velvet mace


chapter 11.

Pride watched the soldiers jump from the back of the truck into the dark stillness of predawn. The air smelled wet and faintly of motor oil. Only the sound of boots hitting the pavement, and the soft rustle of uniforms broke up the intense quiet.

The building seemed empty. The bar attached to the front was closed down and still. The windows of the second floor were black. Archer directed the men with quiet words and gestures until they had set up a perimeter around the block.

Pride leaned against the warm hood of a car, away from the action and smiled.

Archer's form wasn't bad. This was the first time Bradley'd seen the Major in action—the first time he'd really deigned to notice the man. The thin, pale officer had an intensity about him that the men under him respected. He wasn't as bright as Hughes, nor as perceptive, but he also wasn't as soft. There was no sentimental fear for his own troops. Pride saw potential in that.

He watched Archer turn and walk back to one of the cars. The Major opened the door, as if in deference to the one inside. A moment later. out climbed a tall, stick-thin man. The Crimson Alchemist, Zwolf Kimbly, the man who specialized in transmuting human flesh into explosives. He looked as dangerous as he was, greasy long hair was tied back in a ponytail, his uniform unbuttoned, a cruel calculating smile on his face. Kimbly stretched as if to show off the alchemical tattooes on his bare hands. Then reached over and patted Archer on the cheek in a way that was more threatening than familiar.

Archer didn't flinch. Brave man, Pride thought. Few commanders would want to work with Kimbly. Though the man was one of the most powerful ever to ever become a state alchemist, his usefulness was balanced by his almost utter lack of respect for anyone. Kimbly was a weapon, all right. A very powerful, useful weapon, but difficult to aim. If Archer could control him—that made Archer a very useful person indeed.

Pride allowed his normal eye to drift over the dark lines of the building and grow unfocused. His other eye, the one he hidden behind the patch, he now trained on the Archer and Kimbly.

His perspective was now free of his physical body. He closed in and watched the two interact. Though sadly he couldn't hear their words, he'd come quite proficient through the years at reading lips.

"So," said Kimbly unfolding the hand-drawn map , "Let me get this straight. I should go in alone and defuse all of these arrays, that may or MAY NOT be where this kid drew them, all the while fighting monsters who are stronger and tougher than normal humans—oh and a homunculus who can't be killed."

"I have every confidence in your abilities," said Archer smoothly, "It isn't necessary that you KILL the inhabitants, though of course you are free to try. Radio in as you clear a room and I will send in the troops to deal with those inside."

Kimbly quirked a half smile up. "You make this sound so fucking easy, Archer. It's not. So I'm wondering, what do I get out of this?"

"My undying admiration. And my continued support. And—" Archer gave him a knowing wink. "A blind eye towards the messes you've been getting yourself in. You owe me, Zwolf. I was the one to get you out of prison. You had a death sentence. If I hadn't manipulated the paperwork, you would have been put in front of a firing line years ago."

Kimbly shoulders heaved and his head rocked back in grim humor. Pride could hear his laughter breaking the early morning silence. "So I should risk my life out of gratitude for you saving my life? That doesn't make much sense now does it."

Archer's confidence seemed to waver a bit. The small tight smile was gone and he stared at the other with dull eyes. "Kimbly, we need you. I need you."

Kimbly's smiled. "What do I care of your needs?"

Archer opened his mouth, closed it, then shrugged and moved away. "I can't make you do anything you don't want. However, I can find that paperwork that went missing. You can enjoy the rest of your life from a jail cell."

"Threats, threats... I really have you worried don't I?" Kimbly laughed. "Oh, I won't fuck up your little plan here. I want to do this."

Archer arched an eyebrow. "Really?"

"Yeah," said Kimbly. "I wanna meet the alchemist that can design such pretty weapons. And I wanna see the man that can keep such an alchemist in line."

"Excellent," said Archer. "Then you should go in now."

Bradley watched Kimbly enter the building through the bar. He wondered if the alchemist really had the focus and control to keep himself from setting off the traps before he could disarm them. Apparently he could. Kimbly moved from spot to spot through the rooms, with efficient ease. Pausing only to hold his small flashlight in his mouth and examine the map, crossing off the arrays he'd found.

Satisfied that there would be no show, Bradley allowed his eye to move off. Greed and his people were naturally long gone, but not safe. No not at all. No matter how far Greed ran, Pride could always find him. He was only a moments worth of concentration away.

It had been about four months since Pride had last checked on his wayward "brother." At the time, Greed hadn't been doing anything at all exciting. Dante was only the mildly interested in Greed's criminal enterprise. As long as Greed wasn't interfering in any of her projects she was content to let her creation be for the moment. She had bigger projects to worry about.

Dante would be less than thrilled to hear of Greed's current caper. Stealing a State Alchemist—and a high ranking one at that—-
was a very brazen move. The message given to Hughes was nothing short of a challenge to Dante herself. Mess with Greed and his family and Greed would mess with Pride and his.

Pride remembered Greed's narrow face and angular features. It took a little concentration but soon a room took form Pride's eye. Four people resolved themselves. Pride smiled. Oh, my. My, my, my, my, my. Someone was getting an early start on the day now wasn't he?

The attic was dim, but Pride could clearly make out the participants. There was Mustang, the young upstart, the smooth, careful, tactical genius. He didn't look much like a genius now. In fact, he was hardly recognizable lying there on his stomach, undressed, bound, smeared with sperm and what was that thing strapped firmly to his body? A sex toy of some sort. Greed hadn't wasted much time in thoroughly despoiling his hostage.

Pride felt himself pulled between amusement at Mustang's predicament and outrage that Greed would dare presume to mock the military in such a flagrant way. Amusement won out. There was something strangely fitting about the untouchable Mustang being so thoroughly touched. Pride felt a tweak of regret that he hadn't been the one to do it himself, though to be truthful, he would have chosen to cut Mustang down to size with his literal sword rather than his metaphorical one.

It was deliciously ironic that out of all the soldiers in the army, Greed would choose Mustang to vent his displeasure on. Dante hadn't allow Pride to take out the Colonel, despite his obvious traitorous plans. She insisted that unless Mustang actually DID something that endangered Dante's plans, he was simply too useful to scrap. The Colonel, all gossip aside, had never actually threatened Pride's position as Fuhrer. Useful or not, if Archer and Hughes took a while to catch up to Greed, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

Pride watched Greed affectionately muss Mustang's hair, then leave the room. Pride considered following him, but then hesitated, drawn by the two strange boys in the room. They fit the description of Hohenheim's children. Dante would be very interested in their existance. He memorized their appearance so that he could look in on them at a later time.

Pride allowed his eye to move further scanning the house. He identified the chimeras, but saw no sign of the one called Sloth. He frowned.

The sun peaked over the roof tops coloring the scattered clouds purple and pink. The building remained as quiet as ever, but up and down the street there were noises of the day beginning. Shutters being opened up, then hastily shut again. Doors opening, and people peaking out. The soldiers, now complacent, were talking to each other in hushed tones.

Inside the building Kimbly had finished had moved on to the basement. He stood running his hands possessively over an array scroll, his mouth turned up in a thin lipped grin. He tossed the scroll away in a corner and began walking back towards the stairs.

Movement caught the attention of his normal eye, and he focused in again on what was in front of him. Archer was walking in his direction. The young officer's eyes were half-lidded, and he smiled calmly. "Sir," he said. "It appears Greed and his people have already left."

Pride knew this, but he nodded and gave the man one of his disarming grins. "That is too bad. And Mustang?"

"There is no sign of him so far, they must have taken him with them."

"I have a feeling that they are long gone, Major."

Archer nodded. "That is my suspicion as well. Should we still continue the raid?"

Pride shook his head. "An investigative team might be a better choice, once your alchemist has given the all clear."

Kimbly gave the all clear not long after that. Pride immediately headed towards the door, but Archer caught his arm. Pride turned and gave the thinner shorter man a piercing look. As expected Archer dropped his arm and stepped back, his eyes drifting submissively towards the floor. "Forgive me, sir," he said. "It may not be safe yet. Allow my men to complete their investigations."

"Nonsense," said Pride, with genuine amusement. Of all the people walking into the building, he was the one best equipped to survive a trap, should he come across one. He assessed the Major. "I have my own reasons for wanting to look in there, Lt. Colonel Archer."

Archer blinked and met his eye with surprise at the sudden promotion. "I—" he said.

"You will continue to work in conjunction Hughes and he will remain in the lead of this investigation, but I think the success of this raid proves your worth."

"Th-thank you, sir. Your faith in me is not misplaced."

"You just keep Kimbly under control. I have a feeling we will be needing him."

"Yes, sir," said Archer. "I will do whatever it takes."

"See that you do."

Pride walked slowly through the hallways of Greed's rambling home. He paused to look at the pictures on the walls. There were surprisingly few photographs or portraits that would aid Pride in his own private investigations. Sighing with disappointment he double backed past the library to Greed's office. Archer was already there, looking through the files.

Pride's eyes slid over the large mahogany desk, there were some photographs sitting propped along one end. Pride took a seat in the large leather chair and lifted each of the photographs up. The two alchemists he recognized easily enough. The three chimeras were also easy to identify. Ah, and there was the final elusive, and perhaps most interesting member of Greed's inner circle.

Pride held the picture and leaned back in the chair. Sloth seemed pretty and benign, but he had no doubt she was a dangerous foe. So many questions surrounded her existence. Who had made her? How had she come to be with Greed? And how had her creation NOT been detected by Dante?

The description of her watery shape was intriguing, but worrisome. How tough an opponent would she be in a fight?

Dante would not be pleased with Pride. It was his job to keep an eye on his siblings, and he had failed. He would need to call her soon and let her know what was happening. Putting it off would only anger her more—however, having something better than a vague description of this new Sin would be better than simply reporting her existence.

Pride let his "eye" wander. The photograph was invaluable. He felt his vision being pulled nearly 150 miles north to a small farming community far off the major highways and train routes. His vision focused in on a neat farmhouse surrounded by cow pastures and outbuildings. A late model silver coupe looked distinctly out of place on the rutted dirt driveway.

Prides vision flowed past the thickly insulated walls to the kitchen. There stood Sloth, wearing a dress made of the black carbon filaments that characterized the homunculi. The mark of the Gate was prominent on her exposed upper breast. Pride often wondered what reasons the Gate had for allowing the creation of the Sins. The Gate had its own rules, and even Dante wasn't privvy to them.

Sitting by Sloth's feet were three figures, looking hunched and miserable on the kitchen tile: a grizzled middle aged man, a woman who didn't appear much younger, and a man of about thirty. They watched Sloth pace the room with pale faces.

She smiled, "I can tell if you lie," she said to them. "Do you expect anyone else today?"

"No," said the farmer.

"No more hired hands? This is it?"

"This is it. Listen. There is money in the dresser. Just pull out the lowest drawer, it's there. Just take it and go."

Sloth raised an eyebrow. "What makes you think I want to rob you?"

The woman spoke up. "What else could you want?" she said.

"I want to borrow your house."

"Our house is yours. Let us go and we'll leave right now."

Sloth smiled slowly. "Now, you don't think it would be as easy as that."

"You can rent it. Five hundred cenz and its yours," said the older man. The wrinkles lining his mouth were deep and his grey eyes stared into Sloth's with a mixture of dignity of fear. "We don't want to cause you any trouble. We'll get out of your way."

Sloth went down on her knee in front of him and took his chin in her hand. "I think you are just going to call the police as soon as you leave. That would be what I would do if I were you. Yes. I'd promise me anything, money, the house, anything to get away and then I'd attack as soon as I was safe." She lifted her hand and touched his graying hair, smoothing it away from his face.

"There is really only one way I can be certain you won't cause me any troubles."

Her hand slid down to cover his mouth and nose. She leaned in, wrapping one arm around his shoulders and whispering in his ear. "Do you believe in God?"

The man jerked and shuddered in her grip.

"Leave him alone!" screamed the woman.

Sloth's eyes slid over to her and she cocked her head, watching the woman's reaction. "Do YOU believe in God?" Sloth asked. "If you answer correctly, I might spare his life."

"Yes. Yes we do," she said with firm conviction.

"Then you probably believe in an afterlife, where good souls go."

The woman faltered. "Yes."

"That's very sweet," said Sloth. The man went limp. "But I don't. There is nothing but death. The soul disappears. I should know, after all. I've been dead."

"Please spare his life," she said.

"What would you give me for it?" asked Sloth.

"Everything. The house, all our money, anything you wanted."

Sloth shrugged, "But I already have all that." She laid the man back. "But we'll see. If he breathes when I let him go, I'll let him live." She drew her hand back. Pride noticed an extrusion of water extending from the palm of her hand like three tentacles. Two snaked up into the man's nostrils, the larger one burrowed between his gaping jaws. The man's head snapped back as the last of the water retreated. His mouth remained slack.

For a moment no one spoke. "Well," said Sloth after a long minute. "I guess it's too late for him."

The woman's eyes grew huge. Her jaws stretched open hugely. Pride imagined her screams must have been quite loud.

Sloth's brows drew together in annoyance. She reached over and grabbed the woman's head between her hands and twisted quickly. The woman went limp and fell over onto the man's knees.

Finally Sloth turned to the younger man. "Do you have anything you can give me in turn for your life."

"What would you like?" asked the man. He looked at the floor, his jaws tense.

"How about a kiss to start," said Sloth. The man looked up and met her eyes. His mouth hung open with surprised. She leaned in and ran her tongue over his lips. Her victim unfroze and jerked backwards as the homunculus' tongue grew clear and lengthened, sliding between his slack lips for a moment.

The man shuddered, but then his eyes seemed to focus. A look of determination crossed his face and he closed his lips about that intrusion. Pride watched his throat work, and saw his tongue slide out of his own mouth to caress the watery appendage.

Brutal, thought Pride.

Sloth pulled back and looked him over, smiling. "It's a strong man who can accept my caresses. Are you a strong man?"

"Yes, ma'am," said the man.

Sloth pushed the poor man on to his back. Her fingers rippled down the front of his shirt growing translucent at the tips. Pride watched as the buttons of his workshirt popped and flew in different directions. The man stared up at her, looking grim and frightened, but determined. She continued undressing him, pushing his pants and underwear down past his knees.

"If you cooperate COMPLETELY, I will let you go," Sloth promised.

"Yes ma'am."

"Do you believe me?" she asked, smiling that quirky smile.

"What point would there be in not believing you?" he said.

"None at all.."

Sloth stood up and stretched. As she did the black dress dissolved into her flesh leaving her deliciously bare. Pride took a deep breath in. Truly magnificent. She rivaled Lust in her feminine beauty. Her hands dropped down, gracefully, sliding over the curves of her own body in a sensual manner, when they reached her waist, she shrugged up her shoulders and tossed her head a little. The hair which had been tied back a moment before suddenly came loose and flowed about her shoulders.

The young man sucked in a breath and blinked a little.

Sloth smiled. "I'm really not that hard to imagine sleeping with am I? It will be a nice change to take a willing man. One who will cooperate with me. I can take you in my monster form—so easily, but there really isn't all that much carnal pleasure in that. It's more an intellectual pursuit. This morning, I'd like to feel like a woman. Do you think you can do that for me?"

The man nodded.

"Excellent." purred Sloth.


Kimbly broke Prides revere. Pride looked up from the picture with his normal eye and saw the Alchemist eyeing him over with challenging indifference. Pride met his eyes and challenged back with the coldest most intense gaze he could muster. Most men crumbled under such scrutiny, but Kimbly only quirked the corners of his mouth up.

Such arrogance. Think you are untouchable, just because you are capable of destroying things with the mere touch of your bare hands? How na´ve.

Archer sensed the tension between the two and stepped smoothly in to defuse it. "Ah, Kimbly what can I do for you?"

Kimbly's eyes reluctantly slid over to Archer, then his smile grew deeper and more genuine. "I have something that I thought you might discuss with you."

Archer looked briefly back at Pride and then tucked the folder back into the cabinet. "If you will excuse me, Sir."

"Not at all," said Pride waving him on. Having a bit of privacy was a good idea. He needed to make that call to Dante soon, and he couldn't very well let the Major—Lt. Colonel—eavesdrop.

Archer followed Kimbly out of the room. Pride watched them, vaguely wondering how long Kimbly would be keeping Archer. If it was something brief, there was no point in even picking up the phone.

Kimbly led Archer up the grand staircase to the second floor. He opened the first door he came to and ordered the soldier within out. The soldier looked to Archer who shrugged.

"Why don't you continue your inventory in the basement," Kimbly suggested. "There were some drawers down there, in the back corner next to the big work table. I don't believe anyone has looked through those."

Archer again nodded, and the soldier saluted and left.

"Are you taking over my job now," asked Archer, amused, as the soldier left. He looked around the room. Kimbly had picked the master bedroom to hold his conference. In addition to a large bed, there were chairs, a couch, a desk and doors leading to further rooms. Archer sat down on the couch, idly picking up a book left lying next to him.

"I have absolutely no interest in taking over your job," said Kimbly. "But I have an interest in you." Kimbly walked over to the door and locked it.

Archer lifted an eyebrow. "There is something you need to speak to me about?"

"Indeed there is, Archer."

"And that would be?"

"My payment. For services rendered." Kimbly crossed his arms and stood in front of the door.

"Really," said Archer slowly. "I thought we'd already been over that."

"Well, I believe I mentioned I wanted to see the Alchemist who made these arrays and his master. I didn't get to see either. That's a lot of work for me to go through—a lot of DANGER to put myself in for no reward."

"I will see to it that a generous payment is placed in your account. You can spend it on whatever you deem worthwhile." Archer looked vaguely around the room. He ran a hand idly over the leather back of the couch.

"What I want, money won't buy me."

There was a sudden very loud noise that jolted both Archer and Pride. Pride allowed his ultimate eye to scan the building for its source, quickly coming to a headless body in the basement. It was the soldier that Kimbly had directed out of the room. Pride brought his eye back to Kimbly, who was, sure enough, smiling.

Archer wasn't.

"Oops, I suppose I missed one," said Kimbly with false innocence. "Oh now don't tell me you give a rat's ass about that soldier."


"Because I'm not as stupid as you seem to think I am." Kimbly stepped away from the door, his hands out and open where Archer could get a good look at them. "If I were to turn your head into a bomb, well I imagine it wouldn't look all that different from that soldier's right now."

Archer sucked in a breath and put his hand down near his gun. "What do you want Kimbly?"

Kimbly ran his long fingers under Archer's jaw. "You've been fucking with my mind Archer. Don't think I haven't noticed. You think you can own me, make me into your weapon? You think threats work against me? You think I'm afraid to go back to jail again?"

Archer didn't flinch as Kimbly's thumb swept over his lips. "Well, I'm not," Kimbly continued. "I don't give a flying fuck what happens to me after this minute. I never have. The only reason I do what you want me to is because I enjoy doing it. And because I enjoy you enjoying it."

Kimbly sat down on the couch next to Archer. "I've never met anyone as inhuman as you before. I must say it fascinates me. Your cold exterior, that calculating gaze. It makes me want to know what I can do to heat you up."

Kimbly's hand slid down to Archer's chest. He pressed the palm of his hand flat against the Archer's uniform, right over his heart. "So my offer is simple. I let you fuck my head, if you let me fuck your body."

Archer grabbed Kimbly's hand, and pushed it away. "Is that what this is about? If I cooperate with you, you will cooperate with me?" Archer's lips quirked up in a thin grin. "That seems a reasonable enough arrangement."

"You see, there you are," Kimbly sat back, crossing his arms across his chest. "Most people would cringe at the suggestion, you just accept it like I'm asking you to do my laundry."

"We each get our needs met, " said Archer. "It costs me nothing. Why should I object?"

There was another loud bang. Archer frowned. "How many did you leave intact?"

Kimbly shrugged. "Only the one. I guess that alchemist forgot to mention a few of his booby traps."

"I better—" Archer stood up abut Kimbly was right behind him, grabbing him from behind with a long arm.

"It is their own fault for thinking bad thoughts. My payment, Archer."

"Very well." Archer turned around. Kimbly grabbed him by the back of his neck and pulled him into a ferocious kiss. Archer stiffened, but then tilted his head to a more receptive angle, allowing his lips to part.

"Fuck," muttered Kimbly pulling away. "Cool to the core, aren't you?"

"If you prefer me to do something, you'll need to be specific."

"Take off your clothes," said Kimbly.

Archer snorted. "As you wish, but I doubt you'll see anything that worthy of your lust." He's fingers nimbly unbuttoned his coat and folded it over the arm of the sofa. The gun holster followed. Two tugs freed his brown undershirt from his pants and he pulled it over his head. Archer was thin boned, but not overly muscular. The grooves of his spine and the ridges of his ribs broke the long expanse of pale, nearly translucent flesh.

Kimbly's breath came in deeper. "Keep going."

Archer pulled his belt loose and then unbuttoned his fly. His hand hesitated over the zipper. "I must say, I didn't expect this from you. Is this a whim?"

Kimbly's fingers closed over Archer's and pulled the zipper down. "It's something that I've thought about since you first walked into my jail cell. Had I known you'd be so willing, I would have done this years ago. Continue, I want to see all of you."

Archer sat to pull off his shoes, placing them neatly side by side next to his coat and shirt. The pants and boxers followed. Archer arranged the stack of his clothes carefully, then turned to look at Kimbly with an idly raised eyebrow.

Archer wasn't particularly beautiful as men went. His legs were a bit too thin, his chest too narrow, his bones too prominent. He had a softness that more resembled a woman than a man. But he wasn't exactly ugly either. His skin was as near perfect as Pride had ever seen on a human: unblemished by moles or scars, smooth and almost sculptural in quality. Even the hair kept itself to neat patches. Pride would probably not have given him a second glance, but Kimbly clearly thought there was something particularly desirable about the officer.

The alchemist's eyes ran over Archer's flesh with heat that was nearly contagious. Pride could practically feel the lust coming off of him. Pride who had only been idly curious up to this point decided to forgo the phone call to watch the incident play out.

"I realize I'm not much to look at. If you wish to change your mind, I perfectly understand."

"On the contrary," breathed Kimbly, pulling the other close again and running his hands possessively up and down his flanks. "You are fucking magnificent."

There was another loud bang.

Archer flinched. "Ignore it," said Kimbly. "On the bed."

Archer walked over to the bed then hesitated. "I am not very—experienced in this. I hope you don't have high expectations."

"Are you saying you are a virgin? At your age?" Kimbly pushed him down on his back on the mattress. "You are brave to agree to something without knowing what you are getting into."

Archer tilted his head, nonchalantly. "I have read books. I understand the principals." He wiggled a bit as if to get into a more comfortable position. "I don't suppose I can hope for lubrication. Or would you prefer my hand or mouth?"

Kimbly laughed and climbed on top of Archer. "Nah, I don't trust your mouth. Maybe sometime, we can try that. Because you know, I do plan on doing this again, " he stroked the side of Archers face pausing to press his palm against Archer's cheek. The threat was unmistakeable, but fleeting. "But lube, I can get you that. In fact I saw some right over here when I was looking around earlier." Kimbly rolled off to pull open the drawer of the night table. He pulled out a bottle of sexual lubricant, and then a pair of handcuffs.

Archer pulled himself up on his elbows. "Really, do you think those are necessary? I'm willing."

"I don't give a fuck if you are willing Archer. In fact, I don't give a fuck what you want. You are mine. Do you understand that? If I want to see you tied up and at my mercy, if that's what makes me hot, I'm going to do it. That's the deal. I'm your alchemist, and you are my toy. If you are lucky when I'm done with you, I won't blow you up."

Archer chest expanded suddenly. Then he let out the breath slowly. "You want me quivering with fear, or melting in passion?"

Kimbly threaded the cuffs between a convenient rung in the headboard, then grabbed first one wrist and then the other, trapping them in the encircling metal. "I'm going to fucking make you writhe, I swear, by the time we are done, that cold exterior of yours is going to break and I'm going to see the real you."

"You can try your best," said Archer. "But I'm afraid I'm not an overly emotional person."

Kimbly buried his face in Archers neck. Pride had difficulty making out the words. "You just haven't had the right partner, baby."

Archer's eyes began to close and his head tilted back a bit, before he seemed to catch himself. Pride stared into Archer's eyes and wondered how much of Archer's acquiescence was directly due to the promotion Pride had just given him—a promotion that hinged on Archer being able to control Kimbly. Pride wasn't sure whether to feel guilty at putting the man in such a position, or proud that he in some way brought two so obviously compatible people together.

Kimbly's mouth ranged everywhere over Archers pale skin. Pride could see Archer's brows knit, as if he were having difficulty processing some information. Kimbly's lips found a nipple, and the Lt. Colonel's eyes closed and he arched his back. A slight pink flush graced Archer's sharp cheeks, and he was breathing quickly and deeply.

'What do you—what do you want me to do?" Archer asked.

Kimbly jerked up and fascined his mouth over Archer's. This time the kiss was less forced and more mutual. Archer turned away first, catching a breath that didn't seem to satisfy. He was definitely blushing now. Kimbly rose up on his arms and took him in again. "Why I do think there is some blood in you."

Pride could see indeed there was something pumping through Archer's veins. The man's penis, which had been lying slack and pale as the rest of him, had taken on a faint tan, and had stirred to standing. This detail wasn't lost on Kimbly either, he reached down and grabbed it yanking with a roughness that couldn't have been that comfortable.

Kimbly kissed his way down from Archer's lips to his shoulder, then opened his jaws wide and sunk his teeth into the meat. Archer's mouth opened wide in a scream and even through the floor Pride found he could hear the muffled sound.

"Did that hurt?" Kimbly asked.

"Yes," said Archer blinking. He shrugged his bleeding shoulder up, as if trying to press it against his neck. "Why did you do that?"

"Because I could, Archer," said Kimbly as though this were a stupid question. "Your clothes will cover it. And if it leaves a scar? Well so much the better."

Archer's erection had faded, but that didn't stop Kimbly from attempting to pump it. After a few seconds with no success, the alchemist let it go briefly to reach for the lube. He poured a generous amount over his hand and resumed stroking Archer again.

Still hissing a bit, Archer rocked his hips into Kimbly's hand. "You like this" Kimbly stated. "Better than your own hand, isn't it? You wouldn't have felt anyone elses would you?" he said. "Only mine."

Archre moaned a little then opened his eyes. "Is that important to you?"

Kimbly suddenly snarled and slapped Archer's face. Then went back to stroking his crotch as though nothing had happened.

"What was that about?" asked Archer, a bit angry.

"Stop questioning me," Kimbly said. "I don't need to explain myself to you."

Archer was having difficulty keeping his composure.

"Yes, I like the fact that I'm here first. I like iit even more that I will be here last." Kimbly paused to lick the blood off Archer's shoulder. The officer jerked his shoulder a bit, but then relaxed. Pride watched Archer frown. Kimbly resumed talked, "I am your last, you know. Because if I ever catch you even looking at another man or woman, I'm going to kill them. I'm going to blow them right up in front of you. And then I'm going to blow you up. I don't even want you THINKING of another person. When you jack off, I want it to be my face in your mind. My hand, my mouth, my cock making you hard. "

Kimbly sat up, pausing only slightly in the rhythm of his hand against Archer's cock. "You know what, I don't even want you doing that. From now on, I don't even want you wanking off. Your body is mine, and you'll only come when I tell you to. But don't worry, I'll take care of you."

"If this is what you wish," said Archer. Pride could see the slight shaking of his lips that signaled that he was not as collected as his words would make him seem.

"You like danger," murmured Kimbly. "I can see it in your eye. Nothing gets you more exited than a scary situation. You like the idea of having life and death at your fingertips, and you like the idea of me having your life in the palms of my hands. Kimbly once again pressed his hand against Archer's heart. "It's so easy to blow people up, you know. It's almost hard NOT to."

"Unless you are interested in screwing a corpse, I wouldn't recommend it."

"Nah, I won't kill you," Kimbly pulled his hand away. "I want to feel your warmth. The warmth you've been hiding all this time."

The hand, still slick slid down between Archer's thighs. Archer hitched in a deep breath again, but then spread his legs obediently. He was still hard but the expression on his face was more resigned than exited.

Pride knew the moment when Kimbly penetrated him. Archer suddenly arched his back and his mouth flew open. His eyes stared widely at the ceiling.

'"I've found it," said Kimbly, the look in his eyes was of a man intoxicated. "Damn you are hot. Boiling. It's all hidden beneath the skin, but it's there. Yeah, look at your face, you love this."

Archer pulled his head to one side, as if negating Kimbly's words. He flushed deeply and panted.

"I think I've finally found an erogenous spot on you," said Kimbly chuckling. "It figures that a man as deeply repressed as you would be so very—sensitive—down here." Archer cried out again, and Kimby grinned. "Yeah, you really like that, don't you? Well, don't you worry, I have a whole lot more of that for you."

He pulled his hand away and finally touched his own clothes, He unbuckled and unzipped his pants and brought out his own erection. He gave Archer a chance to look at it, while he poured more lube into the palm of his hand and began stroking himself.

"Ready or not," said Kimbly. "Here I come." And with that he grabbed Archer's thighs and pulled them far apart. Lifting Archer's entire lower half off the mattress, Kimbly thrust into the man.

Again Pride could hear Archer's cry through the floor. Pride wondered what Archer's men might think of it.

Kimbly was not a gentle lover. Pride hadn't really expected him to be, but it still took him a bit by surprised at the sheer animal ferocity of it. Archer writhed under him, whether it was in pleasure or in a desire to escape the assault Pride couldn't tell. It couldn't have been that horrible, for Archer remained very hard through it. After a minute or two Kimbly's pace seemed to slacken a bit, slowing from a purely vicious attack to a more leisurely comfortable fuck. He reached a hand over Archer's belly and resumed stoking him. Archer closed his eyes and lips moved in time with Kimbly's thrusts. It seemed for a long time the two had reached something of a plateau.

Another explosion echoed through the building. Archer tensed, his eyes opened, and semen shot across his belly and chest in four long spurts.

"That's what I fucking love about you, Archer," said Kimbly, "You are just as turned on by death as I am. You should see yourself, your face is red, your skin is wet with sweat and come. You are mine, and you like it."

Kimbly smiled and then quickened his pace again and finished himself. "Fuck. That was heaven."

"Then I take it you aren't going to blow me up," said Archer, gasping for breath.

"Nah, not this time."

Pride took a deep breath and realized he too was somewhat flushed. There must be something in the air, he thought, amused. When he got home, the Wife better not be out shopping. Pride gave himself a quick squeeze. Then shoved the thought away.

It was time to give Dante a call. He really could put it off no longer. He gave all the key players in this drama one last look to finalize his report.

Mustang had found sleep, even in his sore and debauched state. Once again, Pride found himself inordinately pleased to see how completely Greed had managed to degrade his rival. And as for that wayward sibling, there he was, also asleep, a floor down.

Far away, Sloth stood next to a deep hole in one of the pastures, not too far from the house. She threw aside the shovel, and reached down to throw the first of three sheet-wrapped bundles into the pit.

Closer by Hughes lay curled in a hotel room bed, his arms reaching sleepily for a wife who had already risen and was dressing.

Above him Kimbly washed himself in the sink while Archer stepped into the shower. Pride heard the almost musical sound of water flowing through the pipes in the wall.

Pride wished he could crawl into bed like everyone else, but he had a job to do. He didn't relish the thought of Dante's reaction. Dante didn't like it when unscripted excitement happened. She had enough on her plate without having to deal with a huge influx of new faces. Still, some of those faces did have potential.

In a burst of inspiration, Pride thought of a positive spin to put on this fiasco. His eye backtracked briefly to Greed's safe house. Looking away from Mustang for a minute, he gazed over at the two blonde teens lying curled together on a bed. They looked very young and innocent, and not at all like the kind who could create such destructive arrays. And yet they had Light Hohenheims genes, his talent, his potential.

Pride dialed the number. An old woman's voice answered the phone.

"Dante," said Pride. "I think I may have found your alchemists."