velvet mace

Coming Home

Havoc's mind was always clearest first thing in the morning. For a few minutes before the chimeras came he could actually think of his predicament. He'd look for a way out of his bedroom. The window had bars on it, to discourage burglars, Greed claimed, but Havoc knew better. The door was locked. No explanation for that was ever given.

"This will feel like home, soon," Greed said when he woke the first time in this bed. Havoc was confused. He remembered walking into the bar and pouring his soul out to the man. He remembered being angry and hopeless. He remembered agreeing to follow this man he'd only just met. In the sober light of morning, he couldn't fathom why he'd done ANY of those things.

Morning again, six days later, he still didn't know. Havoc slid quietly from the bed. He was still a bit foggy from whatever they gave him. The world had a glassy quality that never completely faded. It felt as though things were just a bit farther away than they should be. Nothing was quite real.

He wanted a cigarette something bad, but he knew he'd be lucky if they even gave him enough to eat. Withdrawal and hunger pangs only made it harder to think. Perhaps that was the point.

Havoc tottered to his feet and paused to steady himself. Not only was his sense of balance was off, but he also felt the lingering soreness from the night before. Havoc shuddered.

"It will get better," the chimera called Dorchette told him, after the first time when all he could do clutch the soiled sheets and curse, and even the drugs didn't dull the pain, "eventually he'll be satiated. He'll visit less often. You may even come to miss his attention." His voice was wistful.

Havoc couldn't imagine ever wanting to be touched by Greed. He wasn't attracted to men. Greed knew that. It didn't matter to Greed. Worse, it didn't even matter to Havoc when he was high. Now that the shock was over, he didn't even try to fight anymore. He just lay still and let Greed do what he wanted, for however long he wanted. Sometimes he even liked it. Sometimes he'd even cum, with the endless sound of Greed's recorded voice beating at his ear.

It was only in the quiet of the morning that he felt dirty.

"Things will go better," said the one called Martel, "Soon. Once you learn how things work around here, you'll be happy."

Then she went back to her job of putting fresh batteries in the cassette player behind the grill. She turned the volume up as far as it would go, and let the lesson play out over and over again on its endless loop. Greed's baritone reverberated in Havoc's chest speaking words he knew by heart. Trust Greed. Obey Greed. Stay with Greed. Greed would protect him from the outside world. Greed would bring him peace. Greed was the only path to love.

Havoc hated this room. He hated the cassette player. He hated the boredom. Twice they'd allowed him to fold laundry, and the chore had felt like heaven compared to the spartan room and the endlessly looped recording. He had tried fighting them. He had tried reasoning with them. He'd even tried begging, but the chimeras just smiled at him with knowing eyes, and did what Greed told them.

"Just relax," said Law as he held Havoc's arm pinned, while the Tucker readied the needle. "You need your medicine for now. But you'll be better soon."

Havoc looked down at his arm. There were six pricks now. One for each morning of his captivity. The military knew he was gone, of course. But if they were coming for him, it wasn't to his rescue. The first day Greed had typed out a letter and had him sign it. The shot had kicked in and he could hardly hold the pen straight.

"You want to live with me," Greed said. "They don't love you the way I do. They won't take care of you. They treat you badly. I will always treat you well."

Greeds words had rung through his head like a bell. He'd signed his name because at that moment he believed Greed. The moment he lifted the pen from the paper, Dorchette had whisked the page away to mail it. Later when the drug began to wear off, he cursed himself and pounded his fists futiley against the wall.

No, there would be no rescue, merely a note on his record that he'd gone AWOL. Perhaps even a dishonorable discharge. If he crossed paths with the military again, it would be at his own risk.

Havoc tottered back on his heels, then sat heavily down on the bed. Even though he'd slept for 10 or maybe 12 hours, he still felt exhausted. There were no clocks in Havoc's room, but judging by the angle of the light across his wall, he had only a few minutes to figure a way out of this situation before the cycle repeated.

If only he were an alchemist, there were so many things he could make an alchemy circle with. If he could blast a hole through the wall, he'd have a chance.

No. This line of thought was a waste of time. He wasn't an alchemist, and even if he were, he doubted his mind would be up to performing. What he needed was a more concrete workable plan. Something that would have a chance, even though he was drugged, hungry and distracted.

I could give them what they want. Not for real. But I could pretend.

Havoc's breathing hitched in and then held. For a moment he was stunned by the idea. If they thought they had won they wouldn't drug him any more. They wouldn't lock his door. They would have no reason to withold his food or cigarettes. He could walk right out of the place and go back to Central and maybe, if he was lucky, plead for his job back. Greed's people couldn't read his mind. They wouldn't know he was faking. Havoc had acted in plays before. This wouldn't even be that hard a role to play.

Havoc smiled and felt relief.

When Law and Tucker came a few minutes later, he held out his arm and didn't resist. The needle stung, and the drugs made Havoc's mind foggy, but that was ok. He's seen it in their eyes; they had started to trust him.

When Martel replaced the batteries again, Havoc didn't try to stop her. He didn't beg, or curse, or scream. When Greed's voice once again echoed in the room, Havoc spoke the words in time with the recording. It made his mind woozy but he didn't care, because Martel smiled approvingly. She really believed he'd given in.

When Greed came that afternoon, Havoc undressed without prompting. He didn't kick or try to run. Instead he moved his hips in time with Greed's thrusts actively sought his pleasure. The sex left him confused, but he didn't mind because Greed had crooned over him and promised him work outside the walls of his compound.

Freedom never seemed so close.

The days began to pass quickly. When they weaned him off the drugs, he found to his dismay that he kind of missed the calmness they gave him. Havoc didn't mind as much when the cassette player was allowed to go silent. He discovered that he could still hear the words, repeating reassuringly in his head. Some days Greed was too busy to even speak with him, and Havoc felt lonely and worried if he'd done something wrong.

But it was worth it. They trusted him completely. When he walked out of the compound, the others waved good-bye, convinced that he'd be coming back.

Three weeks later Havoc debarked the train and took a deep breath of fresh open air. He'd found the people he needed to help him, and he was almost to the point where he could rest. It felt good to be back home. His uniform fit loosely, and the cigarette in his hand felt awkward, but neither Edward nor his brother seemed to notice. They were just glad to see him alive and in one piece.

"They said you'd gone AWOL but we didn't believe it," said Ed, following him down the long concrete concourse.

Havoc smiled weakly. "I'm glad," he said. "It's hard having people think I'd deliberately walk away from my responsibilities like that." For a moment he felt a stirring of shame, but he pushed it aside.

He followed the familiar route away from the station. "Still you know," Havoc continued. "Greed was right. The military never did treat me that well." He felt an angry burn begin to grow in his chest. "Mustang in particular. I gave that man my utter loyalty, and what did he ever give back to me? Officially he assigned me to dangerous missions with no particular acknowledgement. Unofficially, he stole my girlfriends. He was a jerk. To be honest, even if they'd have me back, I'm not sure I'd want to be in the military again."

Ed nodded. "I hear you. If there were ANY other way of getting our bodies back, I'd dump the military myself. I have no particular desire to be a dog."

"Then you aren't here in a military capacity," Havoc asked, because he had to. "You are coming with me out of friendship?"

"The military doesn't even know where we are. I haven't checked in with them in months." Ed snorted. "I might as well be AWOL myself. No, I'm doing this because I WANT to," said Ed. "It burns me to think that anyone would kidnap you like that."

Havoc smiled. "They may have kidnapped me, but it wasn't that bad. In their own way, they cared about me."

Alphonse chimed in, "I'm just glad they didn't hurt you."

"Don't worry," said Ed. "We'll talk to this Greed for you. When we are through, You'll never have to worry about him again."

They were ambushed as they walked down a narrow alleyway not too far from the station. Havoc couldn't help but flinch when he felt Greed grab his shoulder and pull him backwards. There was something pleasurable about feeling the humunculus' touch, even if it did come with a blade pressed close to his throat. His mind flashed back over more sensual moments. Havoc hissed in a breath and held still.

For a moment it looked like Ed and Al would fight, but the knife at Havoc's throat held them frozen. Havoc watched mutely as Ed raised his hands in surrender and Al allowed chains to be fastened around his metal arms. Greed lowered the knife as both alchemists were lead off to the waiting van.

"I missed you, Jean," he breathed in Havoc's ear. "And thank you for the present. These two will be a great addition to the cause."

The room felt nostalgic this time around. Havoc looked up at the metal grill and the cassette player, the barred window, the blank walls. He couldn't help but feel somewhat comforted.

When the door opened and Law and Tucker appeared with the syringe, Havoc breathed deeply and relaxed. He missed the old drug induced stupor.

"What have you done with Al," Ed yelled from the bed. Havoc glanced in his direction. The young alchemist looked a bit pathetic without his automail, but he was still plenty feisty. It would probably take a long time for Greed's message to wear through.

"Al's just fine," Law said. "Greed will take good care of him, just like he will with you. You don't need to worry. He will help you on your quest. After all, Greed would like the Philosopher's stone, too."

Ed just stared with horror as Law held his flesh arm still. Tucker swabbed the skin and then pressed the needle in. Then Ed looked up at Havoc. "Please, wake up, Havoc. Help!"

Havoc smiled a knowing smile, then turned back to his job. He finished putting the fresh batteries in the cassette player. He made sure the volume all the way up and pressed the play button. Greed's voice drowned out the swearing behind him.

He was home.