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velvet mace

Pawns

chapter 18. Betrayal

Al felt cruddy, but he sucked in a breath and steeled
his heart. He had become so accustomed to the predictable rhythm of work that
he actually found himself sorry that the project had reached it's final day.
After tonight, that routine would be gone forever. They had finished their last
dog. The next creature to get an array drawn on him would be a human. At least
it wouldn't be an innocent.

"Hey, Midnight," he said as the guard took the others
back to their cell. "I've got some beer up in my room. Wanna celebrate?"

"Sure," said Midnight, smiling broadly. "What about your
girlfriend?"

"Winry is going out with the girls at work tonight. So
it's just you and me."

Midnight accepted that rather too easily. Al almost wished
he'd show a little skepticism. Save yourself, he wanted to say.
Don't trust me.
But Midnight merely followed docilely along as Al led him
up to his room.

Midnight had launched into a monologue about women. Al
nodded and made comments where he felt they should be. He was distracted. He
poured over all the steps. Was he missing anything? He hoped not because there
was no time to change anything.

Al caught the man looking vaguely around his apartment.
Al had not decorated the place. He had no personal effects, and he'd used up
his money on food and that stupid tattoo machine. Other than his uniforms, he
had no other clothes. He didn't even have a wallet—his had been left with
his discarded clothes back in the workroom of his shop.

Al wondered what had become of the shop. Had it been rented
out to someone else? Somehow he suspected that he'd never work there again.
It seemed like his bridges were always being burned, no matter how he felt in
the matter.

There was certainly no going back after this.

Midnight was talking about something. Work. Arrays. Al
really should listen. He should smile. Midnight was going to suspect something
was up otherwise. Al did his best.

"Would you like a beer?"

"Sure," said Midnight, absently. He was looking out the
window now. It was raining. You could hardly see anything it was so dark.

Al pulled out two beers. He held the one with the torn
label out to Midnight. Then went looking for the bottle opener. He popped his
own beer then handed the opener over to the older man who unsealed his without
a second thought.

Midnight didn't hesitate before starting to drink. He
didn't seem to notice anything odd about it. Al guessed that the drug really
didn't have a flavor after all.

Al asked about the upcoming Alchemists exam. That got
Midnight talking again. He went into great details about his own experiences
with it, four years before. Al listened and waited, noticing how Midnight's
voice started to slur after about ten minutes.

Fifteen minutes in, Midnight had drained his beer and
Al had offered him another. He sipped his own beer carefully. As much as he
would have liked to have blurred the edges of his conscience, he had to be icy
sober for this. Midnight deserved nothing less than the most careful treatment.

Twenty minutes in Midnight was definitely having difficulty
with his words. He broke mid-sentence, suddenly forgetting what he was talking
about.

"The other alchemist made a giant tree," Al prompted.
"But it didn't impress anyone."

Midnight's eyes flashed. "Yeah, huge. Took up nearly the
entire space... Strange." He paused. "You know I think I'm drunk." He looked
at his beer. He was only a quarter of the way through it. "I guess it's been
a while since I drank. We've been so busy."

Al caught the beer before it slipped out of Midnight's
hand. "Why don't you sit down," suggested Al, guiding his boss, not to the chair,
but to the bed. Midnight didn't seem to question this.

"Kinda tired," the dark haired alchemist mumbled.

"It's ok, you've been working hard."

"I should go back to my room."

"No, no. Just lie down a bit, and it will be better."

Midnight seemed confused, but he complied. His eyes shut
and he seemed to go to sleep.

Oh, Roy, oh, Roy. "This Dog is a pain in the butt,
let's return the favor?" Really.

But it was as good an area as any. No one was likely to
see it there. Still it felt very strange to unbuckle his bosses belt, and unzip
his pants. Al rolled Midnight over and pulled both pants and boxers down to
his thighs.

Al could imagine what Winry would be saying right now
if she were here. It would be scandalously naughty. Honestly, the last thing
Al wanted to look at was Midnight's butt, but oh well. Roy owed him. Big time.

He went to work scrubbing disinfectant on the area. The
razor wasn't needed after all. He carefully drew the array on a surprisingly
hairless cheek. He then plugged the tattoo machine in and retraced his own lines.
Midnight barely stirred. Man, that drug was pretty potent. Al remembered his
tattoo as hurting quite a bit.

Al touched the array and activated it, using the barest
wisps of power. The lines flashed to light. "Key to my voice," said Al in Midnight's
ear. "I am Alphonse Elric. You will trust me entirely and obey my commands."

"Yes," muttered Midnight.

Good enough. He dressed the wound and pulled Midnight's
pants up again. Midnight didn't move. Three hours later, he still hadn't moved.
How long was that drug supposed to last?

Finally bedtime rolled around and Al faced a dilemma.
Rolling Midnight out of the bed seemed heartless. Plus, the guy weighed quite
a bit more than Al, and he wasn't sure he could lower the older man to the floor
without hurting him. He'd hurt Midnight enough for one night.

Al had only two choices left. He could either sleep on
the floor or he could share a bed with his boss. He opted to share. Winry would
have a field day with this.

The next morning Al was woken by a strangled scream and
opened his eyes to see Midnight sitting straight up in bed with a look of utter
horror on his face.

"What the HELL did I do last night!"

Al couldn't resist. "Aw, I'm hurt you don't remember."

The shock on Midnight's face was precious.

Owning

Midnight opened his eyes to find himself lying on his
stomach in a strange bed in a strange room. That wasn't good. It wasn't a hospital
room either. That was worse. Someone was snoring softly next to him. That was...
impossible.

He didn't remember anything after heading up to Al's room.
What on earth was going on?

He rolled over and found himself nose to nose with his
underling. He took in the kid's placid sleeping face and hissed in a deep breath
and jerked up like a jack in the box. A high gasping scream burst out of his
throat.

The kid was ten years younger than him.

The kid was under his command.

The kid was a GODDAMN BOY!

The kid was awake, stretching, large hazel eyes meeting
his with just the trace of smug satisfaction.

"What the HELL did I do last night!"

What on earth had possessed Midnight. Oh yes, possession
must be it, because never in a million years would he have gotten himself into
this position otherwise. Mustang could lust away at teenage boys, but Midnight
had no such moral failings. This was some sort of joke. Or a dream. Or a hallucination.

"Aw, I'm hurt you don't remember."

Midnight felt abject horror. Further details made themselves
numbingly known, like the fact his fly was open and his genitals were caught
somewhat uncomfortably in the waistband of his boxers. Like the fact his butt
hurt—a LOT.

No, no, no, no it just wasn't possible. "Oh, God," he
gasped. "I'm sorry!"

As if he'd said something either very wrong or very right,
Al's expression suddenly shifted to one of profound concern. "No. I'm sorry.
That was cruel of me. You didn't do anything Midnight. I drugged you."

"You... drugged me? Why?" Midnight backed up off the bed,
adjusting himself and closing his pants. This was just so wrong. It didn't make
sense. Al wouldn't drug him. Al couldn't hurt a goddamn rat.

There were other things wrong with this equation too,
things that didn't fit a seduction scenario. He was still wearing his uniform,
even his shoes. Who wore shoes to bed? And his butt hurt alright, but not the
way he would have thought it would if (good lord, was he actually contemplating
this?) someone had had his way with him last night. Rather his butt hurt like
someone had attacked it with a cheese grater.

"So that I could put an array on you."

No. Couldn't be. "What array?"

"The one we've been working on."

"No, " gasped Midnight. "Why does it hurt?" Could activating
an array cause that much pain. The dogs never seemed hurt. The rats either.
Something was wrong.

"I tattooed it on."

"No!" Midnight backed up until he hit a wall, then looked
sideways, seeing the bathroom he lunged towards it. He locked himself in. Oh
god, he was hiding himself like a schoolgirl. He was TERRIFIED of Al, a boy
so much younger and smaller than himself.

Tattooed on. He wouldn't be able to wash it off. It was
PERMANENT. Why? Why would Al do such a thing to him? He pulled down his pants
and tore off the bandage beneath. There was the array, in all its bloody glory.
He pressed the dressing back into place and pulled his clothes over it. He didn't
want to see it. He didn't want to believe it was there.

This was MUSTANG'S fate, not his. He'd done everything,
absolutely everything he'd been asked to. He'd been kind to Al. He thought the
kid liked him.

But the array didn't work, thought Midnight suddenly with
relief. Something had gone wrong, because he felt just the same. He wasn't under
any spell or compulsion. He wasn't anyone's pet. He was still himself. Scared
and mortified and ANGRY to be sure, but himself.

The doorknob rattled. "Midnight, let me in."

Midnight unlocked the door. "How dare you," he barked
at Al. "What on earth possessed you to think that this was a good idea?"

"Weren't you going to do this to us?"

"Well, yes. But I wasn't going to tattoo the damn thing
on you. I'd have washed it off as soon as I'd removed your memories of the project.
You and your brother wouldn't have been the worse for wear."

"And Roy?"

"His would have been permanent. Tattooed on, I guess.
But the man is a traitor. And an asshole. He deserves it."

"Then it was fair that I got to you first." Al said this
almost as if he was trying to convince himself.

Yes, it was fair. He planned on doing a horrible thing
to Al, his brother and Mustang, Al had merely beat him to it.

"I suppose so," He grudgingly admitted.

Al looked at the floor. "You forgive me." It was a statement
rather than a question, but there was a plaintive quality to it that suggested
that Al wasn't sure Midnight would. Midnight felt his heart soften. The shock
of the situation was slowly draining away, and he could see the kid that he
had tentatively identified as a friend again.

It had been a mistake, of course. A stupid mistake of
youth. As an adult, he should be the bigger man.

"It didn't work anyway, " said Midnight after a moment.
"Listen, I understand the pressure you were under when you did this. I've been
under a lot of pressure, too. I can forgive you for trying this. I'll go see
about getting it removed, then maybe we both can forget it."

Al met Midnight's eyes. "You won't tell anyone about this."

"Hell, NO!" said Midnight. He could imagine Ashfell's
face if he found out how badly Midnight had slipped up. He'd never hear the
end of it.

"And you wont get it altered or removed either," said
Al quietly.

Midnight realized that to do so would mean that someone
would know of his folly, and it would probably eventually get back to Ashfell.
He supposed it didn't matter that he had the tattoo. It wasn't in a visible
spot, and it didn't work after all.

"You want to help me and my friends."

"Of course, I do," said Midnight. "I've been doing nothing
but trying to advance your careers. Even Mustang will come out the better for
my efforts. He was facing execution before I came along. Now he'll live a full
and productive life, if under a bit of mind control from the Fuhrer."

"You don't like the Fuhrer."

"Of course not, the bastard has gotten us into a huge
ridiculous war, and he's been riding my ass on this project for months. But
he's the Fuhrer. Orders are orders."

"Yes," said Al faintly. "Orders are orders." Al's eyes
seemed to grow more brilliant. "I don't want Roy to be put under the Fuhrer's
control. You don't want that either."

"Well," admitted Midnight. "Personally, it rather disgusts
me, anyone owning anyone else like that."

"You don't mind..." said Al. His voice suddenly broke
but he sucked in a breath and started again. "You don't mind me owning you."

Midnight jerked and for a moment his world tipped on its
axis. For a second, he realized that the array was indeed working. But then
this thought, slippery as an eel, escaped him. His mind covered it's own tracks
and the pleasant whitewash of denial settled back in.

He liked the kid. Al was amazingly brilliant, and talented,
and there was goodness in him. Owning was a big word, but he didn't mind following
Al's suggestions. He didn't mind riding the kid's coattails. This kid was going
places. Good places. Places he could be part of if he followed along. Yes. He
could go for that.

Midnight smiled and wondered why Al was crying.