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ambre

Wasteland

chapter 13.

He didn't want to turn around. He didn't want to confirm his suspicion. He could already feel hatred dipping its foot into his nerves, preparing to take a dive and plunge straight through to his wracked psyche. It was as natural a defense for him as a scab over a sore, but fuck, sometimes it was so tiring, and he was in no state of mind for a confrontation at present. The damned dream and the memories it had conjured had effectively cut Envy's already meager self-control to the bone. There was nothing left but the hatred, the never-satisfied desire to bring pain and death to the hideous plague known as humanity.

For several more seconds, he didn't stir.

Then, still hesitant, he turned.

Envy's eyes had fully adjusted, but only a patch of light dusted illumination over the train car's centre. Even so...there was no mistaking that cough, that shuffling movement, that goddamned blond hair...and that ridiculously identifying scritch of metal—that tiny automail pulse, that fingerprint of being that tainted one person and only one person in this whole fucking world.

Muscles shortened. Envy bristled like a cat confronted by a large, nosy canine; well, he was, wasn't he? One feline, vulpine homunculus, and one military dog.

"Edward..." he breathed, voice low and frothy.

Edward. Cry and curse and anathema; the two of them were never meant to get along. There was no rapport, merely the longstanding grudge betwixt man and the serpent who sank fangs into his heels. Eden was lost to legend and long ago, but the age old enmity between those things whose blood was warm and those things whose blood was cold continued to fester like the primordial soup of monstrosities within the Gate itself. Gilded and tawny and born to the sunlight, there was no one so warm as Edward, and irrespective of his temperature at any given time, there could never be any conceit so cold as Envy, physical embodiment of the Sin of pure petty hatred and scorn, leviathan dressed in human skin.

Now, there was only the issue of awaiting an answer before resuming his attempt to free himself so as to wedge his fingers in the kid's eye sockets.

"ED! EEEEEED-WAAAARD! SHRIMP! SHORT-ASS! MAGGOT FOOD!" Envy growled, huffing with the exertion of his throat and lungs. Fuck. No sense in beating around the damned bush. He wasn't going to let the prick ignore him, not even for a second, and that was final! He was shell-shocked, sleepy, pissy, and sporting for a brawl. One way or another, they were going to fight. Envy figured he might as well instigate something short and hard and fast and get it all the fuck over with. He'd take whatever bruises he had to, and he'd give a few in return.

No reply.

Envy opened his mouth to scream at the asshole, but his violent words had not yet fully formed before a belated response fragmented both his building tirade and whatever remained of the homunculus's tolerance.

"...Yeah?"

One eye twitched. Breath hissed through an abrupt mastication, and a lump plummeted into Envy's stomach. WHAT? It was as though the fucker was trying to one-up the endlessly infuriating "so," and damned if he hadn't just done it! Envy intended to stammer something to the effect of "WHAT-THE-FUCK-IS-IT-WITH-YOU-AND-THE-ANNOYING-ONE-WORD-RESPONSES?" but his anger was too quick and too intense for his mind to organize into any semblance of coherence, so he choked on the phrase and instead only managed a curt, "GET OUT!"

From what Envy could see, Ed raised the underside of his hand to one eye and began rubbing off the residue of sleep. There followed a "mmhmm," or something similarly unintelligible which conveyed that same basic level of heavy slumber-intoxication, and Envy instantly wondered how long he had been there. Night. It was night...so it could have been hours! Hours of Ed invading Envy's personal space, hours of...

"Hey! Did you hear me? Undo this fucking wire and get the hell out!" Envy flailed, slamming his heels into the wall as loudly as possible and tearing fresh pain into his system. This was unacceptable. Ed was going to wake up and wake up quickly, even if it took some yelling and beating things senseless to get his damned attention! "You've got some nerve, Elric! What the fuck do you think you're doing coming into my train car and tying me up like this? GET OUT! Go away! Go find your own goddamned place to sleep!"

At that, Ed didn't hesitate.

"...Yeah. It isn't very nice to wake up and find yourself bound and unable to move, is it?"

...

That...

...those weren't the words Envy had been expecting, not by a long shot, and for a moment, all he could do was go slack and gape mindlessly as a trill of expletives wallowed somewhere between his jaw and the grey matter situated within his wonderfully inhuman skull. He emitted a helpless, startled spurt of "uhhhf" in the stead of what had been shaping up to become a marvelous diatribe. Silence and stillness bricked him upside the head as his rage carbonated, and Ed's words settled in for a round of digestion.

Ed stretched his arm and scratched the side of his head, and Envy watched the darkness undulate over his body. His...naked body, Envy noticed suddenly, and with a measure of shock and indignation. What the...

"Wow, seems that had an impact on you, eh? I'm surprised." A listless laugh, then another yawn. "If you were anyone else, I'd think maybe you were actually having a moment of empathy. Mm...but then you wouldn't be you, of course. So I guess you're just steaming quietly and thinking of new ways to kill me, right?"

Without thinking of anything in particular, Envy let his eyes drift downwards, and he felt his expression turn decisively sour. "Where are your clothes?" he wondered aloud.

"Where are yours?"

"I ASKED YOU FIRST, YOU FUCKING—"

"—what the hell? Are you four centuries going on eight years? Sheesh. Stop that damned yelling. You're giving me a headache." In the dim light, Envy saw those characteristic aurulent eyes roll.

Ed still wasn't deigning to act very visibly or audibly upset, and he certainly didn't appear at all motivated to correct his idiotic oversight of stomping all over Envy's turf and plopping his damned naked body in Envy's sleeping space, and the sheer avoidance he so casually exhibited in response to the Sin's urgent demands made him feel so ignored and condescended to that his blood boiled like the oil from decades upon decades ago, and his toes curled with suppressed tension as he strained, chewing his lips to hold in continual moans of discomfiture. He only succeeded in further hooking his arms into his binds.

Oh, I'd like to give you a real headache, Envy thought, bitterly, and a spasm wrenched his spine. There was a time when I would have made you pay attention to me, runt.

"It's been a long day," Ed said, conveniently overlooking his company's distress. "Not that you'd know...since you've probably been hiding here for hours, but...I've been up one side of this yard and down the other. Running errands. Didn't get any money for my efforts, but I did get food and water, and some kid..."

There, his sentence turned to a grumble. "Some kid was ...the right size to let me borrow his clothes..." He shook his head. "But anyway, long story short, I went and took a shower at the same place you did, and since I planned on napping afterwards, I didn't feel like getting dressed again just yet. I'm still wet. Besides, this place is nice and obscure."

More fumbling, yawning, and scratching. "And I'm tired, damn it. So why don't you just ...well, I don't know how or why you were sleeping, but go back to doing that, all right?"

"No, no, NO! It's not that simple! Wha..." Envy looked up, then back at Ed. "Why did you put this damned wire on me? Take it off! You...you...you have no right!" He sputtered, fuming, consciousness still swarmed by daze and disorientation. "How did you find me? How did you find me? And..."

For the first time, Edward actually looked expectant, as though he had a smidgeon of interest in whatever Envy might be preparing to say, and the change of pace took Envy aback to the point that he had trouble spitting his question out; an absolutely absurd sense of self-consciousness immediately ambushed and flummoxed him, and he actually wondered if his query might make him sound too wounded and clingy...but he tripped his way across it, anyway.

"A-and if your new friends are so fucking charitable, then why didn't you spend the night with them?"

...Shit. That wasn't a good way to ask it, moron! You're supposed to sound threatening, not whiny and pleading! That was horrible!

"I wanted you to spend the night with them!" he made sure to add upon finding that Ed's answer was not instantaneously forthcoming. He jerked a sneer onto his face to accentuate the sentiment. "You've got one use to me, and one use only. You know that. Don't fucking follow me around like we're friends or something. I thought we had an agreement, Elric?"

"And what makes you think this is even about you?" Ed sat up, gently suspending his elbow just above his metal leg; the flesh counterpart rested below it, giving Envy an extremely thorough look at the boy's anatomy. "Of course I wanted to sleep in the station, but no one knows or trusts me well enough. I said I ran errands. I didn't say I got a job, because I haven't...yet."

Envy kept quiet, all the while mentally chewing over everything he heard.

Moonlight glided along Edward's face and chest, purling his flesh and settling on his automail like a descending butterfly with intricate DNA made of white light. His expression was somber, even serene; a chute of loose golden hair embellished everything from his head to his sternum, gracing and framing the sharp clavicle as it roped its course down the boy's torso. Envy could not help but notice the finer details of Edward's musculature, much as he didn't really want to; despite the toll illness had taken on his good form, everything remained as smoothly chiselled as paleolith...even if the sinews had grown noticeably more inclined toward slimness.

Envy hadn't seen him so clean and...dewy-looking in days...no, weeks, even. Edward's revived vigour was as frustrating as it was beautiful...and even more so, it was frustrating because it was beautiful—because Envy hated that disgustingly pretty and familiar face, those disgustingly pretty and familiar eyes, that disgustingly pretty and familiar pyritic colour scheme, and it was wrong. All wrong! How dare that bastard tear into the world, red and squalling, looking like that? How in the hell could the Gate or fate or whatever have been so fucking cruel as to ensure that a baby with such traits had been conceived, carried, and dropped from the hole between that bitch's legs?

You should have been me...or maybe I should've been you, Envy thought, holding in a shrill whine of sudden pain; jealousy so intense it became physical discomfort flitted through his nerves; if he couldn't be Edward, then he could at least have him, right? Own him. Break him. Savour all of those wonderful qualities which were rightly his; oh, fuck did he hate that he wanted it all, but he wanted it all—everything, every trace of beauty within those cheeks!

He wanted that hair to tickle his face, he wanted those eyes on him and nothing else! It didn't matter if they were fiery and passionate or cold and dead! He wanted...he wanted...Edward! The boy was his by rights, since all the lies in the truth of his existence were in fact stolen directly from Envy's own heritage; righteousness dictated that Envy should finally receive a handful of justice in the form of being given what he wanted...all of Edward's life and all of Edward's death—

—and he intended to claim his prize. Tonight. Not one moment later.

"—so, yeah, that was pretty much it. And..." Ed was saying when Envy's attention snapped back to the present. "...I'd say Dolph Ulrich seems like a pretty good man, but naturally he doesn't just accept perfect strangers. Especially when I'm a foreigner, and crippled, and I guess...I don't know, suspicious, right? But hey, Youswell didn't trust me at first, either. In fact, they really didn't like me. I'm not too worried. I'm good with people. I always have been." He nodded briskly, grinning. "I'm sure I'll be fine."

What the fuck is he rambling about? Envy wondered, briefly, having not caught most of the conversation Edward seemed to be having with himself. The homunculus couldn't figure why the kid suddenly seemed to think he had any interest in hearing about his boring day or the boring people he had met during the course of his boring day, but whatever; clearly, something needed to be done to remedy Ed's undeserved good cheer. It was...grating.

"In case you're wondering, I was able to find you because I saw the direction you wandered off in, and because I know you well enough to know you'd head straight for the farthest car in the yard. You're pretty predictable that way. And uh, well, when you're not all shitty...you do kinda smell like alchemy, so that was an indicator, too."

He shifted as though he intended to sprawl out all over the floor. From the looks of what came next, that was exactly what he intended.

"Eh...anyway. I followed you to keep an eye on you, 'cause I'm not going to have you causing any trouble. I'd say I'm sorry about tying you up like that...but, well, I'm not. Just try to get some sleep and I'll let you free tomorrow. We need to talk about what your fake name is gonna be; obviously 'Envy' is a little—"

No sooner had that blond hair touched the floor than Envy pitched his lower body forward with all his strength, wire shredding through a layer of flesh as his long legs catapulted his feet straight into Edward's head, delivering a violent uppercut to one of his temples. The former alchemist didn't even have time to flinch before flesh and bone collided in a dull, flattened crack, and Envy convulsed with throes of manic laughter as Edward crashed like a madly twittering bird shot straight from the air. Despite the difficulty inherent in finding a decent angle, Envy saw that he had managed an impeccable strike, and he could only cry out ecstatically as moonlight launched blanched arrows across that handsome face and the perplexed expression upon it.

He seemed to collapse not all at once, as one would imagine, but rather in parts: the head (a thud), the abdomen and flesh limbs (so soft and muted that they were hardly audible), and last of all, the metal leg (cling, clang, gravelly ping).

Then, Envy silenced himself and squinted against the dimness.

Click. Roll. Pant. Pant. Gasp.

The fun was about to begin.

What came next, Envy thought vaguely, could have best been called a 'blur': a hand on the ground, the scratch of nails, a loud grunt and an even louder cough; clink, clink, clink, like a countdown to doom ticked off in metallic thumps as opposed to steady heartbeats. Then, a snarl. A louder clink. Wild tossed hair and wilder eyes; rage, a snort, a yell of indignation, teeth bared, growls of all volumes rolling between them like peals of thunder tumbling over clouds. Feet on wood. Automail on wood.

Clinks became bumps, and all at once, movement scattered the light beams, causing them to slant and diverge. The darkness had just fallen upon Envy's face by the time he had finished his short-lived but thorough celebration, and for one anticipatory sixteenth of a second, the entire train car yanked an illusion of silence and stillness over its sabulous hide.

Envy closed his eyes just in time for the first blow, biting down and trying in earnest to slide the budding smirk away from his lip. But it'd be better if I didn't, wouldn't it? he realized, feverishly, and with that, he laughed in defiance and challenged that vicious runt to keep at it—to see just how much he really didn't succeed in hurting his enemy, to learn just how little Envy honestly respected his efforts, to fully realize that even pinned to the wall and bleeding helplessly, Envy still had the power to infuriate him into doing something that was fucking stupid...and therefore...therefore he had a hell of a lot more control than Ed would have ever wanted to concede!

"Wh-what's wrong, Ed?" Sneer. "Takes a..." Lips split. "...a lot longer with..." Knuckles found one eye socket; capillaries were smashed to pulp, sending blood to pool in a heavy bruise. "—one fucking hand, d-doesn't it?" Crack. "So t-t-tell me; how long does it take to..." Cartilage gave way, and blood ran from Envy's nose. "...beat yourself?"

"Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!" Youthful saucer eyes were wide; one could have even called them panicked, as though Edward was more afraid than enraged, though Envy half-suspected he was more psychotic than either. "Don't...don't you EVER fucking SHUT UP?"

Laughs exploded from the homunculus's aching chest like a series of successive firecrackers, throwing commas between each punch, and when Envy felt his face grow hot and wet with blood, he turned and spat, promptly smiling in triumph as he considered that Edward was hurting himself more than he was hurting him, because he, after all, healed so very quickly, but not so for Ed, whose knuckles would eventually break from all the effort. Oh, beautiful fucking irony!

(...and almost where I want you...)

Half-opened lavender eyes took in the sight of the furrowed brow, the drawn lips behind which teeth undoubtedly ground together...and then he watched them open as Edward rasped hateful words at him, toxic syllables unfurling from his tongue, and the blows slowed as the blond drained himself of his energy...as he perhaps became more aware of the fact that Envy had gone silent in curiosity, admiration...and supplication. The violence paused, allowing for a long moment in which dreams spun about the cramped and stuffy car; a cool night breeze blew in from the door that had been left partially ajar, and when Ed's breathing grew tense, short, and quiet, its only answer came in the form of the rocking creak-creak of crates nuzzling one another like affectionate lovers, their closeness enhanced by the vibrations from the rumbling trains.

The evening was cool, dark, and beautiful, and Edward Elric was never more perfect than with red on his face, blood over his hand, and murder in his eyes.

Edward was never more exquisite than when caught loathing what he had done, questioning himself...he, the saint who would be rid of the Sin. He, whose fist drew blood. He, whose heart drew malice. Lost to his rage. Blinded and confused...if only for an instant.

Envy smiled up at him, blood dripping down his chin. An instant was all the time he needed to place the wedge where he so desired: between conscience and impulse. Edward always had been a creature who let the latter cloud the former, when sufficiently provoked.

Creak. Creak. Creak.

"Well..." The homunculus's eyes narrowed. A bloody tongue—not healing as quickly as once it would have—distorted his words, if only mildly. "...seems I've finally figured out why you saved me back there." A grin like acid. "So the little sadist wants a punching bag, does he? Admit it, Shorty! You get off on violence, as you've more than demonstrated before..." He wiggled in pleasure, not paying any mind to the stinging pain that the boy had inflicted upon him. Oh, yes. That detail was far too delicious to keep from getting excited about. "...and you don't feel bad about beating up on me, right? 'Cause I'm not human—"

"N-no...no...I mean, you're not...that's right, but no..."

'No'? Not 'shut up'? Envy quirked an eyebrow. An actual argument rather than an outright dismissal, then? How interesting. Seemed he really was making progress with the feisty little bastard.

"Heh. You really love violence, don't you?" Envy tilted his head, giving Ed a better view of his throbbing cheek, the cheek Edward's knuckles had so efficiently ensanguined. Envy's teeth were perilous, cruel, and they had opened his tongue to thick, wet redness.

He couldn't see his own expression, but he could see the way his hair leapt messily about his countenance, and he could feel the stones he was dripping one by one onto his neck and chest; Edward's horror was paramount, tangible, rising off of him like waves of sunlight amplified by a magnifying glass, and maybe it was just so. Maybe the boy was the child of the sunlight, and Envy was the glass through which the full heat of his temper would be realized.

Envy's breathing tapered to a quietness that could rival the ocean's surface on a moonless night. "We're alike there, y'know. You—" A whisper. "—love being like that. It's why you joined the military, right? Right? Every human is a killer...it's all about degree. How many times do I have to say that, eh? Well—"

"No. You don't know what you're talking about." The pace of Edward's words was measured, sane. Envy scowled in disapproval. "You don't know anything! You're insane. Fucking insane. Do you hear me, Envy?" Ed's single hand tapped Envy's neck, fingers brushing over the throat he had squeezed long before, and Envy laughed so hard that Ed's touch became tremulous. "You're crazy...and if you weren't...if you weren't..."

The blond shook his head. Hair soaked in sweat and water from his recent shower obscured Edward's eyes when he looked down, panting brokenly, perspiration sauntering over the sharp incline of his nose. "If you weren't crazy...then y-you'd realize that w-we're alike in other ways." He swallowed. "Y-you'd see that...that Dad left me...same as he did you."

Fingers again went for the throat, this time pinching the thin skin just above the hidden patch of vocal chords. Envy held deathly still, intrigued by this new twist. "...Damn. Damn it. Why, Envy? Why do you have to be this way? I-it...I...you're ridiculous, you know that? Do you have any idea just how silly you are? How stupid? How wrong? I could show you the truth, show you exactly why I'm right, but..."

Teeth descended upon Ed's lower lip, chafing it, and suddenly, he looked up and directly into Envy's eyes.

Shadows came between their bodies, percolating through their flesh, riding high on rising and falling shoulders and caroming off the assorted screws of Edward's automail; Envy let his eyes traverse the chest, the belly, the legs which were nearly rubbing up against him without actually doing so. Nude. All nude. Nude and wet; a pictorial of light and dark, opposites, truths and enigmas, and when Envy felt his resistance abate, he eased back against the wall and let himself heal, all the while slowly lifting one leg and tentatively (touching, caressing, stroking) bending it so as to hook together the soft indents behind each of their knees.

Edward seemed far too focused on his own emotions to even notice.

"...but I guess we'll never understand each other. A-a-and that's fine. Whatever. But you can...leave me...al—"

"What's the matter, Edward? Seems you're having a hard time finding your words."

He slid his foot up sharply and kicked the back of Ed's leg, successfully knocking him forward. Ed barely succeeded in producing one half-formed cry of protest before his entire weight toppled onto Envy, cool metal striking his knee with enough force to cause him to shiver, but not enough to cause pain. When Ed lost his balance (largely on account of his missing limb) and struggled to regain his earlier position, Envy took the opportunity to yank one hand downwards so hard that wire bit into his sinews and he squealed from the sudden, dizzying flare of pain.

The alchemist's body was sturdy, his weight comfortable; his breathing was hot and ragged and his skin was warm with life and cold with a fading layer of well water. When Envy wrapped his legs around Edward's waist and pulled the other's body up to his, he felt the smoothness of the human flesh (like a goddamned baby's...)—slightly bath-wrinkled softness over firm youthful muscles, small traces of grit and dust coating his epidermis like a miniature army on an otherwise unblemished field, automail ridges like metal lips pressing kisses to Envy's own exposed flesh.

Dark. Everything was dark but for a sliver of that face—

that face whose features were so perfect, and yet, for Envy, so intrinsically painful...all the more so because everything about the boy was lovely, and everything about the boy was a reminder of...

You were right when you said we couldn't understand one another, you poor brat; you only understand pain when it's handed out in fists and feet, punches and kicks and angry words. You don't understand—can't understand—that you hurt me just by existing, that it makes my skin crawl just to look at you, to see every fucking thing that was mine being worn by you...

The shaky, bloody hand that he had torn free was raised up; slim fingers made a move to touch Edward's face—that fucking face which was his by right—but the would-be recipient snapped out of his momentary daze and slapped Envy away with a grunt. Then, apparently comprehending that Envy's attempted touch meant that Envy had in fact freed a hand, Ed gasped, eyes wide, and he immediately began fumbling to restore the Sin to his confines.

Oh no you fucking don't! Envy thought, petulantly, somewhere between annoyed and enraged that Ed was trying to bind him again, that Ed was ruining all of his efforts!

He kicked, thrashed, groaned, kneed Ed in the gut so hard that he cried out, and then his hand shot out and grabbed his captor's own hand, swatting and clawing and doing his best to push the damned thing away with whatever strength he had left in him.

"One h-h-hand a-against one hand, Hagan-ne n-no Ochibi-san!"

Fingers came together, curling savagely. Ed pushed back, palm to palm; joints strained, knuckles threatened to shatter. Envy hissed and whined and drove one foot onto the ground for leverage, letting the other foot thump furiously as an injection of agony shot into his forearm. In spite of the visible strain on his face and the tension in his shadow-laden eyes, Edward didn't even make a sound as Envy whined and yelled and squealed in hate and pain.

"...No." Shifting. The ominous, unwieldy-sounding motion of metal bumping over wood. "That's where you're wrong."

Envy's head hit the wall with a frighteningly loud crack, and in the shadows, he heard the sound of Ed's satisfied, darkly amused laugh.

A...knee.

Envy blinked, staring in horrified wonder, letting the pain in his face subside before he even thought about speaking. The...the fucking bastard had stuck his metal knee right into his jaw, and Envy couldn't even reach his hands up to pat the swelling flesh that roiled with pain. He twitched, watching Ed's expression through dusty wet eyes.

Although they were close, they may as well have existed in different dimensions: Edward was smirking, but tensely, darkly...the sort of smirk that could become a grimace in the blink of an eye.

"One hand against one hand...and one automail leg."

Lunatic grin firmly in place, Ed shoved his knee forward in order to illustrate his point; a metal foot rested between the homunculus's spread legs. Envy heard his own breathing, though it sounded distant and odd; his eyes fixed upon Ed's face, on the stretched muscles and the wildly confident, vicious sneer, on the sound of the harsh pants slipping through his teeth and his warm large eyes that were seemingly in a hurry to rip away from his face.

(...lost, lost...you...maybe try a different route...)

Astonishment poisoned Edward's sneer.

Envy let his own facial muscles go slack, rimpling considerably before all tension fled the sinews; the appearance of resistance melted like an icicle, exposing the homunculus's features for what they truly were when all fury was turned aside.

While Ed looked upon him, probably attempting to puzzle out the sudden absence of conflict (wondering if he's won, no doubt...), Envy resumed his previous slumping in the corner, but he never pulled his legs away from Edward. One foot pawed at the flesh thigh, brushing an ankle against it as Envy absently, unconsciously went about trying to uphold his earlier determination. The train car seemed to have gotten so much smaller in the space of a few seconds, and Ed's weight and breath were both wearing down on Envy's long dead nerves.

Caution apparent in his slowness, Ed tried to move—to move away.

"D-d-don't..." Envy protested, softly, head still spinning from the force of the blow that Ed had just delivered. "Don't f-fucking leave me. Don't...don't...y-you short...fucking...ah..."

He looked up expectantly, trying to figure out what he saw on the other's face. His bloody hand—miraculously forgotten by the alchemist—reached up again, but carelessly, clumsily. Fingers bent and twitched and played over whatever they could touch. Far away from his shaken mind, he felt skin spread out beneath the tips of his sore, sensitive, injured digits. Nerves all over his body were once again shot: twisted, snapped, severed.

As it had been with his oil experience of many long years before, Envy reached blindly, a child groping for the soft tresses of his caretaker's hair—a child letting his hand wander into the watery, shadowy world of the witching hour.

Ed had pulled back once before. Edward had anchored him. Fire or oil or drowning; they were all the same, and without that hand to clutch his, Envy thought he might sink into complete madness before death claimed him...and enough sanity remained for that to be a frightening prospect.

For once, Envy wished he knew enough about humans (and others in general) to recognize what he saw on Ed's face at that juncture, but his mind had about as much difficulty with it as a person would have trying to reason out a foreign language by simply looking upon its symbols and tracing them with fingertips.

"Why a-are you looking at me like t-that?" Envy asked abruptly, panicking. Well, hell, if he couldn't figure it out, he could always ask! His chest had grown tight and his throat was constricting, trying to sever his rebellious, unwanted, needy words, but he couldn't seem to choke the desperation behind them. Drowning, drowning, drowning... "Stop it, you fucking bastard! What the fuck is wrong with you? Say something!"

Cold...he was being too cold...too detached...

"I..."

"What? WHAT, Edward? WHAT?" the homunculus pressed, all but begging for some response besides clinical, scientific analysis. He didn't want...couldn't take an emotional distance! Not from someone who looked like that. He swallowed hard, anticipating some words, pleading with wide eyes. "D-don't just stare at me like I'm a part of your goddamned alchemy, you fucking PRI—"

"Wait! Wait, let me respond! Shut up. I'm...I'm not going to..."

He swallowed, then looked away for a moment and shook his head.

His eyes were wide again, large as golden clocks, but his words seemed to grow steadier and more somber as he kicked his amazement aside. In a hushed whisper, he said,

"...I'm not going to leave you, okay? OKAY, you crazy bastard? I...well, you would probably deserve it if I did...you sick freak...and I'm f-fucking tempted to kick you in the chest, and threaten you, knock you down, kick you in the stomach, and wh-whatever the hell else you did to me...maybe rip your stupid arm off...or something..."

A sigh.

"Yeah, you'd deserve all of that, y'know, but I made a choice, and even though it was probably a dumb-ass choice, I did make it, and I'm gonna stand by it." He cast a stray glance in the direction of his automail port; then, suddenly, his eyes returned to Envy, and there was something not so unlike hope within them. "Wait...wait, that's it, right?"

Envy touched his healing jaw; it still felt so massive, swollen with pain, throbbing and smeared with stones which hadn't yet seen fit to dissipate. "What? What...what are you...?"

"You get lonely, don't you? L-like you...you don't miss people, but you don't like being by yourself, right? Well, that's something we have in common. I mean...I hate being alone, too. I hate it so much that...that..."

The words were there, unspoken, metal shavings in both of their throats.

But Envy knew. He wasn't good at gauging what humans thought, not even the basics of most emotions besides hate, but he knew.

"You hate it so much that you saved me to keep from being alone, right?" He huffed indignantly. "Asshole. See, Elric? Life is as meaningless to you as it is to me; the only difference is that we make exceptions for whose lives are meaningless. Well..." He glared miserably. "...you make exceptions, that is. I don't. All lives are meaningless to me, and my life is meaningless to you, except when you need something from me."

Ed shrugged. "If your life is meaningless, it's because you don't bother giving it any value."

"I didn't say anything about my life!"

"You said 'all lives' are meaningless to you. Logic tells me that includes your life. You've given your life one meaning and one meaning only, and that's hate. And now you have no way to do anything with that hatred, so your life is essentially meaningless. But that's your fault, not mine."

Envy groaned and kicked Ed's automail leg, all the while steaming pissily like a child denied a prize, but Edward did not move; in fact, he did nothing but regard the Sin with that eerily placid golden gaze.

"And how is that any worse than you?" Envy asked finally, looking away stubbornly. It was too dark to see Ed well, but he could see those damned eyes. "I did everything I did for hatred. You did everything you did for love. I-it's s-still obsession...and...singlemindedness..."

"What? No! Don't you even start that compar—"

"It's true!" Envy grabbed Ed's arm and held him firmly in place.

He returned his own gaze to Ed, this time imbuing it with all the frenetic intensity he was capable of feeling, although he didn't quite know what he wanted from the alchemist in the way of a reply. Maybe just agreement, or maybe something more and something else.

"It's true! I bet you never thought about what you'd do after you got your brother's body back, right? Right? Everything was always about him. Al, Al, ALPHONSE. How the fuck is that any different from me? Huh? Huh?" He jerked the boy's arm. "Well?"

"Because..."

"I can't hear you, Edward!"

"BECAUSE I CAN FUCKING ADAPT, THAT'S HOW!" Ed exhaled, practically heaving with the tension of his rising and falling chest. "B-because I would have had a life after Al's body had been restored, even if I didn't sit and think about what that life would be. I didn't plan my future...but I would've had one. You..." He laughed dryly. "Well, look at you. Look at us now. Who's adapting, and who's not?"

"Oh? And who says I can't adapt?" He raised his hand to Ed's shoulder, letting his thumb draw small circles over the humerus and the smooth bursae; then he moved back and made his fingers dance dangerously close to the scapula. If both hands had been free, it would have been far too akin to an embrace. "I can't kill you, like I want, so who says I can't find other uses for you? Mm, seems you're still between my legs, Shorty."

A smirk trailed the words, at least on Envy's part. Edward didn't find the semi-facetious observation anywhere near as amusing. A ripe infusion of cherry burst into his cheeks like two blooming poppies, and when he attempted to squirm away, Envy snickered and pulled him forward with all the strength that remained in his once powerful body.

He tasted, Envy thought when he kissed him, like salt and sugar, like iron and metal and acid ions, like soil and sweat and that heady, heady taste of human—heat and blood and musk and chypre and so many other things; the liquor of a human body was a perfume made of oils, a wide variety of tastes and scents that a homunculus's single unique imprint could never hope to parallel—a noxious brew, to be sure, but Envy wanted more, more, more; he wanted to grow drunk off of the taste, he had decided, because the tangy scent and the strange proximity of the boy had been influencing his goddamned mind for too fucking long and he just wanted to satiate his stupid libido and be done with it already!

Ed, it seemed, had brushed his teeth since coming to the train yard, which didn't surprise Envy in the least, but his taste would still have been far too overwhelming for the palates of most humans. Sweet, sour, spicy, oh so salty and bitter; his gums and tongue and teeth were thick with his own personal sauce—"Ed in a bottle" it might have been cheaply and cheesily called if it were to be manufactured and distributed for wide usage. Well, now he was just being stupid, Envy thought to himself as he swirled his tongue against the blond's and tried to hold him as he struggled to pull away.

"...whatthefuck..." was more or less the emission which followed as soon as Ed did manage to wrestle free from Envy's grasp. "Whatthe...youcrazyfucking—"

"Shut up, you asshole. Don't say anything. Don't say a goddamned thing, because I don't want to hear it!" The homunculus wrapped his legs around Ed's waist and held him as firmly as he could. "Y-you think I fucking like this? Looking at you and seeing me? What belonged to me?"

"NOT LISTEN—"

"OH YES YOU WILL, RUNT!" Again he pulled him forward, this time with his legs instead of his free hand. Envy felt more than vaguely disgusted with himself for this, but he couldn't exactly afford to entertain those thoughts now; it'd be better to just get it over with so that they could both go on with their lives, he supposed. Well...until he ended Ed's life, of course, which had never stopped being his prime objective...but that remained a big 'later, sometime, someday, in the future'. "I fucking...fucking HATE you...want you dead...want to...kill..."

"...yeah...I kinda figured that out awhile ago..."

"—B-but—" Glad that homunculi were incapable of really growing nauseous, Envy arched his back, and—with a slight eager whimper—he ground his crotch against Ed's, fingers scrambling to grab those blond locks and hold them firmly; it was a horribly masochistic thing to do, and even as lust caught onto him and his inhuman body responded with all the characteristic reactions of a human (because, after all, being out of control of his once malleable flesh...it wasn't as though he had a damned choice about what his cock decided to do), he silently cursed himself and his stupid, weak (all too human) limitations...to say nothing of his stupid, weak desires.

"But I can't fucking kill you right now, s-so I..." Fuck; how did one even begin to explain it? He wasn't even sure he could explain it. Basically, he thought it boiled down to wanting to possess the object of his enmity in one way or another, whether through violence or fucking, or both, but that argument almost certainly wouldn't have been very persuasive for Edward. "You...you started this..."

"WHAT...? You fucking bastard! Not everything is my goddamned fault!"

Envy begged to differ, but this really wasn't the time to be discussing that. Edward—probably more because of morbid curiosity than genuine interest—had not yet tried again to pull away from him, and even if that meant nothing, Envy figured he had to at least try to steal this potential opportunity. "No, this is! I was content to just be your fucking enemy, but you had to...to c-complicate..."

"...bullshit..."

"...complicate things with your...your...ughhhhh."

He couldn't admit (and didn't particularly want to admit) how truly his name fit, how much he craved attention to appease the never-filled hole created by his missing soul and his first scarring memories as a homunculus. He couldn't, of course, tell Edward about all the things he had done to preserve Dante's constant affections, and he couldn't and wouldn't be frank regarding the way he always 'wanted, wanted, wanted' and 'needed, needed, needed'...and he'd never intended to want or need from the damned bastard's stupid spawn, but ever since he had lost his ability to inflict the levels of violence necessary to placate his thirsty rage...ever since that, his other needs had grown exponentionally.

If one couldn't get his faux orgasm thrills from murder and genocide, then only a few other outlets for passion remained.

"You saved me!" Envy tried, feebly. "You...you pulled me out of that damned pile of stones. And...then...wiring me up like this? You say I'm crazy, but what the fuck did you think you were doing treating me like this? I'm...you're my...ughhh. You blurred the fucking lines, you shit, and now you're going to finish what you started!"

"Envy. You're talking crazy again." Ed placed his hand on the wall and struggled to push himself to his feet, but Envy clung to him so hard that he groaned with the strain that the effort put on his muscles, and Ed gave him a curious (and possibly somewhat appalled) look. "Envy..."

"Don't. Don't pity me! I don't give a fuck about your pity. I don't give a fuck about anything besides you giving me what I want. You..." Fingers scratched Ed's shoulder, clawing viciously as Envy held onto the boy above him. "...you t-took me out of that fucking fire, and now I'm dying. You owe me. Equivalent exchange, right, Shorty? Right?"

Golden eyes rolled. Ed laughed breathlessly. "Oh no. That's not equivalent exchange. Not at all! If anyone owes anyone, it's you who owes me; I have to put up with your damned insanity!"

"Heh...whatever, brat. You can argue however you want, but that doesn't change the fact that you have me wired up, and you're naked, on top of me, sweaty and turned on..." His back bowed up as he crushed their pelves together, erections rubbing with such abrupt friction that Envy had to bite back a cry, and he was startled (albeit pleasantly so) to hear Edward gasp. "...and...and...ah...if I do say so myself, you don't seem to be trying too hard to get away. W-why's that, Shorty?"

Envy honestly didn't know, and he doubted Ed knew, either, so he wasn't surprised when his inquiry won him nothing more than copious awkward shuffling and vacant glances to and fro.

The kid didn't want this any more than he did, in his own way, but he also had plenty of good reasons to resist—not least of which being the fact that they hated one another, and in spite of that, Edward was hardly putting forth a good argument in favour of backing the hell off...probably because he was so confused, and he had a tendency to go wide-eyed and freeze in the face of confusion.

Envy smirked to himself, remembering the last time he had used Ed's momentary hesitation and confusion against him. Oh, yes. That had been positively sweet. The recollection of impaling Ed as he had done long before was so delicious that Envy purred and pushed even harder against his companion, flushed and desperate for sensation, cock twitching eagerly against his abdomen.

Edward's genius was a strange concoction, one which seemed to have adopted two distinct modes blended into a meringue mixture: On the one hand, he could be extremely calculating and precise, capable of contemplating a situation for hours or even days before deciding upon a specific (and impeccable) way of dealing with said situation.

On the other hand, his intellect also appeared to—in as much as Envy could figure—flood him with ideas, and when sufficiently provoked (or aroused, as the case may have been...though usually by anger), innumerable thoughts crashed around his skull like leaves in a hurricane of fast-paced passion. When that happened, his otherwise brilliant focus could be lost; after all, if one was filled with ideas, then one could not single in on a particular pattern of reasoning. In those pristine moments of ardour, Ed became both a deer in the headlights of various options and a vicious golden lion motivated by sheer impulse—a chimera of prey and predator spliced into a single being...though if he was prey to anything, it was assuredly his own mind.

The teen may have been Fullmetal, true enough, and once he really decided on something, there was no saying 'no' to him, but when he was uncertain, he definitely became susceptible to outside influences.

And if mad enough, or if under considerable stress...said outside influences could persuade him to do something he would otherwise deem 'stupid', or even 'awful'.

This was exactly what Envy counted on.

"I don't care about you," Ed insisted, panting shallowly, grimacing in pain or pleasure...or both, as the case may have been. "I don't..."

"N-no, no! Of course you don't! B-but you w-want...want me...cause you're a little s-sadist who's never been in control of your own life...always under someone's thumb, right Ed? Always l-living for your adorable brother or serving under that C-colonel you think is such a bah...bastard...isn't that right?" He pressed his hand down upon Ed's shoulder, pushing in the hopes of lowering him again, but though Ed shook, he never slipped. "Well...now you're your own boss, Elric. Must really turn you on. Must be something to look down at me...your enemy...naked, bloody, wired up, and at your complete mercy."

Actually, he didn't know if that was true or not. He didn't know (or care) enough about human psychology to have any idea if his own theories had any merit, but it seemed logical to suppose that Ed harboured deeply buried resentment and rage, and if his libido couldn't be adequately channeled through simple lust, then perhaps anger was a better outlet for the flow of his suppressed carnal desires.

And why wouldn't Envy's words have been accurate, after all? For someone as strong-willed as Edward Elric, it truly must've been torture to have always been subservient to others out of pure necessity. It must have been a rush—a jolt—to know that now he was the one calling the shots. Or, well, he thought he was, anyway, and Envy encouraged that belief. He knew better, but Ed probably didn't, and that was the important part.

He lay back and watched in contented amusement as the flabbergasted former alchemist sat above him, legs between legs; Edward remained propped up on his only remaining hand, mutterings of everything and nothing spilling from his lips as tension built upon his reddened, shadow-camouflaged face. Almost. Almost there, Envy thought as the night strung its awning up over them, as the creaking objects and hopping shadows played the tune of this twining, building madness.

This, Envy had affirmed to himself, was a night for Edward to do something he would regret, and that thought was a sweet one in and of itself, never mind that this regrettable deed would also propitiate his own beguiled libido; he wanted the damned thing mollified wholly and beaten into absolute submission, and he couldn't fathom why Ed was being so fucking reticent! He had felt the same tension from the little shit as he had felt within himself, and he couldn't understand what possible lousy human rationale could veto the urge to flush out unwanted and unwarranted needs which both of their bodies deemed parasitic organisms; if a bit of bump and grind cock-to-orifice action was what it took to purge their brains of numerous unnecessary hormonal secretions, then Envy was more than willing to fucking deal with it.

And Ed, being a practical sort, had to appreciate this logic as much as Envy did.

"You killed me!" the blond argued, obviously at his wit's end, and if he'd had two arms, at that point he surely would have been flailing. As it was, he looked panicked—trapped like some variant of small furry mammal, which Envy found highly ironic, given that he was the one who couldn't actually scurry off.

The look on his face was so ridiculously baffled that Envy almost burst out laughing; it was highly evident that even he didn't fully comprehend his own emotions and thoughts at that point in time.

"So? I only killed you once! You steal my identity every fucking day!"

"WHAT? THAT MAKES NO—"

Before a scowl could hobble onto his forehead, Envy lowered his hand and dug his fingers into the tense muscles stretching above Edward's scapula, easing the shaking body downwards as uneven breaths suffused over his pallid flesh, providing more heat upon Envy's chest and face than centuries' worth of his own breathing had ever granted him. Ab initio. Hot and cold, hate and lust, pleasure and pain. Alpha, omega, and all that jazz. If eyes were the windows to the soul, then Edward's soul was currently engaged in a shockingly vexing game of emotional pinball: zing, ping, ploink—every which way his feelings seemed to bounce, and every which way his eyes turned as he descended (as Envy made him descend, though curiously, there was only the most pathetically sparse resistance) upon the Sin, shelves of sweaty flesh colliding like celestial forms hopelessly enslaved by gravity.

A wry smirk ricked Envy's colourless lips.

"...no one will ever know," he whispered as his senses ran to swab the boy's intrinsic belongings: the warmth of his skin, the softness of the newly cleaned hair that looped Envy's fingers like gilded tatting, and his scent—brackish as the rocks near the sea, alkaline and electric. So this is what 'teenage male' smells like, Envy's mind hummed from far away, and a hyper tingle jerked his spine and caused him to gasp as long-murdered memories of sensation quietly interjected his traipsing thoughts. Felt...strange...(...confusing...); he didn't want to remember his fucking life!

This wasn't how he'd planned things; not at all. Envy would have preferred to be on top, for one.

Yet, when he'd had the opportunity to inflict an excruciatingly violent rape upon the little blond toy—when Edward had been the restrained one—the notion had, embarrassingly enough, not even chosen to flicker across his consciousness. It was almost laughable to think about this now; it had only been a few weeks ago, yet it felt as much like another lifetime as did Envy's former humanity. Acrid and ironic were the days when Envy had despised so passionately and yet so precisely that his goals were simple threadbare destruction and possibly torture for both Edward and Hohenheim.

The passion was still there...and the hatred...but the precision...

...well, that seemed to be slightly...lacking...of late...

"...right..." Ed agreed in a fervent, asthmatic whisper, breath whistling through his teeth. His eyes were closed, scrunched tightly; a firth of sweat glistened on his face like a shining coverlet. "...n-nothing but a...a release...a catharsis...nothing else...j-just...one time...d-doesn't matter..."

Success.