velvet mace

A Choice of Evils

"Sir, you have a message from a Miss Darlene."

Archer looked up from the field reports to spare the sergeant an annoyed look. The war in Lior was so close he could almost taste it. He didn't need to be dealing with this right now. Without saying a word, Archer waved his fingers in the Sergeants direction. The man quickly handed him the slip of paper, and Archer scanned it over.

Looking forward to our date, meet me at 5th and Grovners, 6pm sharp

Date, huh. Archer wondered which of Greed's whores would be posing as his date this time. The arrangement made him uncomfortable. Yet it was more secure than using phone lines, and involved fewer third parties than using the mail. And besides Greed had his own reasons for getting Archer's reports in person.

What's more, Greed's girls had rather improved Archer's reputation around Southern Headquarters. Though it hardly seemed like it should matter, his underlings had shown more natural respect once he started slipping out for regular rendezvous with attractive women. The hickies, which despite Archer's best attempts he could not always hide, brought a mix of amusement and respect from the lower ranks. He'd even overheard himself being described as a ladies man, which was flattering, if not remotely true.

And then there was the fact that he was "getting some," as the enlisted men called it. That, Archer had to admit, was a nice side benefit.

But balancing all that was a lot of plain filth, and nothing bothered Archer more than being unclean. Who knew where those women had been before he picked them up on his "dates". Had they even showered? And Greed—sometimes it seemed that homunculus lived for dirt. Dirty women, dirty acts, dirt on his enemies, dirt on his own henchmen. It made Archer's skin itch.

"Sergeant," said Archer, putting down the note. "Please arrange a car for me for 5:45."

"Yes, sir."


Archer waited for him to leave the room before jotting down notes from the mission reports. He wished he could have one of the secretaries simply copy the documents, but it would be far too indiscrete. He'd seen Bradley in action enough times to know that if even a hint of his actions got out, he'd be summarily executed.

On the other hand, not spying for Greed wasn't an option either. The homunculus had made a point of showing up at random when Archer was walking about town. No public place was safe, a park, a grocery store, the laundromat. Archer would turn his head and there Greed would be, acting casual. Though he never spoke to Archer, his sharp-toothed grin spoke volumes. Greed was just as jealous of his minion's loyalty as Bradley, and just as ruthless when betrayed.

Archer pressed his thin lips together and quickly summarized the important information that had crossed his desk in the last week. No point in writing anything lengthy, since Greed would just insist he repeat the information orally. Names, places, the number of troops assigned to various places, things his mind might mess up under pressure. None of it had anything to do with Greed or his aims, but the homunculus insisted Archer put down everything that had to do with the pending war in Lior, or Bradley, or the Elrics.

Time slipped by and there was a knock on the door. Archer quickly pushed the papers into a manila envelope and sealed it. "Come in," he said.

"Sir, your car will be ready in five minutes."

"Good. Thank you, Sergeant. I'll see you tomorrow." Archer stood up, smoothing down his unwrinkled uniform and straightening his already straight collar. He took out a mirror from his desk and examined his face. As always, he was neat, hair combed, face scrubbed spotless. He looked acceptable for a meeting with a lady, sadly the woman he'd be seeing was anything but.

With deliberate casualness performed for an audience of no one, he tucked the damning envelope under his armpit. He chastised himself for sweating. He was a soldier; taking risks were expected.

But good soldiers only took necessary ones. He pulled a brown paper package from his desk, and transferred it quickly to his coat pocket. Condoms, more than he would need. Admission of his sins, and a breath of sanity all in one neat rubber sheath. Immediately, he felt a little better about the rendezvous.

The next few minutes were the most dangerous. It was one thing to take notes for his own use in the office, it was quite another to carry them out of the building. If the MP's were to stop and search him now, it wouldn't take a genius to put the picture together. He wouldn't be the first high-ranking military man to exchange state secrets for sex from a beautiful woman. The envelope and the condoms in his pocket would be all the physical evidence needed to put Archer in front of a firing line.

The only thing missing from the equation was Greed himself, but that benefited no one but Greed. Archer didn't even know where the homunculus had holed up. Probably some dive like the Devil's Nest, where the military wasn't loved, and the whores and chimeras fit in with the general ambiance. Archer didn't know. Just in case Archer was ever caught and questioned, Greed invariably debriefed Archer in random hotel rooms.

Spy work really didn't suit Archer. There were many moments when he longed to turn the clock back two months, before the failed raid on the Devil's Nest brought him to Greed's attention. A dozen tiny decisions would have sent his fate spinning in another direction. But there was no help for it now. And so long as Archer was able to navigate the tightrope and keep both his sworn masters happy, he could have everything: His rank, his ambitions and his life.

"Pull over," said Archer to the driver as the neared the corner of the 5th and Grovners. "There she is." At least "there" Archer sincerely hoped "she" was. The woman standing on the curb wore a prim flower print dress and an oversized hat that drew attention away from her face. Archer had never seen her before, for all he knew she was some anonymous housewife who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. It would be embarrassing and very suspicious if Archer didn't recognize the woman he was supposedly dating.

Thankfully, she stepped lightly to the car as soon as it came to a stop. The driver quickly stepped out and opened the door for her. Archer slid over to give her some room, but wasn't surprised to feel her arms close around his shoulders. He tried not to stiffen up. The driver wasn't paying too much attention, but still, he had to make this seem normal.

He obligingly planted a dry chaste peck on her cheek then settled back in his seat. "It's good to see you, D—Darlene." He'd almost said Deirdre. Damn butterflies.

"I've been looking forward to this all day, Frank," said Darlene. She was a better actor than he was. She then leaned forward and said, "Please drop us off at the Love Love motel." The name came smoothly, and without the faintest trace of embarrassment.

Archer winced. "Wouldn't you like to go out to dinner first, my dear." It was ridiculous, Greed wouldn't allow it, but still he felt he had to somehow rescue his reputation in front of this nameless driver. Being a ladies man didn't count if the "ladies" were known to be sluts.

Darlene looked surprised and almost laughed, but she caught herself. "What a lovely idea, we can go out afterwards," she said.

The rest of the ride went in silence, and the driver dropped them off at the hotel without even a raised eyebrow. The only acknowledgement of the situation the soldier gave was when he asked what time he should pick Archer up. Although this was the kind of hotel that charged by the hour, Archer sent the man on, saying that wouldn't need his services the rest of the night. He'd call for a cab later, when Greed was done with him.

The whore kept up the pretense of being his date until they reached the room. Then she abruptly let go of his arm. "All yours, boss," she said, and then walked across the ratty pea green carpet to the bathroom and disappeared inside.

Archer turned and looked at the single queen sized bed. Greed lay on his back, his arms loosely crossing his chest. "Good evening, Frank. So what do you have for me this time?"

"More of the same," said Archer. "The pieces are in place in Lior. It's just a matter of getting the troops assembled." He tossed the envelope onto the bed. Greed tore it open and began reading. There was no place to sit in the room so Archer found a section of wall plant himself next to.

After a few minutes, Darlene emerged from the bathroom looking decidedly different. The hat was gone. Her flower print dress was exchanged for a clingy red number that left large portions of her anatomy exposed, and the rest clearly delineated. She paused by the large mirror to paint some fire engine red lipstick on her mouth.

Archer said nothing as she waved at Greed. "See ya, boss. Hey Frank, look me up later for that dinner. I'll be 8th street. It's 4000 cenz an hour and you pay for the meal." She then had the audacity to wink at him.

Greed grinned. "Never mind her price," he said to Archer. "You want to take her out, I'll give you that for free. Employee's discount."

Archer flushed. "I have no interest in taking her out. I only said that for appearances. Speaking of which, Greed, I've got an image to maintain, and you aren't helping it by meeting in such—seedy places. If we could just meet at hotel that has a restaurant attached—something classier, I think it would seem more natural."

Greed didn't look up from Archer's notes, but made an offhanded "settle down" gesture. "It's not my intention to make you uncomfortable, Frank. If you are willing to pay the higher bill, I'm perfectly willing to meet at a four star hotel."

Archer bristled. "So now you want me to pay for the privilege of being your mole?"

Greed laughed. "You can't say you don't get anything out of this, Frank. When I have my hands on that Philosopher's stone, you will be rewarded very richly indeed. But you are right. I can pay for a better hotel—but I'll expect better service to come with it."

Archer chose to misinterpret that remark. "I'm giving you the best service I can. Trust me, there is no one who wants you to get your hands on the Philosopher's Stone more than I do. The sooner you depose Bradley, the sooner I can breathe again. Though it may not seem it to you, being a traitor doesn't sit well with my conscience."

"Still working to save your skin, Frank." Greed gave the papers one last glance, then tucked them back in their envelope. "I'm glad you've decided I'm the more dangerous person to cross. It does much for my ego. Now, speaking of skin, why don't you slip out of that uniform, show me a bit of that loyalty."

Archer blushed, he knew this was coming, but somehow the offhanded expectation rankled more than it had before. Even Bradley respected Archer more than this. Archer had been putting his life on the line for Greed, he deserved at least some consideration for the trouble.

His stomach suddenly burned. "Is that all this is? Some sort of loyalty test? I should think the notes I gave you would be proof enough."

Greed's smile didn't twitch. "The notes are useful, but not your only use. When I claimed you as mine, I claimed all of you, not just that piece you've loaned out to my brother." Greed sat up and put the envelope on the table next to the bed. "Besides it's much more fun to mix business with pleasure, don't you agree."

"Well, I'm not really in a place to disagree," said Archer, bitterly.

"Tsk," said Greed. "I've yet to hear your body complain."

"You don't walk home with the aches."

But Greed did have a point. Perhaps the first encounter had been a bit strained, but since then Archer had rather come to like Greed's attention. The Sin was undeniably attractive and had definite talent in bed. That combined with an overwhelming natural charisma to make Archer forgive a multitude of lesser indignities. Archer sometimes wondered if ultimately the reason he'd sided with Greed was his not for his power and ideas, but his flattering possessiveness.

Archer had never been wanted by anyone as much as Greed so clearly demonstrated he wanted him.

Greed's attention narrowed on Archer's words. "Are you actually challenging me?" Archer heard the edge behind the amusement. Greed's eyes flashed.

Archer's ire faded abruptly. "Not at all, sir," he said, quickly, and pulled off his coat. His hand went into the pocket. "If I were trying to talk my way out of sleeping with you, I wouldn't have brought these."

"That's better. I didn't think you were." Greed smiled luxuriantly, then his eyes paused on the package Archer pulled out. "What's that?"

"Condoms—I thought, this time, we could be a bit more civilized. It's more sanitary, less mess—"

Archer wasn't sure how Greed got to be right there in his face, but abruptly there seemed no room to breathe and the homunculus was staring down at him with no smile whatsoever.

"What has gotten into you today, Frank." The homunculus pulled the package out of his hand and tossed it across the room. It hit the wall and bounced into the trash. "I'm not wearing one of those awful things. And I won't have you wearing one either."

Archer swallowed. "Sir, I realize you are a homunculus and you don't consider these things. But you do sleep with those whores and who knows whom they've been sleeping with. There are diseases. I'm really not asking for much here."

"I think you are asking for a lot," said Greed. "I think you have completely forgotten who you are with. Trust me, Frank, your chances of getting a nasty disease from my prick is a hell of a lot lower than your getting a nasty cut from my claws. And as for the mess, sex is supposed to be messy. I like it that way. I'll indulge your clean fetish only so far."

Like not at all, Archer chose not to say.

Greed reached out a hand and roughly mussed Archer's hair. "Now let' me see what's worth getting a four star hotel for."

Archer didn't try to argue. Damn it, he was right back where he'd started, trying to prove his worth again. Greed was even worse about sharing power than Bradley. At least the Fuhrer listened to Archer's arguments and considered modifying his plans. Bradley didn't actually interfere with him doing his job.

The way Greed was right now. Apparently Archer wasn't throwing off his clothes quite fast enough. The Sin slid around him, impatiently yanking Archer's belt and pushing down his pants and shorts. It was only after Greed had managed to shackle Archer's ankles with his clothes that the Sin considered the problem of the shoes. It was all out of order, and Greed's impatience was actually getting in the way of what Greed wanted. As always.

Greed solved the problem by lifting Archer up by his waist and tossing him on the bed. Archer noticed the pleased look on the sin's face for getting out of trouble that half a moments consideration would have kept him from falling into in the first place. Greed roughly undid Archer's laces and pulled the shoes off, freeing him to remove his pants.

Archer finished getting his dress shirt unbuttoned before Greed had a chance to be clever getting that off as well. His muscles twitched when Greed grabbed his discarded clothing and tossed them across the room. Archer could have had the clothes folded in less than 30 seconds, but no. Now they'd be wrinkled when he put them back on.

Archer's head had hardly hit the over soft pillow before the homunculus was on him, straddling his naked body, running his fingers gently over his skin. Archer felt forgiveness welling up in him. But just as Archer's eyes began to close in appreciation, he heard the Sin's voice in his ear: "Tell me more about the Elrics."

Oh for the love of— Archer did not roll his eyes. Couldn't the debriefing wait until after they'd come?

Archer worked to find his tongue while Greed used his to trace the folds of Archer's ear. "Nuh—not much-ch more to say. They were spotted at a train de—de—-depot, freeing some, what were they—" Greed's mouth had moved down the side of Archer's neck and had settled at the juncture of the shoulder, mouthing and licking, grazing the flesh with his sharp teeth. One of Greed's hands alternately stroked and gently tugged Archer's hair, the other rested on the bed next to his shoulder. "Ishballan's!" said Archer finding the word. "Ishballan refugees, being sent to—to—camps." He paused to catch his breath.

Greed lifted his mouth away from Archer's flesh. "Go on."

"Yes, that was it. It was brief. There was a lot of, a lot of, a lot of chaos. Disorder. Greed, please." Greed was nosing his ear, breathing hot breath against his ticklish eardrum. Archer heard a low chuckle. "It's really hard to concentrate when you do that."

"Where'd they go."

"We didn't see. Mustang might kno—OW!" Greed chose that moment to nip Archer's neck, not hard enough to break the skin but definitely enough to completely derail his train of thought.

"Mustang, Mustang," said Greed when he let go. "Not really on top of his underlings is he." Greed punctuated the sentence with a grind of his hips against Archer's upper thighs. "You should get Elric to transfer to your command."

"Once I have them tracked down again—I've given orders that they be escorted directly to southern command. I have a few incentives lined up. From what I can tell there is no particular love between Elric and Mustang, so it shouldn't be that haaaaaaaard—Greed please, not there!"

Greed was too busy making a new hicky on the underside of Archer's chin to reply. Damn it, another location that wouldn't be easy to cover. "Perhaps you can do better in that regard," said Greed after a moment. Archer noted the look of intense satisfaction on Greed's face for having successfully once again marked his territory.

"I'm sure I can, but Greed, Greed, ah Greed!"

Greed was making another hicky, this time on Archer's shoulder. It was definitely time to move Greed's mind away from his mouth and down to a portion of his anatomy that both of them could appreciate. Archer made a fumbling attempt to loosen Greed's clothes and reciprocate the more tender caresses, but the position and the way Greed was moving made it all but impossible.

It wasn't working. None of this was working. It could work, it would work, but not the way Greed was going about it.

Suddenly, Archer's hands moved of their own accord to pull Greed's head away from his skin. He squirmed under the homunculus's weight; feeling trapped and not very turned on. "Damn it," said Archer. "Get off!" He had both hands on Greed's shoulders and pushed.

Greed lifted his head, furious. "What is your problem today, Frank?"

"Goddamn it, Greed, enough! Stop treating me like a goddamn hostage! You want four-star service; give me a chance to give it to you. Damn it, man. You want my body, I want to give it to you. You want my work, I want to work for you. We are on the same side, but you keep getting in the way of me doing what you want."

Greed rolled off of him, and lay stretched out on his side. The smile was off his face and there was a resentful look in his eyes that suggested that he wasn't in the mood to hear what Archer had to say.

It took effort not to just crumble and say, never mind, do what you like. Archer girded his stomach and launched on, realizing that he was likely to get a cuff for his presumption. "I'm not trying to trick you, Greed," Archer said. "I chose you. I'm not backing out. I'm not stringing you along. God's sake, why do you even want me if you can't trust me without controlling my every move."

Then Archer rolled over onto Greed, mimicking the position the Sin earlier held on him. It was clear from Greeds skeptical expression that words weren't enough, Archer needed to prove his sincerity. He was up to the task. He'd fight his way through Greed's preconceptions and make him forget the rough start to their relationship. He'd wear down that wariness, and replace it with respect. He could do it.

Archer began the frontal assault with his mouth and hands. His fingers were free now to unbutton Greed's pants and slide the zipper down. Greed's erection sprang free the fabric. Greed's shirt was not actually a shirt at all but rather an extension of his skin. He wasn't surprised when it dissolved under his caresses. He caught Greed's lips and took them in, passionately, and savored the look of astonishment when he came up for a gasping breath. He knew he was blushing but he didn't care. He felt triumphant.

Greed reached up and caught his head bringing it back down for another kiss. This time it was mutual, each of them putting their all into it. Greed's mouth was forceful and rough, but Archer gave as much as he got. There would be hickies from this, on Archer's face no less, where nothing short of make up would hide them, but the wounds were worth it.

Archer hated pain. He hated the way it made him weak, made him worry. He hated it and feared it and yet it attracted him. There was an incredible pleasureable rush to meeting agony face on, taking it, owning it. He never felt more like a man then when his body screamed for mercy, and he refused to give in.

They were fighting now, sparring with their hands and mouths and it hurt, but it felt great. Archer attacked the red lines and nodes on Greed's shoulders, letting the faint battery-like tingle guide his wanton tongue over the round curve of hard muscle. Greed groaned in pleasure before capturing Archer's buttocks and squeezing them, kneading them, driving Archer's groin harder against his jutting cock.

There was pain. An inadvertent scratch across his hip from a too eager claw. . There were bruises on his arms, on his hips from too tight grips. Greed didn't always hold back his strength when he wanted Archer to move just so. His mouth was sore from Greed's rough kisses. Archer loved it. The adrenaline, the fear, the passion. He wouldn't have respected Greed as much if the Sin had been gentle. He was grateful, Greed didn't insult his masculinity by treating him like woman.

There was never a question of winning. Any victory on this playing field was completely at Greed's indulgent whim, but the homunculus was in no hurry to go for the kill. For a while he let Archer move, kiss, nuzzle, suck, but the moment his need overwhelmed his patience, he snatched that control back. The tide of battle turned in a single moment, as Greed gripped his upper arms, and brought all movement to a halt.

Keeping Archer imprisoned with a single impossibly strong hand, Greed reached out and snagged the lube from the table. In a quick, practiced movement, the Sin popped the top off the bottle. His grip loosened, and obediently Archer held out a hand to receive the slippery fluid.

The Sin gave Archer only a moment to prepare himself before grabbing his hips and lifting him up and into position. Archer couldn't resist the temptation to test Greed's hold and somehow alter the pace of his inexorably impaling. He wasn't surprised to find no give whatsoever. Archer's thighs trembled a little under the strain before relaxing and letting the inevitable happen. Flesh protested, but stretched to accommodate, and he took Greed all the way in one slow stroke. Archer allowed himself a deep breath once the Sin was completely in.

"Fuck me," ordered Greed. "Hard as you can."

Archer's groin hardened impossibly at the command. Greed's grip loosened again and Archer complied, lifting himself as high as he could and slamming himself down again, using both muscle and weight to make the stroke more forceful. And it hurt, but by God it was a good hurt, a clean hurt. He hissed and repeated, moving as fast as he could make his reluctant muscles cooperate. Taking himself right to the edge of what his mind and body could handle. It was pure decadent masochism, and it made him feel good that he could do this to himself and not cry out. He felt strong, masculine, proud his ability to master his own fears and overcome his own discomfort. He stared defiantly into Greeds eyes and saw raw hedonistic appreciation.

With lube slickened hands he reached down and pressed his palms into the hollows of Greed's shoulders. In part it was to give him more leverage to lift even higher, and ride Greed's cock harder, in part it was to keep his enthusiasm from overwhelming his balance. It wasn't entirely intentional that his thumbs found the red nodes, but once there he took full advantage of it. Archer wasn't sure what their significance was, but he did know that pressure on them drove Greed wild.

Sure enough Greed came to life as Archer pressed and stroked the nodes. The Sin bucked his hips, and grabbed Archer's waist and took the ride to another level. Archer gritted his teeth. This was agony. His cock couldn't stand the neglect, his balls were so full they ached. As Greed slammed again, his hands tightened and pulled, forcing Archer to twist and grind against the base of his cock.

As much as this turned Archer on, it wasn't enough to make him come. It frustrated him, and he saw it as a failing that he could get so close but not quite reach orgasm this way.

Greed's had no such difficulty. His orgasm was marked by a growl. Then Archer was lifted up and off. A moment later Greed rolled him onto his back and began stroking his body in an almost apologetic way.

Archer's legs still shaking and rubbery from hard work, his cock still erect and unsatisfied. He tightened up as hard as he could to prevent the inevitable fluids from wetting the sheets, and fought the urge to roll away and head immediately to the bathroom to get clean. His fear of soiling himself almost overwhelmed his need for completion.

Greed chuckled indulgently, then pinned him down and took Archer's cock into his mouth. The aches and sharp pains mixed with the delicate warmth and suction. How many years of practice had the sin had? Centuries, and he lavished it on Archer. A silent fight ensued. Archer resisted orgasm, he fought it the way he'd fought the earlier pain, but there was no backing down. He could stand the bruises and rips, but he had no defense against Greed at his most gentle. There was no denying what Greed wanted. Archer surrendered to orgasm, as silent in pleasure as he was in pain, allowing his face to twist briefly as the sexual tension snapped within him. Then he collapsed completely. He was done in.

When Archer returned, still damp from the shower, with a towel tucked around his hips, Greed was studying the notes. "I think I like the four-star treatment," The Sin said without looking up. "You were very passionate today."

"I'll be happy to give you more of that," said Archer, emboldened by Greed's good mood. "But I want some concessions."

"Such as what? The condoms?" asked Greed putting down the notes. "I'm not going to give you a disease, Frank. It won't happen. I've been fucking people for hundreds of years, people with diseases at times, and I've never once passed it on. As for the mess, sheets can be changed, and the shower is just 10 steps away. I don't like anything coming between us, not even a thin piece of latex. Argue all night long, but I'm not going to yield to this."

Archer sighed. He could give on that issue. "Never mind the condoms, I'm more worried about my life. It isn't safe meeting like this. Not for me. One of these days, someone in the military is going to take a long hard look at my activities and they aren't going to like what they find."

Greed straightened up. "Are you saying you don't want to meet with me anymore?"

"No," said Archer firmly. "No."

"Then what concessions do you want? What would make you feel safe?"

"As much as it hurts my pride to admit it, no one who knows my past is going to buy that can find a date for every day of week. I'm not that—good with women. Never have been." Archer waited until Greed nodded. "Pick one girl to be my date. People can buy that. And make sure she showers before I pick her up," Archer hastily added.

"That's doable," said Greed.

"And please, no love motels. I have better taste than that."

"I believe I've already agreed to that," said Greed. "Anything else?"

"Trust me," said Archer in his most sincere tone. "I'm not going to sell you out. I don't need to be tricked into telling the truth. You don't need to sex the information out of me. I'm yours of my own free will."

Greed hesitated, but then smiled. "So, business then pleasure. Boring. But I can do it."

"Thank you," said Archer. He sat down on the bed, weak with relief.

"Mine of your own free will," repeated Greed, reaching out a hand to stroke Archer's damp shoulder. "I like that."

Archer nodded. All his resentments faded away. A small adjustment here and there, and spying for Greed was not so frightening a prospect after all. And the rewards were undeniable. Greed would take him far, he was sure of it. Yes, he'd made his choice, and a damn fine one it turned out to be.