Consent and Consequences

chapter 1.
part 0 of The Unforgiveness Arc


Ed's whole upper body twisted as Greeson slammed the butt of his pistol into Ed's cheek. He panted for breath, grimacing, and spit out blood and something hard. A molar. Doing okay, he thought, his head spinning. Losing only one tooth in three years—

Greeson's fingers closed on Ed's jaw and yanked him back upright. "You think you can beat the shit out of anyone you want to, prick?"

"Like y'don't do the same," Ed answered, words slurring together.

Greeson pistol-whipped him again. "Do I have to remind you what you're in here for, Elric?" he sneered as Edward spit out more blood on the floor, breathing harshly. "If anyone in this building ought to be regularly beaten, it's you."

The door to the interrogation room banged open, and Ed lifted his head to see Mason, holding a sheaf of papers in his hand. He slapped the folder down on the table in front of the chair Ed had been lashed to. "Well, Elric, congratulations," Mason snarled, half-sitting on the table with his arms crossed in front of him. "You rendered a man impotent today."

Ed felt a flash of dark satisfaction. He thought, for a fleeting instant, that he ought to feel some kind of guilt—but he couldn't muster any. "There isn't anyone in the world who will regret that," he pointed out in a low voice.

The look Mason gave him was pure venom. "There isn't anyone in the world who would be sorry to see you dead, Elric, but that doesn't mean I can kill you. Take my point!?"

It gave Ed a little stab of ... something ... at the thought that nobody would regret his death. Winly would care. Al, of course, wouldn't know to care. Mustang might actually be glad, he thought. It'd sure save him some effort—if he was even thinking about keeping his promise still. Any sane man would leave me to rot at this point.

Ed did his best to hide all this behind a mask of indifference, not even his mouth twitching as he looked up at Mason. "This isn't about that prick's balls, is it?" he asked slowly.

"Very good, Elric. I expect you'll want a reward for that," Greeson snickered, seating himself across from Ed with a flourish. He lit a cigarette. Ed glared at him until Mason grabbed his jaw and forced Ed to look up at him.

Mason leaned in so close that Ed could smell the mashed potatoes he'd had for lunch. "This is about the guard who's going without pay for a week because of you. This is because of the unprovoked fight you caused. And this is about the two days that we're missing your quota."

Ed stared at him incredulously and bit back a furious response. "Y—! I—... I was in the infirmary," he managed, voice tight.

"Oh, poor baby Elric," Greeson waved his cigarette in the air. "Sick after his first time!"

Edward couldn't hide the horror that flashed across his face as his eyes darted back to the guard.

"What, you didn't like the abuse? That's what happens when you pick a rapist to sleep with, Elric." Greeson leaned forward and breathed smoke in Ed's face. "You get abused."

Ed coughed, and Mason let go of Ed's face with a little shove, waving his hand in front of his nose. "Get that shit out of my face, Greeson," he said irritably.

Greeson raised an eyebrow. "This shit?" He held up the cigarette. "Yes, sir." He stood up and wandered past Ed, out of his line of vision. Ed cleared his throat, trying to scrub the blood off his chin with his bare shoulder.

Something white-hot pressed into his back between his shoulder blades. For a moment Ed couldn't identify what made him suddenly jerk up from his slouch and arch his back, and then the pain solidified, a burning, acrid sensation and smell. "Augh!"


"What? I couldn't find an ashtray, so I used the closest thing to it."

Ed grit his teeth, trying not to shake as he slowly, slowly slouched again in his chair. The pain settled into a throbbing point between his shoulder blades. He looked up to see Mason obviously working to suppress a smirk. "Greeson, that's out of line."

"Yes, sir." Ed could hear the sneer in his voice.

"Well, Elric." Mason's focus went back to Edward. "We let you get away with a lot, since you hardly ever start fights, but an unprovoked attack on your bunkmate? Don't expect special treatment: that's a day in solitary. And you missed labor for two days. That's five lashes per day."

Ed's teeth clicked together. "Mister Mason, I was ... ill."

"Report says your temperature was fine, you only threw up that first morning, from a ..." Mason flipped through some papers theatrically. "Concussion. The only other injuries sustained were from a consensual sexual act between yourself and your bunkmate." He looked at Edward passively. "Doesn't say you were 'ill'. Just looks like some rough sex between a couple of animals to me."

Ed stared at him, the color draining from his face; he opened his mouth and closed it, galled. Of all the people to have to tell that there hadn't been jack shit 'consensual' about it—!

"Oh, are you gonna call rape now?" It was Greeson; his hands closed in Ed's hair and he yanked Edward's head back visciously, looking down at him. "Cute, real cute. You're like a fucking whore who decides she doesn't like it when it's not done her way."

"In any case," Mason said, raising his voice over Greeson, "no report of sexual assault was filed. There's no legitimate excuse for missing labor that I can see, Elric." He stood up. "Greeson, get him ready." He went to the door and banged it shut behind him.

Greeson came back around as Mason left the room. "Well, it's just you and me for a bit, huh?" He leaned back and lit another cigarette.

"This is bullshit and you know it," Ed shot back, infuriated, although he cringed as the cigarette was lit. "The warden out of town again? No, wait, I'll bet you want to fuck me up the ass too, you sadistic ba—!" Ed cut off as the end of the cigarette waved dangerously close to his eye, jerking back.

"Keep your tongue in your head, Elric," Greeson sneered. He got up and walked behind Ed again, and Ed braced himself in anticipation of being used as an ashtray again, but all he felt was the loosening of ropes around his ankles. "You make one move to escape, attack, or anything else—hell, you make a move, period—and we'll see how well you do at labor with one arm and one leg."

Ed nodded slightly, shaking slightly more from frustration than from any sort of fear, although he was not happily anticipating what was coming. It took Greeson about a minute to move Edward from the chair to against the wall, arms hung up separately; obviously someone remembered he could transmute by clapping his hands together. (There were days, now, when Ed forgot, so mind-numbing was his routine, so mundane his life; he hadn't been allowed to use alchemy to attack a problem for much longer than he wanted to think.)

He was startled into a shout when the sensation of burning started again, barely a centimeter below the first burn. "Ah—!" He arched away and slammed his teeth together.

The sensation faded to another point of throbbing pain. "Ah, thought I heard Mason coming," Greeson said. Ed saw his casual shrug out of the corner of his eye.

"You sick freak," Ed panted, clenching his fists. He could smell, slightly, his own burned flesh, and it turned his stomach.

Again, the cigarette butt dug into his back, and again Ed arched away as far as he could, closing his eyes and shuddering. "Excuse me? Want to repeat that again?" Greeson said irritably. Ed heard the strike of a match. "Go on. Repeat it. That's an order, Elric."

Ed grit his teeth and said nothing. He was burned. He snarled in frustration, spitting out an obscenity, and again he was burned. He tried to not react at all, and Greeson tapped his cigarette against just one point on Ed's back until he was on his toes in an effort to escape, breathing harshly through grit teeth.

Greeson finally backed off for a few minutes, until Edward had relaxed again from exhaustion. Then he approached again, boots clicking on the floor; Ed swallowed and steeled himself. "Mason should be back any minute," Greeson spoke into Ed's ear, smoke curling past Ed's nose. "I should put this out properly now."

Ed was still grinding his teeth together, his back arched away from the burning cigarette stub, when he heard the door clang open again. He twisted his head to look over his shoulder, shuddering with the effort of not making a sound.

He saw the whip Mason had with him.

"It's new," Mason smirked, holding the cat'o'nine tails up with obvious pride.

Ed turned away, bowing his head, and swallowed back a cry of pure frustration.