velvet mace


chapter 14.

The Bitch had some timing, thought Greed ruefully, as he dully draped his arm out the open window of the black sedan. Beside him Law sat, quietly, all his attention seemingly on the road. Of the chimeras, Law had always been the most sensitive to his moods; Martel never cared much unless his anger was directed at her, and Dorchet had faith that Greed could handle anything. Law had his doubts, and even though Greed tried to hide his frustration and fear behind his usual confidence the bull-human picked it up, and had gone on the defensive.

Ed and Al were oblivious. They sat in the back and chatted quietly to each other about the scenery. Greed stopped Law from ordering the kids to be quiet with a vague hand. The boy's hushed happy voices actually did lighten the mood a bit. They were awfully excited about seeing a few herds of ordinary sheep.

Perhaps it had been a bit too long since he'd allowed them to leave the house. Perhaps it was just that at their age, distractions came easily, and everything was novel. Maybe it was that after all the years of projecting an air of invincibility, they simply couldn't comprehend that anything could frighten Greed. If they had a clue what was going on in Greed's head right now, the silly sheep would be the last thing they'd be interested in.

Dante and her whims—Greed didn't want to think of the things he'd have to do in order to protect his family from the Bitch's games. But that was the trade off, wasn't it? His family followed his every command and in return they need fear no one but him. A good owner spares no expense to protect his collection. No, it was just as well the boys were happy. No one need bear this burden but Greed. He'd do whatever that bitch wanted to keep her blood-stained hands off his possessions.

Greed looked over at Law again. The chimera's brows were deeply furrowed, and his heavy muttonchops couldn't hide the deep scowl. I should say something to reassure him. "The house may look different, and there may be others, but you will be with me," said Greed. "I won't let her experiment on you."

Law's face smoothed a bit.

Greed let his arm drape further out of the open window, tapping the metal side with his fingertips, enjoying the tug of wind against his skin. It was a cloudy day and the temperature rather cool for summer. That was good, because otherwise he'd need to find some better traveling solution for Roy than the stifling trunk.

Greed fancied he could hear a faint high-pitched ringing sound over the engine. It was probably his imagination, but it pleased him anyway. He could imagine his project lying on the rough rug, blind, his sense of hearing reduced to the thrum of the motor, which at some point his brain would tune out as white noise. With his two primary senses essentially removed he would have no choice but to focus to the ones that were left. The mind simply couldn't handle emptiness. It needed to be filled with sensation. He would not be able to ignore the vibration of the car, and every bump and curve would perk up his senses.

The toy he'd selected to keep Roy entertained was insidious. Not only did the metal balls pick up every movement, they amplified them. The vibration would not remain steady, where Roy could tune it out, it would grow more or less intense depending on what the car did, and that unpredictable randomness would push through any mental filter Roy could attempt to erect.

Greed wondered if Roy would come from prolonged prostate stimulation alone. If he did, that would be very interesting. Few of Greeds previous projects had been able to achieve that at any age, and the ones who had had all been teenagers. It was far more likely that Roy would simply suffer hours of unrelieved sexual tension. Greed looked forward to hearing Roy beg for release, which in due time Greed would grant him.

Oh it was cruel, but it was a purposeful cruelty. A test of his new possessions mettle. A lesson in how many ways Greed could make him submit. But deeper than that, it was training on a nerve level. After enough of these experiences, Roy would begin to associate Greed with sexual stimulation, and become aroused at the mere thought of Greed's touch.

Once that happened, keeping Roy tethered to him would no longer require physical bonds. And with enough time and manipulation, the man would be his. Utterly and completely.

Something good was going to come out of this whole mess, that Greed vowed.

Manipulating a person's mind was tricky. If Greed were too gentle and tentative, Roy would simply remain defiant, looking for opportunities to exploit. Greed would never be able to let him out of his fetters. If on the other hand Greed took too rough an approach he might actually break his possession, and instead of getting an intelligent and loyal minion, he would get a cringing zombie, with all traces of his former personality erased.

That had, unfortunately happened in the past. On more than one occasion.

The worst had been Alice. The thirty-something Alchemist had the face of a horse, and a sarcastic sense of humor that grated on Greed's nerves. Worse than either of those was her rather overblown opinion of her importance. She was certain she was god's gift to the world.

Greed hadn't even been remotely attracted to her, but then he wasn't the one deciding who he tamed in those days. Alice was one of the most powerful alchemists of her era, and Dante needed her skill and expertise for some project—no one else would do.

Unfortunately for Alice, she and the Bitch took an instant disliking to each other, and she absolutely refused to have anything to do with Dante's projects. Dante, who counted herself as being extremely patient, ordered Alice's "reshaping."

"A little brainwashing will do the cunt some good," said Dante, utterly scandalizing the servant pouring her tea. Dante had merely flicked her eyes at the girl, who wisely hushed and stayed inconspicuous for the rest of the meal.

Greed had snorted. He'd heard much fouler language coming from that pretty mouth.

"I'll leave the methods up to you," Dante had continued. "But I want a lot less attitude and a lot more cooperation from that woman by the end of the month." Dante had then leaned over and ran her soft, deceptively delicate hand over Greed's ouraborus. "I have every faith in you, my love."

"I won't let you down."

Capturing Alice wasn't difficult. Surprise had done most of the work. Greed had felt a surge of pleasure when the eternal smug expression fell off her face and she realized that her alchemy was useless against him. She was in over her head. Yet somehow she refused to accept her position, and she fought long after a sane person would have given up.

"Really," he'd said, dragging her by her frizzy brown hair down the steps of Dante's mansion. "I'm no more thrilled about this than you are. Be a good girl and behave."

"I'd rather die than submit to you," Alice had announced, haughtily, when he dropped her on the basement floor.

"That," said Greed. "Is not going to be an option."

And true to his word, it wasn't. When he didn't have an eye on her, he bound her so securely she couldn't move a finger much less attempt to end her life. Greed had worked on her for a week, gleefully subjecting the alchemist to every form of torture he knew and a few he'd made up on the spot. It had felt good—really good—watching her expression shift from defiance, to fear, to eventual vapid awe. At the end of her training, she'd performed every task he'd asked her to, without hesitation, no matter how debasing. She went down on him for hours without complaint, and he'd wallowed as much in the pleasure of controlling her as in the sensual feeling of her pathetically eager mouth around his cock. Yes, she made a very good whore.

But she wasn't an alchemist anymore. That skill was gone forever. Whatever it was in a human that allowed them to draw power and reshape things to their will, Alice no longer possessed it. No matter how she was encouraged or tortured, the circles remained lifeless under her hands. Eventually, he couldn't put off telling Dante of this development.

Dante caressed Alice's cheek with a deceptively gentle touch as the woman cowered on the floor. "Her soul is completely shattered," Dante said, standing straight and wiping her fingers on a lace handkerchief. "She doesn't have enough left to summon the gate within." Dante tutted. "Did I not tell you that she was needed?"

"I'm sorry," said Greed torn between shame and anger. "If I hadn't been rushed—"

Dante had turned the coldest eyes on him then and Greed had stepped back defensively. "Don't you pin your failure on me, Greed." She then looked at the former Alchemist. "She is worthless to me now. Dispose of her. I trust you can do that right, at least."

Greed's stomach dropped. He looked at Alice's empty eyes and felt a horrible anger brew up in him. Fury at her for defying him even in her surrender, fury at himself for letting it happen. When the anger let up and at last he could see straight, he found himself covered in blood and bits of flesh and hair. The thing left scattered across the basement floor was not recognizable as human.

But even then Alice was not forgotten, and for years her name came up every time Dante gave him a new assignment, like his own personal vengeful ghost.

Ah but this was an old failure, centuries past and not worth dwelling on. Though he'd failed a few times since, they had never been so spectacular, nor were they with anyone so crucial to Dante.

When given the option, Greed liked to take things slowly, the way he'd done with the boys. He sometimes viewed his family as a garden, whose proper behavior was tenderly encouraged, and inappropriate desires just as carefully pruned away.

But he didn't have that luxury here. Once he reached Dante's house, his ability to control the environment depended a lot on her whim. Greed rather doubted that she'd give him as much the time to devote to the project as he'd like. Dante made it pretty clear over the phone that she had no particular interest in Roy, whatever state he might be left in. She'd be just fine if Roy became another Alice.

Dante's appreciation of need began and ended with her own.

"Law," said Greed almost casually, "Pull over down that lane up ahead."

Law didn't ask why, he just smoothly pulled the car out of the paved two-lane highway, and into a cartwheel rutted dirt lane. The new road ran straight for almost a quarter of a mile but then turned sharply and passed between a grove of alder trees. "Stop here," said Greed.

The car shuddered to a stop. Looking over his shoulder he said to the boys. "Time to stretch. You have fifteen minutes. Keep close." He lowered his voice on the last command and looked directly at Ed.

He needn't have bothered; the teen was still thoroughly chastened. Greed wondered idly which had the greatest impact on him, the beating which surely must still make sitting uncomfortable, or was it fear for his brother's well being, or could he even feel some guilt over Roy's treatment. Not that it really mattered, so long as the kid didn't decide to do something stupid. Greed was not in the mood to hold his temper back.

Greed watched the boys scramble quickly out of the car and pick a tree, not to far from the road to do their business. Greed followed, taking a moment to stretch his long limbs as far as they would go. Cars were simply not designed for men of his height. Then he walked casually to the rear of the car and knocked once. Law popped the latch and Greed opened it up.

Inside Roy lay curled in a tight ball. Sweat had drenched his hair. He blinked up at Greed, with an expression that moved swiftly from surprise, to hate, to carefully controlled blankness. That was to be expected. It would be a while before Roy would be grateful to see him.

"Ready to stand up and walk around a bit?" asked Greed, reaching down and unlatching the fetters around Roy's ankles. He leaned in and easily lifted the man out and onto his feet, then held him there, while the prisoner tried to remember how to uncurl.

Roy was very hard, Greed observed. If he dared, he'd stroke that erection, and feel it's heat and smoothness, but he had no way to gauge how close Roy was to coming, and allowing that to happen would defeat the entire exercise. Greed settled for reaching a hand out and gently tugging the string that dangled between Roy's legs. The toy let out its musical chime and Roy groaned.

"Ed, Al, take our guest somewhere where he can relieve himself, it's going to be about three hours before our next break." Greed leaned back against a tree and watched as Roy minced down the lane, treading carefully to keep his bare feet off the stones.

It turned out to take most of the rest break before Roy was able to do that simple but necessary task. Eventually, after staying very still, he was able to soften enough to do the deed, but his face had turned an extreme shade of red with shame, frustration and discomfort. He groused loudly about needing privacy. Not a chance, thought Greed.

"Time," said Greed as soon as Roy finished. Even this far from the main road, there was a chance they might get caught. He had enough messes to deal with without having to chase down a witness. And the sight of Roy, bruised, naked, his wrists strapped behind his back and his hands balled into sacks—while it was quite an appealing sight, it was not one that could easily be passed off as normal consensual behavior.

Roy, not too surprisingly didn't just walk back to the trunk. Greed considered making an example of his reluctance, but then just sighed. It seemed like too much effort to coach the man into moving when it was a lot less time consuming to pull Roy over his shoulder and simply carry him back. Greed refettered Roy's legs, then drew his fingers up the length of his slim hairless thigh and over the angle his hip.

So damn tempting, but now wasn't the time or place. He could only hope that Dante's mansion would be.

Greed slammed the trunk shut with a lot more force than he meant to. He turned to see Law and the boys avert their eyes. "In the car, we haven't got all day."

Why had the Bitch waited? She'd imprisoned him for over a hundred years in that shitty cell, and not once in the last seventy years or so had she deigned to visit him, sending Envy in her stead—or once or twice Pride. When the earthquake broke the alchemy circle and released him, he'd fully expected her to confront him within hours, especially with the way he'd robbed the building blind before he left.

But she hadn't. She and her military had left him to his booty and devices for a full decade without so much as a courtesy acknowledgement.

Marcoh had been his biggest catch from the Lab. The fifty year old alchemist had been thinking of running away from the military anyway. With him came literally gallons of redstone precursor and the expertise to distill it into the rocks that Greed needed to survive. Then there were the chimera's
—four of them at first, the last remnants of a elite military squad who apparently knew too much to be safe, but weren't quite useful enough to be preserved.

The six of them had commandeered a military truck and had driven around until Greed had found an empty enough looking building in the warehouse district to hole up in.

By all rights, he should NOT have gotten away with it, but he had. Either Dante had, in her backwards way, admitted that she'd been wrong imprisoning him in the first place, and allowed him his freedom as a form of apology, or she was simply too busy at the time to want to deal with him. As much as Greed hoped that it was the former, he rather suspected it was the latter.

Taming the chimeras had been remarkably easy. The four were so desperate that they'd latched onto his leadership from moment he first asked them to come with him. From then on it was simply a matter of careful wording and persuasion to get them to agree to help him grow his criminal enterprise.

The chimeras had no trouble stomaching unethical behavior
—they'd committed it in the past, and they'd had it committed upon them as well. Morality was relative as far as they were concerned and all Greed had to say to get their complete enthusiastic involvement was that their efforts would hurt the military in some way.

Marcoh had been tougher. He had no love of the military because they hurt his sense of morals. Convincing him that Greed's way, while outwardly criminal, was in a higher sense "Good," took quite a bit of verbal skill. The alchemist wasn't easily fooled by rhetoric, nor did he buy into the "enemy of my enemy" argument. For him there was no choice but to offer the stick as well as the carrot.

In the end, it had been a combination of playing up Marcoh's fear of the military and sheer physical intimidation that had eventually cowed Marcoh into staying. Once the older alchemist accepted in his heart that there was nowhere he could go, he'd become quite complacent.

Greed had gotten complacent, too, and that complacency cost Bido, his lizard chimera, his life. He'd been lazy dealing with a rival gang, too distracted by his new young alchemists to pay attention when to the unfortunate chimera's warnings. Up to that point he hadn't realized the chimeras could be killed, their toughness was so remarkable. That failure hurt just as much as Alice's had centuries before.

Then only a few months later Marcoh had died within Greed's own walls, proving that his grip wasn't nearly as secure as he thought it, even in the very heart of his empire. Again it was complacency that had almost caused him to lose his most valuable possessions. His wards had, in retrospect, given him plenty of warning.

And now, after 10 years, Dante had come back into his life. One day he'd had everything, money, power, independence, and the next, all that was left was shit. Maybe that was the reason she'd let him go so long. Maybe it was to prove that she could reel him in any time she wished, and that all his outside efforts were in vain.

That bitch, thought Greed bitterly. It always comes back to you, doesn't it.

They avoided the larger towns as much as possible, even though Dante had assured him that he would not be stopped or questioned by any military check points. They passed through the smaller towns as quickly, pausing only for gas and such food as could be easily and cleanly eaten in a car. Greed worried that Roy might make a nuisance of himself, shouting and banging about in the trunk when other passers by were about, but he didn't.

Part of him was pleased that the project was being so good, but part of him worried as well, and so, shy of the three hour mark he'd decreed, he ordered Law to pull off a into a country driveway, and brought the car to a halt near an abandoned rotting farmhouse.

Greed signaled with his hands and Law popped the latch once more. Without warning, Greed pulled the hood up and looked at the Alchemist.

Roy was asleep, curled loosely in the back. To Greed's disappointment he was completely soft. Had he come at some point? There was no sign of semen on his thighs or belly. Perhaps he'd simply learned to tune out the toy after all—

Then Greed's eye caught a flash of something in the corner. Anger hit him like a punch. Good? No, Roy had been very, very bad.

He grabbed the alchemist's shoulder and shook hard. His hand went dark without him even noticing, and it wasn't until Roy cried out in pain that he realized he'd drawn blood. Roy looked confused for a second, but then his eyes focused on Greed and he sucked a deep breath in.

"I didn't say you could push that toy out," said Greed, controlling his voice.

"I couldn't help it—" Roy said before Greed slapped him silent with the back of his darkened hand.

"I put that there for a purpose," continued Greed. "And you just fucked up that purpose." Greed exaggerated a sigh. "Roy, Roy, Roy." He caressed the blood away from the corner of Roy's mouth. "You were so good this morning. I thought we were making some progress. Now we are back at fucking square one. You have no idea how disappointing this is for me."

Roy, wisely, didn't say anything.

"Boys," said Greed sharply. "Get over here." He reached into the car and picked up the toy. It was cold. Roy had probably expelled it within minutes of the last break. No wonder he had been so quiet at their forced pit stops.

Al and Ed scrambled out of the car and stood on the gravel driveway next to the open trunk. Their eyes were huge. For a second it looked like Ed might say something but instead he just frowned. Al took one look at the toy in Greed's hands and suddenly buried his face in Ed's shoulder.

"It seems Roy needs to have a lesson in what happens when someone fucks with my carefully considered discipline." Greed dropped the toy back into the trunk and then concentrated a moment. He felt a deep ache with himself and concentrated on it forcing that feeling to rise up through his throat and into his mouth. He leaned forward a little and spat, his tongue sliding over the irregularly faceted stone, before it fell out into his hand.

"Please," said Al under his breath.

Ed put a quick hand over his brother's mouth and held him tighter. The older boy looked grim and angry, but also resigned. As he should be, thought Greed. Ed had felt this lesson before.

Roy was frowning. There was no reason to think he would have any idea what the significance of that red gem was. He'd have no idea the sacrifice that went into making it, or how rare and valuable to Greed it was.

"Ordinarily," said Greed, "I believe in natural consequences." He unbuckled the fetters on Roy's legs, carefully because right now his rage was so close to the surface he could tear them apart by accident if he didn't rein himself in. "When I punish someone, they can be in pain for days, or even weeks. Months on an occasion," he looked over at Ed again.

"When Ed lost his arm and leg, stupidly engaging in unauthorized alchemy, I could have made things easier on him. I could have used one of these little things to heal him right up, take away his pain, maybe even grow him his limbs back again. But I didn't. I felt he wouldn't get the message if I took away the consequences. So I made him suffer through automail surgery and the rehab afterwards, even though it threw a lot of my carefully constructed plans out the window."

Ed swallowed.

Greed held the gem out to him. "Hold onto this." Ed took the stone gingerly in his hand. "I'll let you know when you can use it."

He turned back to Roy, who still didn't seem to understand. With a quick movement he caught the older alchemist under his armpits, lifted him up out of the trunk, and deposited him on the ground. "Get up, Roy," said Greed, tapping him in the thigh with his boot. Greed looked around and spotted a wall of greenery on the other side of an overgrown field. "See that line of trees, Roy?"

Roy struggled to stand, then turned and looked where Greed was pointing.

"If you can make it to those trees before I catch you, then I'll let you go free." Greed felt a predatory lust rising up in him. "I'll give you thirty seconds head start. Starting now—RUN!"

Roy did, running surprisingly nimbly despite the lack of shoes to cushion his feet or arms to keep himself balanced. He jumped over a small ditch and avoided a rusty wheelbarrow. Greed counted off the seconds watching his prey's determination. Roy almost stumbled twice, but through sheer grace managed to avoid tumbling down and losing the weak chance he had to escape.

This is just what Dante did to me, Greed thought. A taste of freedom before trouncing it out. Let's hope that what I face when I get to her place isn't what Roy is going to face when I catch up to him.

"Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty." Greed took off, using all his strength and speed. Roy wasn't even half way across the field; it took only ten seconds to catch up with him.

Roy looked over his shoulder with wide-eyed fear just a second before Greed threw out his leg and tripped the man. Roy fell, tucking his head in and rolling. He almost managed to make it to his feet again, but Greed stopped him with a swift kick to the abdomen, knocking him onto his back.

Greed didn't hold back this time. He knew his kicks were doing more than cosmetic damage. Roy curled to protect his belly, so Greed went for his kidneys instead. He avoided Roy's head deliberately—he didn't want there to be any chance that Roy would pass out before he'd finished his destructive rampage. By the time the boys had crossed the field with the stone, Roy was in sorry shape indeed. Both legs broken and coughing up blood. Skin mottled with huge plum colored bruises.

"It would have been much better to just hold that toy in, don't you think?" said Greed. "A little stimulation, not even painful stimulation, you could handle that. It wasn't that bad in retrospect, now was it?"

Roy groaned. His eyes began to close, and his breath hitched in, shallow and irregular around his broken ribs.

Greed turned to Ed. "Do it."

Ed seemed to debate just a second before he knelt and pressed the stone against Roy's shoulder. Greed saw the red glow between the boy's fingers.

"I'm sorry," whispered Ed. "Forgive me."

Roy's eyes flew open. He stared up at Ed in amazement. His chest heaved in a full breath.

"You think this is over?" Greed asked amused by Roy's reaction. "Think that you get to die? Think again."

Roy's legs twitched and straightened out, healed.

"I own you, Roy," said Greed. "You belong to me. If I wanted to, I could break every bone in your body and then bring you back. I could do it again and again. All it costs is someone's soul." He grinned as Roy's horror deepened. "Yeah, that's what my ward is pouring into you right now. Someone died so that I could drive a point through your stubborn head. Don't think I don't appreciate the sacrifice someone made for this. Red stones are damn precious and have many uses. That I should offer up some of its power disciplining you just shows the extent to which I care about you."

Greed reached out and fingered Roy's hair. His. His hair, his body— His. That bitch could not take this from him. At best she could borrow his people, but he would kill them himself before he gave them up to her.

Roy's color had improved greatly, the bruises, scratches, burns and welts all faded. He lay pristine, pale, beautiful on the stiff yellow grass. Ed lifted the stone away and gave it back to Greed. Although it outwardly looked the same, it was weakened.

Greed quickly put it in his mouth again and swallowed, feeling it slide sensuously back into his center. He took a deep breath and stretched. "Stand up, Roy. We are going back to the car."

He kept Roy in front of him, one hand on his shoulder, just in case the lesson hadn't had enough time to work it's way through his stubborn brain. But Roy wasn't Alice, he seemed to know when a situation was hopeless. Greed noted that the muscles in Roy's arms were tense and that he didn't droop forward the way one might when defeated. He was biding his time. Thinking. Looking for an opportunity to exploit.

Well, he wouldn't be worthy of keeping if he fell apart easily. The man did not get to be a veteran, much less a high ranking military official without being able to bounce back from a bit of pain and adversity. And that was fully half his fascination. Over the years Roy's looks would eventually fade, but that inner spark, that intelligence and drive, that soul would remain. Greed did not make short term investments.

When they reached the vehicle, Roy automatically turned towards the trunk, but Greed steadied him and pushed him towards the front of the car instead. He put a quick hand to test the warmth of the metal, then determining it cool enough not to burn, he forced the alchemist to bend over until his head rested against it.

Law, anticipating him, had the toy and a bottle of lube ready.

"One of the first things you'll learn in my house," said Greed preparing the balls again, "Is that avoiding punishment never gets you out of it. I chose this toy for a reason. Now it's important that you hold it in, until I remove it. No excuses." And with that he pushed it back in, meeting considerably more resistance than he had this morning. "You've tightened up again. Perhaps that will help you hold it."

Roy's only response was a suppressed grunt.

He was going to be quiet about the whole thing. That was fine with Greed. Probably smart on Roy's part, too. There really wasn't a whole lot Roy could say at this point that would make Greed feel more charitable towards him.

The boys had already taken their seats in the back, but Greed gestured they get out. There was enough room in the front for the two of them next to Law. Roy was spending the rest of the trip in the backseat where Greed could keep a keen eye on him. Allowing Roy to fail was partially Greed's responsibility. He wouldn't let it happen again.

As soon as the engine turned and they began down the gravel drive, the toy came to life. Greed watched raptly as Roy's eyes suddenly took a far off focus and his stomach tensed. Almost immediately afterwards he began squirming in his seat, as though that would provide any relief whatsoever. Then Roy blushed and leaned forward as if to hide the inevitable erection.

That soon proved just as unsatisfactory. No matter what position Roy took it was not what he needed. Greed put an end to the squirming when he started to slide off the seat altogether.

"Be still," he said gently, with firm hand on his shoulder.

To think, thought Greed, feeling a comfortable glow set in, I almost missed seeing this. "Avoid all towns," said Greed. "Use rough roads if you have to."

Roy silently mouthed out a "no."

"Yes, sir," said Law. Greed noted with approval that the boys found the map and had taken over the job of navigation without being specifically told.

As soon as the returned to the paved highway Roy relaxed somewhat, he still remained hard, but the both the loudness of the chime and it's frequency seemed to die down somewhat. For a while it seemed the show was over. Except for an occasional squirm Roy seemed to have become used to his condition.

But even the persistent gentle rocking inside grew too much after a while.

"Enough," said Roy, after they'd gone half an hour. "Please, Sir. Take it out."

"Don't bother to ask," warned Greed. "It will be over when I say it is and not a moment sooner."

Law took a curve, and though Roy anticipated it, he still winced and twisted when it happened. The expressions on his face were fantastic. Almost to Greed's disappointment the boys were able to pick largely paved routes that missed even the small communities. They had reached the countryside south of Central now, miles past the last of the small towns that leeched off the hub. Though Greed hadn't ventured this direction that often since his escape, he knew that there wouldn't be much between here and Dublith, and from there it was a short trip through Dante's private forest to reach her summer retreat.

Greed vaguely wondered if the place had changed much in the century he'd been gone. Styles changed, and Dante was nothing if not fashionable. And Dante herself probably looked nothing like the blonde beauty she'd been 90 years ago when he'd last seen her. She rarely wore a body longer than half a century, before deciding her face was simply too well known in too many corners.

Roy's faint gasp brought him back to the present again. For a moment he thought it was just the toy doing it's job again, but then he realized Roy's eyes were fixed on his hand. Greed looked down and saw it had darkened into a claw again. He chuckled a bit and shook his arm, waving his growing shield back into non-existence.

"Why don't you give into the feeling, Roy," said Greed softly. "There is no shame in pleasure. Stop fighting it."

Roy's response to that was to wiggle more in his seat.

"I can't—" said Roy after a long pause.

"You can't what."

"Come," said Roy. It was as much a groan of pain as it was a word.

"Maybe a bit longer then."

Roy bit his lip and turned his head away. He tried to use his thighs to clumsily stroke his erection, but it clearly wasn't enough.

Greed was hard as a rock as well, but being a homunculus, he had more control over such reactions. He could come and recharge quickly, or he could maintain a state of heady arousal long past when most men reached their limits. Watching Roy's constantly shifting expression was simply too much of a treat to want to end quickly.

Inevitably Law took them down an unpaved road. Roy's expressions grew more intense and he started to make soft hissing and moaning sounds that Greed barely hard over the crunch of gravel under the tires.

"Please, sir," he said after a few minutes of potholed hell. "Please, let me come."

Greed smiled. "You want me to touch you, Roy?" asked Greed.

"Yes," he said, his throat so tense the word came out a croak. "Yes, please." Just then the sun broke free of the cloudcover and lit Roy's face in an amber light.

It was getting late, Greed realized. There wouldn't be much sunlight left. Even though he'd like to watch Roy suffer a lot longer, he'd be disappointed if it grew too dark to see Roy's eventual release. Roy was almost there anyway.

"Beg me to touch you, Roy."

"Please, sir, I beg you." There was an eager tone to his begging that pleased Greed immensely. Greed gazed at Roy's screwed up face.

"Law stop the car."

Law pulled to the side of the road.

"Roy," said Greed softly. "I do this to you because I love you. Do you believe me?"

Roy was not in a state to say no to anything, so predictably, he nodded.

"I can give you pleasure as well as pain. Release, comfort, companionship, all I ask is loyalty and obedience."

Roy nodded again.

"I'm not going to ask you to promise me anything right now. But one day, I will. And when I do, I will hold you to that promise."

"Anything, sir," said Roy. "Please."

Greed considered the situation. He was simply too tall to comfortably engage in car sex. In addition there was a part of him that wished for privacy, for this moment of epiphany to be shared with no one but himself. He could just tell Law and the boys to look the other way, but that felt wrong as well. Instead, Greed opened the door and pulled Roy out. He pushed his captive around a small hedge and down to the grass not far from the roat. The gentle rise of the hill shielded them from the eyes of those in the car.

Roy was oblivious, letting himself be led, then pushed down onto the soft moist ground. He rolled slightly to the side to keep his hands from digging into his back. Greed allowed that. He easily pulled Roy's knees up and apart, and then Greed leaned down and took his cock in his mouth.

It was feverishly hot, and firm and smooth against his tongue. The smell was musky and intoxicating. Greed fought the urge to wallow in the sensation, but Roy was too close to the edge and he didn't want to miss the best part. He kept his eyes on Roy's face even as he slid the cock deeper into his mouth.

Sure enough, he'd hardly begun to suck and pull before Roy let out a little relieved cry, and Greed's mouth was flooded. Greed continued to suck until the last wave was over. From the sheer amount of time it took Roy to reach the end of his orgasm, Greed knew it had been quite intense and powerful.

Roy's eyes opened, black and dull. His body relaxed in both afterglow and defeat. With a quick tug Greed pulled the toy out. Roy barely winced at its passing.

Greed reached into his pocket and pulled the vial of lube Law had given him earlier. Roy didn't fight as he pushed his way in. "Don't go to sleep," Greed cautioned.

Roy shook his head. Greed lifted up the man's buttocks, sliding his thighs under them, then he began thrusting. Roy was soft and moist and hot. His body was either too tired to fight him off or too used to the assault, because it relaxed pleasantly. Still Greed didn't push it. He used slow gentle strokes. Maybe Roy enjoyed it, it was hard to tell, he was too soon past orgasm to become hard again, and far too prideful to admit to it verbally.

This might be the last free fuck Greed got in a while. Who knew what restrictions Dante would put on him. Perhaps the Bitch would prefer he be faithful to her, a mockery of their one time marriage vows.

Ah but that marriage had ended in his death, and Dante wasn't one to hold with fidelity, even within marriage. She'd certainly cheated often enough on her subsequent marriages. It was more a financial institution for her anyway. A way to leapfrog a new body into power and wealth and society.

Dante was unimportant. Right now he had his cock sheathed in a beautiful charming man, on a pleasant summer afternoon. For this moment at least, he was in bliss. He was going to savor every moment of it. Greed rocked his way slowly to a comfortable completion.

Greed put Roy back in the trunk for the final leg of the trip. He had the boys clean the balls alchemically before he tucked them away in a bag. Roy had put him in a good mood once more. He was actually eager to meet the Bitch again and see if her real wants were anything as terrible as he'd been dreading.

He was somewhat surprised to see the road to the house in a state of disrepair. Law had to drive slowly to keep from scraping the undercarriage as the wheels fell into deep potholes. When they reached the massive iron gates and drove past onto the pavers, the place took on a more familiar tended look.

They stopped on the pavers in front of the long steps to the covered front enterance. The house looked exactly as it had when he'd last seen it. Even the hedges were tended the same way.

No sooner had Law shut off the engine than Greed saw a woman walk out of the house. She was quite attractive, with a small waist and large bosom, and long black hair falling over her shoulder in large curls. For the briefest moment he thought she might be Dante, but then his eyes stopped on the ouraborus on her chest. It was the same spot that Lust used to have his.

A new Lust. Whatever happened to the old one? He looked up and met her eyes. They were purple and slit pupiled the way the sin's tended to be. Greed had wondered at times how Pride avoided that fate. Envy, of course was always in control of his appearance and could make his eyes look any way he wished. The only other who avoided the slit eyed effect was Gluttony, but that, Greed had been told, was a side effect of his first job, rather than how he looked when he was first created.

And as if on cue for that thought, Gluttony walked out onto the porch as well, looking exactly as he had the last time Greed had seen him. Gluttony was the second oldest of the lot of them, older than Greed by some thirty years. As such Greed had never seen what the homunculus looked like as a human, but it certainly was nothing like how he looked now.

That was the effect of the philosopher's stone. Gluttony had been created to hold the stone within him, disgorging it whenever Hohenhiem or Dante needed the object, but otherwise swallowing it like a red stone to safe from poachers. But unlike its weaker precursor, the philosopher's stone had a way of twisting those who stayed too close to it for too long. In the first decades of Greed's existence, he'd seen Gluttony go from being a slightly portly balding man, to something that could not walk the streets without incurring gasps of surprise. By the time of Greed's rebirth Gluttony's eyes had become fixed—dialeted to their widest extent. By the time Gluttony was releaved of his duty, those dark pupils had taken on an unearthly inner glow. Gluttony's intelligence had disintegrated by degrees.

Eventually Hohenheim and Dante became afraid that should Gluttony die, the pocket demension within his belly would be lost, and with it the gem. Hohenheim's solution to was to create Sloth and simply have her guard the stone when it wasn't in use. The stone effected her as well, over time, but since it was not actually lodged in her body, she seemed to retain her intelligence, if not much other autonomy.

Meanwhile, without the stone corrupting him, Gluttony had recovered somewhat. He'd never be sharp, or handsome, or even particularly street passable, but he could function. The loss of the philosopher's stone left him with an appetite worthy of his name, and a childish innocence that was almost endearing.

Greed watched him cling to the new Lust, sucking on a finger like a toddler. He turned to see his ward's reactions. The smiles and chatter from the drive was gone and the two were silent and watchful.

"Ah, Greed. Come on in," said Lust, "You're companions arrived a bit ago." She looked him over in an assessing way, then smiling with approval. "There is dinner if you are interested."

At that Ed and Al perked up. "Yes, ma'am, please," they chorused.

"Are these Hohenheim's children?" Lust asked. "Why, they are adoreable." She put a gloved hand on each of their heads.

"Where is Dante," Greed asked, a bit abruptly.

"She's inside," said Lust with only a bit of hesitation.

Gluttony looked more sheepish than usual, hiding behind Lust's skirt. Greed wondered what was up.

"There is one more of my party," said Greed after a moment of awkward silence. "Do you have a place where I can secure him?"

"Ah yes, your guest. Gluttony will show your man the room Dante designed for him and your wards."

Greed raised an eyebrow. "She designed a place just for them."

Lust lowered her eyes. "Dante expects you will be grateful for how accommodating she is." She turned and entered the house with a gentle sway of her hips. "Come with me, she is waiting."

"Dante," said Greed slowly, controlling his reaction as much as possible. It was hard to keep from gaping and gasping.

"Not what you expected, am I?" said the old woman in a sky blue cotton and lace frock, her hair neatly tied in a bun. She looked the epitome of a grandmother. Only the hardness in her dark eyes suggested she was anything else.

"It's a—"Greed searched for words. "New look for you," he said after a long very awkward moment of fishing.

Dante, to his relief chuckled. "It's one I've had a lot of time to get used to." She turned her head and looked at the kitchen door. "Lyra, dear, more tea please."

A maid walked out and filled their cups. All of Greed's family were assembled around the long gleaming table, except for Sloth, who was still traveling from the northern wilderness he'd sent her, and Roy, who had been neatly chained and secured in a second story bedroom. Dante had no companions with her, not even Lust or Gluttony. She seemed comfortable in her loneliness.

For Greed, this was disconcerting in the extreme. Dante had always played hostess to a few suitors and friends, and invariably had a variety sycophants, suck-ups, and servants clustered around her. Now it appeared the only the servants remained, and even they were rather sparse. Other than Lyra and the humunculi, he saw one other man, who was rather old and stooped and not Dante's type at all.

"It's rather quiet here," Greed commented cautiously.

"I'm afraid I'm not as social as I used to be," said Dante, sipping her tea. "I've taken an extended vacation from Society, at least until the new stone is made. The homunculi do most of my work. Pride controls the military and government in my name. Envy is my right hand. Even Gluttony and Lust have become most useful agents and rarely have the time to keep me company anymore.

"But now you and your family are here," she said smiling. "And I hear there is a new Sloth."

"Yes," said Greed sipping his tea.

"Excellent, I have uses for her already." Dante smiled. "It takes a lot of effort to start a war, don't you know, Greed."

"And what will you be wanting of me?" Greed almost didn't want to ask. "Am I to help you start this war as well?" If that were the case, all was lost. There was no way he could continue training Roy under such conditions, Ed would probably get his much longed for chance to run away, and even the chimeras would be difficult to manage if Greed were forced to go under cover.

Dante shook her head. "I need you here with me, Greed. Managing my assets. Its what you've always been best at." Her smile was motherly and almost entirely un-Dante-like. In fact everything about her, from the dowdy old fashioned clothes, to the fact that she looked old was utterly unlike the Dante he knew.

Why hadn't she used the philosopher's stone to make herself young? Why was she so weak, so cut off, so apart from all she cared about? Had she had some fight with Hohenheim? Could that be why neither of them had noticed Greed's adoption of the Elric boys?

"I will show you my biggest asset tomorrow," Dante continued. "I'm afraid he's not feeling very well today and he retired early. I was hoping I could use your touch to make him more amenable to cooperating. That is your biggest talent."

Greed could bear it no more. "The philosopher's stone—?"

"Is destroyed," said Dante. There was a familiar sharp edge to her voice that suggested he not pry too much about it. "But not for long. I'm more than half way to a new one."

"Philosopher's stone?"

Both Dante and Greed looked over at Ed. The small boy had paused in his consuming to pay attention to the dinner conversation.

"You know of it?" asked Dante.

"I—read about it, in my father's notes. It's a myth. There is no such thing." Ed seemed to lose his nerve under the withering glance she gave him.

"Have you never seen red stones?" asked Dante.

Ed looked at his hand. Of course he had, he'd just used one hours before.

"The Philosopher's stone is similar to a Redstone— in the way the Sun is similar to the moon." She leaned back and smiled lacing her wrinkled fingers together. "Do you want to know what the difference is, dear child?"

Ed nodded.

"You see with red stone, every time you use it, it gets weaker. It's like a battery. It has only as much alchemical power as one puts into it. But the philosopher's stone is self-sustaining. Once it's made you can draw power from it indefinitely. It channels power just like a living being, like the most powerful alchemist in existence. Think of it, child, unlimited power, no equivalent trade."

Ed's eyes were huge. He nodded.

"Would you like to see one be made?" Dante's eyes glittered.

"Yes, ma'am," said Ed eagerly.

She laughed. "I'll make sure you have a good view when the time comes."

A very good view, thought Greed with a sinking feeling in his chest. From a kneeling position with Ed's hands in the array. He narrowed his eyes at her but she only winked.

It seemed that Dante was trying hard to keep Greed placated. She put the boys in the same room as Roy, continuing their discipline routine, as if it were one she'd devised herself. The three chimeras were given the room across the hall. Greed approved of that as well. Although there was only a single large bed, the chimeras wouldn't mind. They were a team, and they'd find comfort in each other's company. Greed was given the largest guest bedroom, right across the hall from Dante herself.

His unspoken question had been put to rest as she showed him around his room. "I'm not interested in sleeping with you," she said. "Not in this body at least. It has far too many aches, and," she smiled weakly, "I must admit, I'm a bit too vain to show myself to you like this. As soon as the philosopher's stone is created, I will find a body worthy of your lust, and then you and I can make up for lost time."

"Dante—" said Greed.

She stopped and scowled. "I'm not going to apologize for imprisoning you. You deserved every second of it. What you did to me was almost past forgiving."

Greed lowered his eyes.

"Almost past forgiving," repeated Dante. "I find these days I'm much more generous than in the past. Perhaps a kind heart is what I get for the wrinkles. My first and only priority now is the creation of the new stone. Everything else—even past grudges, are secondary."

"I understand," said Greed.

Dante shook her head. "I don't think you do. Those boys will serve me, with or without you. But I'd rather it be with you." She reached up and touched his cheek. "Oh my, it's late now isn't it, and I imagine you are tired from the road. I will visit with you more tomorrow."

Greed watched as she turned and entered her own room. The door shut with a definite sense of finality.

No, this was definitely not what he was expecting. In a way, it upset his sense of order. He knew how the Bitch would react to his looks and words, how Grandma Dante would behave was uncharted territory. Troubling indeed.

"Boss?" said a soft voice a moment later. He turned and saw Dorchet. The chimera looked pensive and unsure. He was hunched forward, tugging gently at his bristly short hair.

Greed gave him a big grin and put a companionable arm around his shoulder. "Dante is putting us up in style it seems. Nothing but the best sheets for us, eh?" He hugged the smaller man close and nuzzled his ear. "I'm still top dog around here, no matter whose house we are in."

Dorchet relaxed. "I know that, sir."

"We'll indulge her for now, at least until we find our feet again. Then, we'll see."

Although the room Dante had given him was posh and comfortable, Greed chose to follow Dorchet back to the smaller guest room. That tonight he'd sleep in a crowded bed, with the safe arms and warm breath of his chimeras around him.