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Interconnected


When he looks at Edward, he sees three things at once—a child in his arms, at once an annoyance and the beloved product of his wife's womb. He sees a Candidate for Human Sacrifice, as demanded for his ultimate goal. And he sees himself: younger, more impulsive, exotic and intoxicating in his intensity.

Edward needs pushing. Hohenhiem wants to push him with his own two hands—to touch.

Hohenhiem has never been very good at denying himself what he wants.

He enters the boy's room silently.

*

After hearing what he heard, Edward creeps back up the stairs and flops into his bed to stare at the ceiling. His mind whirls. If he didn't resurrect his mother, than that means that human transmutation is an utter failure on the whole. What does that mean? What about Al? What about—Mom? He swallows back fear against a constricted throat.

That's when he hears footsteps.

Edward's mind is still racing, but he pretends to sleep. He's pretty good at it even though he knows all his practice is probably wasted on Alphonse. He hears his father discard his shoes, and thinks that whisper of cloth is his jacket.

He evens out his breathing and forces his body to relax, the furrow between his brows smoothing out. Go away, he thinks fiercely, but it doesn't have any effect, of course. Only Al seems to know when his mood is not to be tampered with, even when he's faking sleep.

The footsteps stop by his bed. Ed feels as if a presence of death is looming behind him, and it's an effort not to still like a cornered animal.

"I know you're awake, Edward." His voice rumbles. Ed resents even his voice, and pretends not to hear him. "Edward." Ed makes no reply, except to shift a little on the bed.

Fingers close over his mouth, pressing and digging into his jaw, and Ed's eyes jerk open, his back arching in surprise as if he's been poked with an electrical prod. "Edward. Is that any way to treat your father?" Hohenhiem has the gall to look confused and disappointed.

Ed's metal fist shoots outwards to slam into Hohenhiem's jaw. Hohenhiem catches it, and Ed hears bones crack, but his father seems unperturbed. The hand around his fist tightens. "Stop that."

You're no father of mine, you fucking bastard! Ed wants to say, but his teeth are forced open by the fingers digging against his jaw and he knows he broke Hohenhiem's hand, but there's no sign his father's even noticed. He squirms, trying to get away from the pressure on his mouth.

"Stop," Hohenhiem says almost absently. "You were eavesdropping, weren't you?" he asks, his grip on Edward's metal fist shifting to his wrist, wrestling it down to the sheets with inhuman strength. "You know the truth, then, about how pointless your attempt really was?"

Ed's eyes widen, and he sucks a breath in through Hohenhiem's thick hand. He tries to bite down, twisting his metal arm furiously, but his father's grip won't be broken. Edward can't believe it, but Hohenhiem's hand doesn't seem to be broken in the least.

Hohenhiem responds with a soft sigh, and he puts up on knee on the bed, pinning Edward's flesh hand down. "I can only be grateful that Trisha wasn't subjected to that existence."

Bastard, bastard, bastard! Ed's scream of rage is muffled to a moan. How dare he talk about their mother that way, as if he was there, caring for her—! His hands are pinned, but he's learned how to fight without them. He swings both legs up in proof of his flexibility, rolling his hips and lower back off the bed to slam his shins into his father's shoulder.

There is a scuffle. Hohenhiem takes the blow with a released breath and shoves Edward further into the mattress, which squeaks in protest. Edward draws his legs up to shove his heels into Hohenhiem's chest, but his old man is too fast for him, swinging his other leg up onto the bed and over Edward's chest, sitting on him summarily. Edward lets out another enraged sound and bucks his hips up, but Hohenhiem is heavy and refuses to be moved.

"Be still," he says commandingly, and Edward snarls at him. Hohenhiem's fingers dig into the muscles of his jaw until it hurts. He says, "Edward," and now his tone is more reconciliatory. "Edward, stop struggling."

It's futile to keep fighting him. Ed flattens himself to the bed and glares. Hohenhiem's grip on his mouth eases, and falls away when Edward makes no aggression. He moves it to Edward's neck, in a stroking motion.

"Get off me, you son of a bitch," he hisses. His jaw aches.

"Listen to yourself," says Hohenhiem. "Which is worse, a bastard child or a sinner?"

"You have no right," Ed starts, his voice ragged with hate.

"You are my son."

"I'm no son of yours! You're just the fucking sperm donor!"

For a moment Hohenhiem's face is completely blank. "Hm," he says, and Edward cringes back as his father's expression shifts, slightly. "I see."

His weight shifts back, onto Ed's thighs, sitting on his groin.

"Alchemy." Hohenhiem reaches across with his free hand, brushing Edward's chin, and slips his fingers into the socket of Edward's mechanical arm. "Do you think your mother had any skill? Your innate talent comes from this donor."

Edward spasms upwards in horror, jerking his flesh hand back to escape Hohenhiem's knee, but it's too late. His automail detaches with an almost inaudible hiss of hydraulics.

"What are you doing?" he demands, tension-filled.

Hohenhiem lifts the lifeless arm by the wrist and flings it back on the bed, out of Edward's sight.

"What are you doing!?" Edward's voice rises, and his father's hand comes back down on his mouth. He shifts, lifting his hips just high enough that he's no longer sitting on Edward, but Edward can't squirm out from under him. The hand that was holding Edward's automail wrist down splays over his stomach.

"Stay still," he commands, his voice dark and husky. But Edward is startled when the hand on his mouth rises long enough for Hohenhiem to grab his arm and left hip and flip him onto his stomach. Ed flails, to no avail, and Hohenhiem sits on his thighs. The palm of one hand slams into the back of Edward's neck, pinning him down into the pillow.

"Five years in this body," his father observes. His tone is impassive with a current of intention. "And still, no progress on returning to normal?"

Edward screams his frustration into the pillow and tries to lever himself up on his one hand. Hohenhiem bears his full weight down on Ed's neck until Edward relaxes, panting from effort. He's not heavy enough or strong enough to throw his father off from this position.

"Edward." His father bends down over him, so much taller, his mouth near his ear. "Edward, Edward, my failure of a son." His fingers trail over Edward's automail port. Edward trembles, jerking his body to the side. "You have such talent and waste it. So much to learn." His body presses down on Edward's back. Something firm nestles against Edward's thigh, brushing his buttock.

No! Edward's eyes go wide with horror, and he bucks, scrambling to push Hohenhiem off himself. No nononono!

Hohenhiem rests his forearm across the small of Edward's back and rides him out until Ed collapses again, breathing in lint and his own spit from the pillow. His heart pounds in his chest as if trying to escape his body.

His father rises off him just enough that Edward can't feel that offending length against his backside, and then he whimpers in terror when fingers scrape under the elastic of his boxers. They're being pulled down. Edward grasps at them desperately with his hand, but Hohenhiem yanks them past his fingers until they're around his knees.

Ed twists his head, fighting the hand on his neck, and manages to free his mouth from his choking pillow. "Father," he says in a panic, his voice spiraling up. "Father, stop it—!"

Hohenhiem settles over him again, buttons digging into Edward's back through his tank top, zipper cold on his buttocks, something hard restrained behind it. "What father?" he asks, his breath tickling Edward's ear. "I thought I was just a sperm donor."

Edward can't breathe for a moment, sick as his words are thrown back at him. It's long enough. The hand on his neck gives way to a large forearm, and he hears hands clapping together, pressing into the sheets. Instantly they change; writhing ropelike coils wrap around the back of his neck, his torso, his arm and legs, pinning him. The bondage scares Ed almost witless, outweighing an accompanying surge of hatred. He tries to form words, but he's speechless, his mouth working.

"Shush, Edward." His father's lips are brushing the shell of his ear now—gentle with the threat of pain. "You wouldn't want Pinako to hear you now, would you?" To enforce this, his hand fists in Edward's hair, yanking it around until the pillow muffles his mouth again.

The weight on his back lifts, and he feels the mattress shift; out of the corner of his eye he sees his father getting off the bed. The hand in his hair falls away. "I'll be right back," he says, composed as ever, adjusting his shirt and tugging at his cuffs. Then he's walking out the door.

Edward watches the door for a long moment, panting into the damp pillow and unable to think, and then he tears his mind away from his blind terror. He doesn't dare scream: what could Pinako do against this monster? An array, I need an array, he thinks, yanking futilely at the bonds holding him down. Strangely his mind flashes over the discovery that his father can do the same alchemy as himself, as his brother, as his teacher, and he pushes the thought aside, leaving it for later. What can I draw an array with!?

Scrabbling his fingers in the sheets, he can't find anything. He kicks as much as he can in a fit of frustration, and his flesh foot bumps something hard. My arm! Maybe I can drag it up—! He works his foot around. His toes can hook around the back of his discarded metal hand. Painstakingly, sweating, Edward tries to draw up his knees, to pull the automail closer to himself. He can't move more than a few inches.

Dammit! His fear notching upwards, he arches his back and yanks at the bonds over his wrist again. Maybe, if he—he cups his hand, trying to pass his knuckles through, wriggling. His heart is pounding with urgency. He gets his thumb knuckle past; a surge of elation makes him work more furiously.

The sound of the squeaking floorboard at his door causes him to lift his eyes.

Hohenhiem stands in the doorway, a cup in his hand. Edward freezes, watching him like a frightened rabbit watches a fox. All he can hear is the pounding of his heart, a drum in his ears. Hohenhiem's head tilts a little, and then he crosses the room, putting down the cup on the nightstand. He swipes a finger across Ed's forehead. "You're sweating," he observes, and he reaches across Edward, his fingers settling on Edward's escaping wrist. "I see you've been working hard."

Ed swallows, certain something horrible is coming. Hohenhiem's other hand just barely touches his jaw, almost a caress but in practice only a mockery of one. "By now," he says, "you should know a perfect transmutation when you see one."

He's unknowingly echoing Tucker's words. Ed flinches, but Hohenhiem just narrows his eyes. He puts up a knee on the bed—Ed can just see it out of the corner of his eye, and he feels the bed shift—and he swings himself up, planting his other knee between Edward's legs. Ed fancies he can feel his body heat coming off him.

"Your brother," Hohenhiem says softly, and Edward hears something like mocking in his neutral voice. "He sacrificed his whole body for your harebrained scheme, didn't he?"

Fuck, it's my fault! I'll fix it for him. I promise, Al, I promise—- Rage and guilt war inside Edward, rage that his father would dare to bring that up, and the knowledge that he is right searing him. He squeezes his eyes shut in protest, and the hand trapping his wrist lifts, as does the one on his jaw. Again there is a soft clap, hands in the bedsheets, and the bonds holding his torso and thighs down slither away like dry, warm snakes. Others, however, tighten—such as the one on his wrist, binding it down with such force that peripherally, Ed wonders if he'll lose circulation.

Hohenhiem wraps one arm around Edward's torso and pulls him up so his butt is in the air, his legs nudged further apart, until Ed feels hopelessly and intolerably exposed. He wrestles with his bonds out of frustration, well aware they won't give. A perfect transmutation—if I only had my arm—!

He's startled from his thoughts and creeping mind-numbing fear by an arm squeezing his torso insistently. "That body your brother is left with," Hohenhiem says. Ed can feel that offending hardness against him again, and he resists the urge to try to scramble away. It's useless. "It's particularly easy to destroy him, isn't it?"

Ed's world stops.

He freezes, his eyes gone wide. He struggles to turn his head enough to stare with one eye at his father in terror, his mouth half-freed.

"You can't!" Ed's voice cracks. "That's—he's—Al is your son as m—m-more than I am!" His throat constricts until he cannot breathe. An illogical fear that Hohenhiem could just raise a finger to destroy his brother and destroy Ed grips him, squeezing his heart to the point of bursting.

His father reaches past him, almost seeming to ignore him, to dip his fingers in the cup he returned with. "More than?" he asks, his tone bored. His fingers emerge dripping with something slimy and nearly clear, and then he falls back again, making the bed squeak. Ed thought he couldn't tense up any more, but he discovers he was wrong, his fingers clenching, his toes curling, every muscle in his body contracting until he feels like nothing more than a ball of fraying nerves. He fights by squirming and wriggling when fingers spread his buttocks, and wet digits press against his sphincter.

Ed's face goes even paler, and he bucks away, a startled shout on his lips. His father's arm tightens around his torso again on the verge of bruising, holding him fast. "Father, stop—!"

Hohenhiem glances up at him with eyes of fire, and he shoves his fingers forward, no longer suffering him any semblance of gentleness. Edward suppresses a scream of pain and horror by biting into his lower lip and squeezing his eyes shut. "Nnngh!"

"You can't have it both ways, Edward," his father says, and shoves the wet fingers up further. The oily stuff, whatever he found or made, helps a little, but it will be a long time before Edward's backside forgets the pain of that first intrusion. His insides burn, his abused ring of muscle contracts. "I don't wish to destroy him, that's true," he continues, his fingers moving in and out in jerky, sharp motions. Edward squirms, but the arm around his waist allows almost nothing. "But it depends entirely on you."

Edward practices breathing through his nose, nostrils flaring and his eyes squeezed shut. Sweat breaks out on his forehead. "What—what do you want me to do?" he asks, trying not to let his voice shake—not from pain, but from nausea. His father wields Al's safety like a bludgeon in his face, but this is a familiar fear, one that grips him in his dreams. He'll do anything for Al. He'll take anything for him.

"I'll tell you," Hohenhiem answers, "When I want it." He watches Edward's face, curling his fingers, and Ed trembles like a taut bowstring stretched to its breaking point. "But for now, you can stop fighting me."

Edward can do that. It's almost too much, but he bites down his pride physically, teeth grinding into his tongue, and forces his hips to stillness in compliance. This is nothing, he tells himself. The fingers jabbing into his insides force him to the knowledge that it's a very large, painful Something, and he bites his tongue harder, drawing blood and swallowing a whimper.

He can't help his shaking sigh when those fingers are finally dragged free of him. Ed relishes the moment of respite despite himself, dragging in each breath as if he's run for miles. His ass burns, a throbbing, intimate pain. "No more," he whispers into the pillow. "Please, no more." But he knows there's more. He can take it. He can do it for Al. His father is shifting behind him, moving on the bed, and he hears a zipper and the rustling of cloth.

It's naked, firm heat that presses against his bottom this time, as his father leans forward to retrieve the cup. Ed recoils in reaction, and his father pauses, jerking Edward back against himself with the hand around his middle, until Edward stills and allows his father's hot length to nestle between his buttocks. He trembles, face burning with the humiliation of it, but holds his peace. I can do this.

Hohenhiem finally releases him and settles back; the hand around his middle slides away, caressing his hip with a rough touch before disappearing. Edward strains to see what's happening, but his own back blocks his view.

"Tell me about your brother. I never really knew him." His father doesn't look up from what he's doing.

What resolve Ed had achieved crumbles at these words. Edward suddenly wants to cry, but he can't seem to find any tears. A sick horror sweeps through him at the thought—no; he can't even think it. "You could have known him," he says, voice breaking. "You could have if you'd just stayed—!"

"Tell me about him," Hohenhiem repeats more forcefully. Ed swallows back further protest, twisting his face away. A sensation of ugliness descends on him, a crushing self-disgust. Isn't this too far? Yet—for Al's sake—

Ed loathes the sound of his own voice as he forces himself to speak, trying to imagine he's telling this to someone else in a bright, sunny room without the smell of sweat and sex. "H-he's—he's kind, and sweet, and so talented. He's so much l-like—like Mom." Ed's throat constricts, and the failed illusion crumbles. "Fa—I can't do this. I can't—"

That hard, hot length, slippery now, interrupts him, lining up with its intended entrance. "Keep talking."

"I can't!" It's all Edward can do just to hold still by then, wanting to punch that fucking bastard until he's unrecognizable and begging for mercy, wanting to flee. He feels sick. He's going to throw up, sick with himself and sick of everything.

"Ah, already disobeying," Hohenhiem accuses. He sounds like Envy. Large, soft hands grasp Edward's hips, digging into the depression over his bones.

Ed moans into his pillow, a cry of misery. "He's d-diplomatic, and—" his breath is stolen by a harder thrust that takes his father into himself. White-hot pain sears him, and when he recovers, he can't make his voice work. I'm not fucking strong enough for this, he thinks. I can't do it!

"Does he really still exist?" his father accuses breathlessly, as he sinks as deeply as he can into Edward and holds him there. It's easier with the oily stuff, now that he's breached his son. He thrusts his hips into Edward's backside. Edward arches his back sharply, and his fingernails dig crescents of blood into the heel of his hand. "Isn't he just a collection of your own impressions?"

No, he's not—he can't be, Ed thinks, clinging to that thought desperately, like a lifeline in a storm. It makes sense now, if his father—but the thought shatters as he bites back an agonized cry. The hurt from the thrust fades, and his father grunts. It's a satisfied sound. Ed's throat closes until he almost can't breathe, taking in air in shallow gulps.

"Answer me, Edward," Hohenhiem commands. His voice is rough now, as rough as his thrusts, which are not slow or gentle. They command Ed's attention. He sighs softly as he pulls out partway, and makes a sound between a hiss and a grunt as he thrusts in. He holds himself there for moment each time, as if striving to find some inner depth he cannot reach.

Mom, he did this to Mom. A sound tears itself out of Edward, one of anger and despair. "No," he moans, "No!" And he's not sure if it's in protest or an answer as to Al's fate.

"No," his father repeats, and Ed can hear the smirking laugh in it, even if he can't see it. "Then what kind of life is it? Unable to feel." His fingers dig into Ed's hipbones as if to crush them into submission. "Unable to sleep." His punctuating thrust is so hard Ed rocks forward on the bed.

Ed's beyond self-control now. "Shut up," he gasps. "Shut up shut up shut up—!" His face is screwed up with agony both physical and mental. His bangs are plastered across his face by sweat.

Hohenhiem grunts. It's a sound of lust, and Ed swallows back bile as his stomach rebels. He buries himself, deeply, and leans over Edward, his hard stomach laying across Ed's back. "You run from your sins," he whispers in Ed's ear. "You cannot run from this one, boy."

Edward is struck speechless with self-hate.

He slams into Edward twice more before he shudders and moans aloud. "Edward—!"

For an instant, Edward hates even his own name.

It's a long moment his father holds there, panting in Ed's ear. Then he slowly draws back and out of Edward. The muscles there ache, and his nerves tingle angrily. Ed hears cloth and a zipper again, dimly, against roaring blood in his ears. He's numb, and sick with loathing; any energy that might have been left in him has been leeched from his body.

"When I release you," his father says softly as he rises off the bed, "You will not touch me, and you will not tell anyone." Edward closes his eyes against the image of his father smoothing his shirt, and the wet spot on the front of his nice slacks.

Who would I tell, Edward wonders. Al? Winly? Would I do that to anyone? He only nods. He'd have to find his arm first to punch his father anyway. Nothing short of metal to the face would express his hatred properly.

Hohenhiem claps his hands together, and the coils holding Ed down fall away. "Pull your pants up," he advises, and then his footsteps fade from the room. Edward keeps his eyes closed until he's gone.

Even for Al's sake, Ed thinks in agony, this sin might be too much.