit, helping him up from the
bed. Ed gripped his shoulder, and then hopped forward. The walk to the storage
room was something like a three-legged race. It took a while to find their rhythm.
A few times, Roy felt Ed's full weight as he lost his balance, but he didn't
let the boy fall. The kid was surprisingly light anyway.

Never had a hundred feet of corridor felt so long.

Roy worried they would come across one of the Sins in
the hall. Greed, of course, was gone for the next day or two, but his siblings
were just as dangerous. Gluttony was the most likely interrupt their escape
attempt. Without another Sin to hold him in check, the short grotesque creature
had a tendency to give in to his nature. Almost as likely and much more worrisome
was Envy. Roy had never been able to detect a pattern in that creature's comings
and goings. Then there was Wrath who had shown up twice, long enough to gloat.
Roy had never seen Pride or Sloth, though he knew they existed somewhere.

The last danger came from architect of Roy's misery. Roy
had only caught glimpses of Hohenheim since Greed's making. The alchemist seemed
to have attached himself to his machine and turned his back on the world.

The mythical Alchemist must be oblivious not to know what
his Sin was doing to his own children. As much at odds as that family was, Roy
couldn't imagine the man being that callous with his own blood. And yet... Hohenheim
had never deigned to help his youngest despite the fact he almost certainly
had the ability to restore the boy's body.

No, there would be no help there, but likely no hindrance,
either.

Roy breathed a sigh of relief when they reached the storage
room. It felt odd to walk across that familiar floor again. Memories of Greed
pacing the perimeter ghosted Roy's mind, and again he could almost feel the
Sin's breath on his back.

Ed looked up at him quizzically. "Are you cold? You are
shaking." Then the boy's face seemed to solidify in a frown. "Oh, don't go wonky
on me now. I need you to focus. Where was the hole, we can't go fishing about
for it. We need to connect up in a single shot."

Roy licked his lips and then scanned the room. The boxes
had been moved when he'd cleaned the place, but his memory was clear enough.
He'd hidden and reopened the hole many times before. While Ed sat on a box and
watched, Roy stood in the corner and then stretched his arms out as far as he
could reach. Pivoting on the palm of his hand he stretched out into the room
and then crouched on the floor.

He pulled the bottle of shampoo from his pocket and poured
a large glop out on the floor. Using it like finger-paint, he drew the array.
It looked like a dark wet line against the pale concrete. Roy noticed his hand
shaking, but dismissed it. The circle didn't have to be perfect. It just had
to be close enough.

He imagined the route the tunnel had gone before. Down
five feet under the earth and then hooking out. He paused and turned to Ed.

"Where should I put the dirt?"

"Just leave it in the room."

Roy blinked. That would work for the first five feet of
dirt, but who knows how many cubic yards they would have to move before they
reached the surface. Still, Ed had a plan, and that was whole lot more than
Roy had.

Roy put his hands in the array and willed, holding back
on his power in favor of silence. The concrete slowly cracked and then shifted,
lifted in the air and moved fill a corner of the room. Ed watched, frowning.
"Very... discrete," he said. He then pulled up to standing and hopped over to
the hole, arm twitching for balance. Roy grabbed his waist to steady him, then
lifted him up and set him in the hole. Roy's memory had served him well; the
claustrophobic tunnel was right there.

"It will be dark," Roy said. "I had a candle before."
Roy didn't mention that the candle had appeared during one of Greed's misbegotten
attempts at romance—as though the dim flickering light could make unsweetened
oatmeal or a psychopathic companion more palatable. It had been, of course,
long since confiscated.

Darkness swallowed them immediately, and Roy was left
with the sound of Ed's harsh breathing as they crawled up the inclined slope.
Finally Ed stopped.

Roy heard Ed rustling about and felt a hand brush against
his face then slide down to his neck over his shoulder to his hand. Roy fought
the urge to pull away as Ed's fingers slid around his, exploring his hand in
a bizarre but purposeful way. "Point your finger," Ed said.

Roy did. Ed grabbed his hand and pressed his finger into
the dirt. Roy resisted for half a moment then understood, Ed was using his hand
to draw the circle. Sure enough he could feel the soft earth give under his
finger, the outer circle was drawn and then the inner loops. Roy was amazed.
He wouldn't have been able to draw a perfect array in the pitch black.

"Hold your hand still," Ed ordered, his voice hushed.
Roy froze. Then he felt something solid press against the side of his hand.

"On the count of three, " Ed went on, "Put all of you
strength into the array. Let me direct where it goes."

Roy's heart skipped. "All of it? But ... the noise, and
where will all that earth go?"

"One, two, THREE!"

The alchemical light dazzled Roy and he almost stopped
adding his strength. The noise was deafening. Roy heard ground slide over and
around them. The Sins would have certainly heard that! Hell, people on the
SURFACE probably heard that. It went on for close to fifteen minutes during
which the air filled with choking dust.

"STOP!" said Ed suddenly, and in the dying reaction Roy
saw something moving up the tunnel towards them at an alarming speed. Gluttony?
No... no... it was the earth. It block up the tunnel behind them. For a moment
it looked as if it might run them over, but the wall of earth stopped only a
few feet behind them. Roy gasped. The air suddenly seemed very stale and close.

In the last glow of the alchemy circle Roy saw Ed's smug
look.

"We don't have to be stealthy Roy. No one will be able
to follow us now."

Yes... because they were now buried alive.


Ed led the way up the tunnel carved by their alchemy.
It seemed to stretch farther than Roy's original tunnel, but it was hard to
estimate. The air grew staler by the minute. Roy hoped that they would break
through to something... anything, but it didn't. Roy bumped into Ed's
foot again, and felt him wiggling around.

"The air's going bad," Roy felt compelled to mention.

"I know," Ed growled. "It's fixable."

Again the groping hand, this time Roy guided Ed to his
finger. The younger alchemist was not particularly gentle pressing it into the
ground. Roy bit his lip as his nail caught on small stones, and he wondered
if in fact the earth was suitable for even taking an array. Apparently it wasn't,
because Ed hissed in frustration and said rather tersely, "Back up about three
feet. I'm pretty sure I felt a softer patch back there."

They backed up and did it again. Roy knew the array Ed
was going for, but didn't try to control where Ed placed his finger. Roy again
was astonished by the young man's spatial sense. Very few could memorize arrangement
of objects by touch alone.

Again Roy blinked when the array light up. The air immediately
tasted cleaner. Roy sucked in great breaths with relish. Damn it, this was going
to work after all. He looked over at Ed as the light from the array faded. The
alchemist looked pensive.

"Are you all right," Roy asked.

"It's nothing. Crawling isn't the most comfortable thing
to do. I'm a bit... nevermind."

Roy knew exactly. The pleasure of escape drained away
and what he'd done the night before came back to him. He felt a wave of nausea. "I'm really sorry,
Ed. I... what can I say..."

"You don't have to say anything. You didn't rape me. That
monster did."

Roy was confused. Surely Ed didn't mean..."You wanted?
Is that—how?"

He heard Ed snort in the dark. "Don't flatter yourself.
What I meant is that I raped you just as much as you raped me. Or rather Greed
raped us both. If you hadn't done what you did, he'd have taken it out on Al.
Yeah, given a choice of ... whatever the hell you call what we did ... or say
automail surgery, I'd probably pick the surgery, but that wasn't the choice.
You did what you had to. I've lived through worse. "

"Brother," murmured Al.

"I'm just sorry you had to watch that, Al."

"I felt helpless."

"I think that was the point," said Roy, gently.

"Anyway, that whole sex thing wasn't about me anyway,"
said Ed. "It was Greed fucking with your mind, trying to make you think you
were a rapist, when you'd never do that to anyone. It's a mind fuck, just like
what he said about you wanting me when we first met. Don't buy into that garbage
just because Greed says so."

Roy swallowed and was very glad that Ed wasn't privy to
the darker parts of his past.

"He isn't you, Roy. Don't you forget it."

Roy couldn't resist twisting the knife in his own belly.
"And yet he is close enough that no one recognized he wasn't me."

Ed stopped again and Roy bumped up against him. "I already
told you I'm sorry about that. He wasn't that good a copy, Roy. Trust me, we
ALL noticed how off you... he was. We just never thought that it could be another
homunculi. Oh for a while Riza speculated you were Envy, but then we saw Envy
and you at the same time and we knew that wasn't the case."

Roy was ashamed he'd mentioned it. "It's not your fault."

"Yeah, well, it's not a great reflection on me either.
You wanna know the truth? I really thought for about an hour that you'd gone
psycho and killed my brother. I was ready to eviscerate you. You see after we
finally found the rest of Al's armor, which you... he hid in an abandoned warehouse,
After we found that, we also found a note that was in your handwriting telling
him to meet you there.

"At first I thought you might have met with him and then
a psycho got him afterwards, but it didn't make any sense, I mean you would
have stepped forward and told us where you'd seen him last. So I asked you...
I mean Greed... point blank what he did with Al. He told me that he knew something,
but I'd have to meet him privately. He said that it was some high up conspiracy
and he didn't feel comfortable talking about it in his office."

"Like an idiot I followed him to an isolated alley way
and then you... I mean Greed took me out. I was expecting a flame attack, but
he just overpowered me physically."

Ed took a deep noisy breath. "So there you have it. I
found you through luck and idiocy, not insight or detective work. And it was
because I was looking for Al not you."

"It doesn't matter how you found me," said Roy.
"Just that you didn't leave me."

Ed snorted and started to crawl again. "That wasn't all
charity either. I need you to help me take out Greed. You are the only person
to ever take out a homunculus before."


They expanded the tunnel again, filling in the hole behind
them. When the air grew too stale, they drew an array and refreshed it. Still
the walls seemed oppressively close and they appeared no closer to the surface.

Then there came a queer rumbling. They both paused and
held their breaths for a moment. Roy could feel that queer buzz at the edge
of his mind that alchemic reactions always gave him.

"That was someone else moving earth behind us," Al gasped.

"Hohenheim," muttered Roy. None of the homunculi could
perform alchemy, a fact that made Roy heartily glad.

"It doesn't matter," said Ed. "He won't find us." Still,
he crawled faster.

They performed the ritual one more time, and this time
there was a distinct difference. Roy could FEEL when they broke through to the
surface. More, he could SEE it. A distant light like a star. The air began to
taste better immediately. They crawled up and out into someone's fenced back
yard.

The owner of the property was an elderly lady, hunched
nearly double, who watched them emerge like moles from the ground with a mixture
of curiosity and alarm. "I'm calling the police," she declared as Roy pushed
himself onto the grass.

"That would be an excellent idea," said Roy. He lay back
and breathed hard and took in the sight of clouds and breathed fresh air, and
felt sunlight on his face for the first time in nearly a month.

They'd escaped.


Roy felt a bit strange drinking tea and eating cookies
in the old woman's parlor. For a bit he was overwhelmed by the sheer flavor
and texture of the food. It was the first thing he'd eaten that hadn't come
straight out of can or a packet since he'd been kidnapped.

"How are you holding up," Ed asked after a while.

"It feels strange."

The door bell rang and the old woman tottered over to
open it. Riza walked in. Her eyes scanned the two of them briefly before she
unslung the duffle from her back. "Sir, " she said hesitantly. Her brown eyes
softened, and she looked less the hardened soldier and more the concerned friend.

"It's okay." There were really no more words than that.

"I had my doubts..."

"It's okay," Roy repeated. The last thing he needed was
Riza to feel guilty. He had as much on his plate as he cold muster as it was,
without needing to counsel her as well. "I'll be fine," he added. Even though
it was the most blatantly false thing he'd ever said to her, she seemed to latch
onto the words and relax.

"We'll take Greed down," she asserted, the soldier back
in her eyes again.

"Yes, we will," said Roy with confidence he frankly didn't
feel.

Ed broke the moment with a happy near squeal. "YES! Thank
you Lieutenant!"

Roy looked over to see the alchemist pulling his automail
limbs from the duffle bag.

"Al's body is being kept in a secure storage facility.
I'll drive us there as soon as you are ready."


It was one thing to defy Greed when he wasn't around, it was another thing to
openly fight the monster. Roy wondered if he were up to the task. But the others
around him were looking towards him for guidance. He turned his eyes to each
of his trusted subordinates and remembered how easy it used to be to order them
about. How little thought he'd once given to his unequal relationships with
them.

His eyes stopped on Breda. The man looked thinner than
he had when Roy had seen him last. Roy remembered Greed's cruel remarks towards
the bright young man and he inwardly cringed. He owed it to Breda to be strong.
To show him that he was a man worthy of following, despite what the monster
had done in Roy's name.

So Roy started to act, pretending to be himself. His mouth
fumbled the words he knew he'd have said before the kidnapping. Breda nodded
his head, relaxed, ready, and ironically confident in Roy's leadership.

They snuck up on Greed in Roy's office. When Al kicked
the door, the Sin looked up from the pile of paperwork with the oddest look
of utter alarm on his face.

Roy stepped forward even as the others unloaded their
pistols into the Sin. As expected the bullets staggered the homunculus backwards
but didn't drop the creature the way they would have a normal human being.

Greed only had eyes for one person. "I see, Roy, all your
—"

Roy didn't have any idea what the Sin was going to say,
because he never got the chance to finish the sentence. Roy lifted his gloved
fingers up and snapped and felt the stir of alchemy burn up from his soul and
out his fingers and all the way to the Homunculus.

Greed started to turn dark, but Roy didn't give him the
chance to complete the transformation. He kept up the inferno driving the fire
under the hardening skin to roast the inner organs and crack the stone within
Greed's heart.

Even as Greed burned Roy saw Ed and Al move in, driving
spears they hadn't possessed seconds before deep into the creatures flesh.

Almost too soon for it to be properly cathartic, Greed
shattered. His flesh fell apart like ashes in the wind and there was nothing
but scorched mark on the floor, a ruined chair and desk and bits of burning
paper fluttering about the air.

"It's done," said Ed reaching out a hand to clap Roy on
the shoulder. "Now we can forget about it."

"Yes," said Roy. "Already forgotten," he lied.


The Elric boys must be made of adamantine, Roy concluded three sleepless nights
later. Either that, or I'm made of tissue paper.

Roy pushed aside the covers on his bed and stood up once
more to check the locks on his windows and doors. Again they were secure, as
were the trip wires he'd rigged to sound if someone were to force entry.

Returning from his rounds he stopped by the bathroom to
wash the sweat off his face. It wasn't a hot night, but after so long in the
cold his body couldn't seem to adjust to the warmth.

Earlier that day, Riza had told him she was happy to see
him back to normal. But normal wasn't even close to what he felt. He played
the part of the Colonel as best he could, but under the thinnest skin was a
layer of anger and fear that seemed to persist no matter how he tried to resolve
it.

Everywhere in his house were reminders that Roy was anything
but normal. The bathroom mirror was covered over by newspaper and masking tape.
In the morning he'd pull it down to shave, but then cover it up again as soon
as he could afterwards.

He couldn't do the same thing for the rest of the world.
Lately he'd become only too aware of how many reflective surfaces one encountered
in the course of walking from one place to another. Every time he saw his face,
his body surged with adrenaline and for a second he'd worry that Greed was back.

To think, once he'd liked to look at himself in a mirror.
Now his reflection was painful.

No matter how often he told himself Greed was gone forever,
that he'd seen the thing die with his own eyes, he just couldn't believe it.
And if Greed didn't make his waking life misery enough, he made Roy's sleep
pure hell.

In his waking moments his mind looped endlessly over the
acts he'd been forced to perform and the horrors Greed threatened. In his sleep,
Greed always followed through, disposing of Al, murdering Riza. And Ed would
be there lying broken in a corner of the room begging for Roy to stop.

The fourth time Roy woke up that night, it was to the
alarm of his tripwires being set off.

His eyes flew open, and he held out his gloved hands (for
he'd taken to sleeping with the gloves on) ready to snap.

"Don't bother," came an androgynous voice. "I'm not here
to hurt you." Roy fumbled for the lamp and switched it on. Yellow light bathed
the room.

Roy sat up and stared at the Sin standing by the foot
of his bed. "That's good, because I've taken out two of you now. I wouldn't
mind making it three." He hoped he had the willpower to follow up his words.
He hoped even more the homunculus wouldn't test his resolve.

Envy snorted. "As if you could. But I'm not here to fight
you. I'm here to negotiate."

"Negotiate?"

"Negotiate," confirmed Envy. "You keep your mouth shut
about Wrath, and I won't eviscerate your underlings. Does it sound like a deal?"

"Why," said Roy.

Envy raised an eyebrow. "Why am I negotiating with you?
Or why should you care about your underlings?"

"Why now," Roy felt anger bloom in him. "Why not a month
ago, before all this started."

Envy sighed. "You know Roy, sometimes things seem like
a good idea at the time. All my Master's Greeds have been problematic, they
rarely last. Usually Father has to unmake them. They are too GREEDY you see.
Too independent. They don't take orders well. This one was the worst of all,
and so he didn't even last a month."

"Hohenheim is not upset we destroyed him?"

"Eh, saved us the effort." Envy shrugged. "But this is
beside the point. Will you take our offer?"

"Yes," said Roy quickly, knowing the creature couldn't
tell if he was lying or not. It was strangely powerful feeling. Sure he'd stay
quiet about Wrath... openly. But with a bit more care this time, he'd build
up his side. Roy felt a trickle of his old ambitions seeping back in. It was
wonderful.

"Good." Envy stood up. "Now don't go imploding on us,
Colonel. We still need you. But we can wait to collect you up when the time
is right."

Roy clenched his jaw. I survived that once. I can survive
it again. If it comes to pass at all.

"In the meantime, sleep well." Envy slipped back out the
open window. Roy quickly drew the arrays to repair the window and reset his
traps, but the act seemed hollow and unnecessary.

Hohenheim had been cowed. Roy had won. For the first time
in weeks, Roy smiled a true smile. The smile that belonged to his old self.
When Roy curled under the covers again, he fell asleep quickly. This time there
were no dreams and strangely enough, Roy did, indeed, sleep well.