Hohenheim pulled free of his machine, tugging the cables from his spine and head. He felt better again, the way he always felt after he'd communed with the vat. His body was renewed, years shed, alchemical stores filled. Buzzing in the back of his head were the voices of the dead, but he had long since learned to ignore them. Useless things, they were, echoes really. No closer to being true souls than a photograph was to being a real person. Sometimes, however, he did choose to listen to their ramblings, especially when they had something interesting to say about the situation he was in.
Today he caught the murmur of love in that background music. Sad, wistful memories, of people who he'd never met, who had once pined for someone else. It suited Hohenheim's mood. He was lonely.
Though his vat contained the remains of thousands, nowhere in it was even a trace of the one person he wanted most.
"Trisha," he murmured.
He'd loved her, as much as he was capable of loving another. She had been beautiful and bright and accepting of his eccentricities. He, in turn, indulged her every way he could, giving her money, a home, tokens of affection. When she longed for children, he had done extensive alchemical experiments until he was at last able to give her some, two, both boys, in quick succession.
It had been a mistake.
"Bring him in," he said to Envy. "I wish to see my son."
Envy nodded and left the room. A few minutes later he returned pushing a hulk of armor in front of him. Hohenheim looked over the huge creature. Even though he was hard and broad and spiked, Alphonse gave off an aura of vulnerability. When the helm tilted up and Hohenheim saw the glowing sparks of his "eyes", he imagined he sensed a gentle soul, very much like the one Trisha had. Yes, even though there wasn't a trace of Trisha's body left in the child, somehow she was still there.
Hohenheim stepped down from his dais until he stood in front of his youngest. When he'd last seen the boy in flesh, he had only been a toddler. He lifted a hand and stroked the hard metal cheek. His sensitive fingers felt the pulse of power and alchemy embodied in the steel.
Alphonse let out a little meep of surprise at the touch. "Father? Why am I here? Why did you have them kidnap me?" Then, with just a bit of judgmental pride—"If you wanted to see me, why didn't you just ASK me to come? I would have."
Even Al's voice sounded just a bit like Trisha's—the same scornful inflections. Hohenheim gave a dry chuckle.
"Five years," he said. "Five years you've been in that form now."
"Yes," acknowledged Al.
"Human alchemy is forbidden for good reason, you do know that."
"Yes," Al said, bitterly. "Very well, now. We were children. We didn't know any better. There was no one—"
"To stop you, " said Hohenheim. "Yes. I wasn't a good father to you, Alphonse. Nor will I ever be, I'm afraid. I am too selfish for that. " He smiled, sadly. "You see, I admit my moral failings. I wish I could say that I am sorry that I wasn't there for you as you grew up, but the truth is, I'm not. It would have been much harder on you if I had been there."
"She missed you," said Al. "Terribly. She waited for you."
"Yes," said Hohenheim. "Your brother told me that once. But you see, I was jealous."
"Yes, jealous of two bright little children who took up so much of her time and affections. I couldn't compete. It was safer for the two of you that I let her be." Hohenheim stroked the other cheek. It was hard and cold. "It is time for me to make up for my past wrongs."
Al gasped in surprise when Hohenheim lifted his helmet completely off and dropped it, rather casually to the floor. He backed away when Hohenheim's hand reached in and stroked the blood seal. "Please don't do that," Al said.
"Does it hurt?"
Hohenheim turned to Envy. "Help me get him up to the vat."
Al struggled. Though Envy was quite strong, he found it difficult to manage the bulky armor, but with persistence the sin was able to force Al up the steps to the vat itself. Hohenheim attached the restraints to the armor. "I can't have you moving. This will take a bit of time. Not too long, but it might feel very strange to you."
Al was backed up against the vat and his headless body pushed to kneel, while Hohenheim lifted the flexible pipe and draped it over the lip of his neck hole. The ancient alchemist turned on the spigot and viscous red fluid flooded into Al.
"Stop it!" the boy screamed. "It feels strange, oh, I don't like this. Stop it."
"A moment, my son. Your body is out there. I will have to exchange something for it. This will do." Hohenheim turned off the taps. He clapped his hands together and pressed them against the blood seal. It glowed a moment, then faded.
Now was the dangerous part. The inside of the armor glowed a fierce purple black. The gate opened. There was always a danger, of course, that the gate would not be appeased by the sacrifice. Perhaps today it longed for fresher stuff and would take the boy's soul or worse Hohenheim's flesh to fulfill the bargain. But no, it accepted his offering happily.
With trembling hands, Hohenheim opened the breast plate of the armor. Lying within, fast asleep was a boy of sixteen years, naked, reed thin and pale, but very much alive. The blood seal on his belly glowed momentarily and then faded into the flesh. Hohenheim carefully pulled the child out.
He carried the boy like a bride out of the room and down the corridor, pausing to gaze at the child's delicate features. Yes, he could see her in there. Here was what little was left of his Trisha.
Hohenheim laid the boy in bed and kissed his cheek. This time, he would not let his love go.
"How long are you going to keep me here?" Al asked, hugging his knees as he sat on his bed.
Hohenheim paused in brushing the boy's hair to consider his question. "Do you dislike my company that much? Are you that eager to go?"
The boy twisted a bit uncomfortably and looked about the room. Hohenheim had tried his best. There were a few bits of art of the sort Hohenheim thought Al might like. He'd sent Lust out to purchase comic books. Envy had acquired the soft clothes that the boy's hypersensitive flesh could bear. Hohenheim couldn't really remember being sixteen, so he wasn't sure what else would please Al. Al himself had asked for nothing, except the one thing that Hohenheim wouldn't give him. Freedom.
Freedom to get lost. Freedom to be caught up in the alchemical reaction he was planning.. No. That wasn't going to happen. "It isn't safe for you to be outside right now," was all Hohenheim could say. He knew Al would not approve of his plans, so he had no intention on letting the boy in on them.
The preparations were nearly complete. Soon, his vat would be filled with the essence of not just thousands but millions of humans. Their experience, memories, everything shed by the soul as it passed out of the world, collected, distilled and made ready for use. It was enough power to extend his will past the bounds of this world and challenge the Gate itself for dominion.
"You will have company," said Hohenheim, caressing Al's hair again. It was too blond, but the same texture as Trisha's. Hohenheim fancied he could see her slim figure in the boy's willowy frame. " Your brother will be here soon, and not long after that the confinement will no longer be necessary."
"Did you have him kidnapped as well?"
"No, he let himself be taken, when he understood that we had you." Hohenheim kissed the back of Al's neck. The boy shuddered and goose bumps appeared.
Trisha hadn't been much older than Al when Hohenheim had first met her. Perhaps it was fitting that her son had come back into his life at this age.
"Please, father," said Al, a weak objection, but an objection nonetheless.
"Please, Alphonse," Hohenheim countered. "You are all I have left of her. Your brother and you. After all that I have given you, won't you at least try to give me a moment of solace? Allow me to see a bit of her in you?"
Al turned and looked at him. He then looked down at his own hands, rubbing them gently, acknowledging what he'd been given.
Hohenhiem took the gesture as submission and pulled the boy close, kissing his soft mouth, his cheeks, the curve of his chin, the hollow under the ear. Al shuddered as his body overloaded on sensation, but Hohenheim didn't relent.
"Does it not feel good?" He murmured to the boy.
"Yes, " whispered Al, his eyes half-closed.
"Al—I know I have been a terrible father to you, but I do love you. Do you think you can find it in your heart to care about me?"
"Yes," Al's absolutely huge eyes met his. "I—I love you, too."
He needed this. Al even smelled like Trisha. Hohenheim fancied he could taste her DNA under his tongue.
He knew this was wrong by society's standards, but then so much of what he did was wrong. He had never paid much attentiont to society in the past. It seemed strange that he would even think about it now. So, Hohenheim continued to say the words he knew would provoke the most guilt in his son, and make him the most pliable. Soon enough, Al was confused enough to let Hohenheim push his pants down and stroke the length of his penis.
"Please, " the older Alchemist said. "This is the only thing I ask of you." He buried his face the boy's hair. "Is it so hard to share this body I sacrificed to get you?"
"N—no," Al said.
"I do this out of love," said Hohenheim, as he pushed the boy back against the soft cotton sheets.
"Let me see him," were the first words out of Edward's mouth. Although he was restrained, he managed to make it look as if the manacles were a fashion statement rather than a successful attempt at subduing him. Edward Elric looked every bit the master of his own fate. That would not do, of course.
Hohenheim did not feel particularly hurt by Edward's lack of warmth. To be honest he didn't feel all that much warmth towards his elder son, either. Edward had made it more than clear the last time they met that he had no interest in his father. Hohenheim peered closely at the boy. He had less of his mother in him than Al. He had far too much of Hohenheim.
Still, there was some of her ephemeral beauty—enough that Hohenheim considered him worth salvaging. And besides, beautiful Al would be sad without his brother.
"I will take you to see him in a bit, " said Hohenheim. "First I need to speak to you a bit about his condition."
Ed froze, amber eyes focused like a hawk's. "What condition."
"I have given him back his flesh. He wears the body he was born to."
"You can't have!" Ed's mouth gaped—"How—how?"
"I used the philosophers stone."
"You—you have one?"
"Yes." Hohenhiem moved closer while the boy was off guard. He put a hand gently on his shoulder. "But, there was a catch."
"Do you see the vat?" asked Hohenhiem, gesturing toward the large metal structure that dominated the room. "That is the largest alchemical battery that has ever been made. The closest thing to a true philosophers stone in existence. I have sacrificed a good amount of its contents to retrieve your brother's body back." So far he had spoken the truth. He paused to let the word sink in.
When he resumed, it was to spin a terrible selfish whopper of a lie. "Al is flesh, but he has a terrible weakness. If he is too far from the vat he will weaken and die." Hohenheim walked slowly around Ed. His son's eyes were on the vat now, and not on him. The child was so accustomed to things turning out badly that he bought this news without a trace of skepticism.
Hohenhiem continued. "Please don't tell him. He is just beginning to enjoy his new sensations again. I wouldn't want to spoil it with the knowledge that he won't have the freedom to wander the world."
"What have you told him?"
"That I want him near me. He accepts that."
Ed was frowning furiously. He wanted his brother and he wanted to get away from Hohenheim. Now he realized he would have to choose.
Which one will it be, my son. Which will win out over your heart, your hatred of me, or your love of your brother.
There was really no contest was there. Edward's shoulder's sagged in defeat. "Will you," he started. "Will you keep him safe?"
"Of course, and I will look for a cure for his condition." Hohenheim smiled. Yes, there would be a cure eventually. When the boys had grown accustomed enough with the living arrangements that they no longer sought to leave. It might take a while though.
"I," said Edward softly. "I want to see him."
"Of course." Hohenheim clapped his hands and released the manacles. "But first one more thing—"
"I will let you stay with us Edward. But for a price."
Edward looked up at him, his eyes sharp.
"I can't be your father," Hohenhiem said. "Any more than you can be my son. But, I do have needs. There is a role we can play in each other's lives. I will of course take care of your brother until such time as I've discovered a way to counteract the weakness. Should you choose to stay in my house—" Hohenheim brushed the long bangs away from Ed's cheek. "I would like some help."
"What sort of help?"
Hohenheim's lips on the back of his neck spoke far more eloquently than his voice could have.
The boys slept together now, by their own choosing. Perhaps it was because Hohenheim's underground lair was large and formidable that they chose to cling to each other. Perhaps it was the Sins who patrolled the corridors, and were not, at times, completely friendly. Perhaps it was just that they spent so much of their lives together, that being apart felt foreign. Hohenheim didn't know.
He only knew that it once again stirred a bit of jealousy in him.
He desired Alphonse for his soft, gentle grace, for the Trisha within him. However, he'd quickly become intoxicated with Edward's passionate energy. Choosing between the two was no longer possible. He wanted both of them to himself, exclusively. It hurt to have to compete for their attentions.
Separating them was impossible; it would merely make both miserable. Ah perhaps there was a way to sidestep his own jealousy.
Hohenheim opened the door to the boy's room and glanced in. There was Ed, his golden hair splayed out across the pillow, and holding him from behind was Alphonse. They were the very epitome of beauty.
Hohenheim watched them breathe for a while, then impatient that they notice him, he leaned down and kissed Ed on his cheek.
The boy twitched, and his eyes opened. He peered in the dim light up at Hohenheim. "What?"
Words were not needed. There really was no justification for what Hohenheim wanted to do. He merely sat at the edge of the bed and gathered Ed in, kissing his lips in a tender but insistent manner. Ed understood that in order to stay with Al, his participation was required. Like a true alchemist, Ed had had the lie of equivalent exchange ground into his psyche. Equivalent exchange was his founding principal, his guiding light. He accepted that sexual favors were owed for his room and board. It had not even occurred to him that perhaps some things did not have a price, or that some exchanges were in fact a far, far cry from equal.
Hohenheim gently moved Al's arm away and pushed Ed onto his back. They boys slept naked, as Hohenheim desired. With a quick flick of his hand the sheet was drawn back and Edward was revealed in all his youthful glory. Hohenheim ran a hand down his chest, over the well developed muscles of his stomach, down to the short thatch of dark blond curls. His son's sex had already begun to firm up in expectation.
Hohenheim leaned down to lick the boys cock, amused as it twitched and lengthened. Ed's lips parted and he sucked in a quick breath. Hohenheim had been a bit surprised when he'd taken Al the first time to note just how much it pleased him that his son was male and not female. He thought it would be something that he'd have to ignore, but instead he found it intoxicatingly exotic. Ed, he'd noticed had had much the same reaction when Hohenheim first took him, shy reluctance at first, then later complete enthusiastic embrace for the idea.
There was no trace of unwillingness left in either of them. Hohenheim thought with amusement that perhaps his own amoral attitude had infected them. Perhaps they'd been longing for an excuse to indulge in sensuality all this time, and had just needed a mentor to help them forge past their inhibitions.
Hohenheim continued to tongue Edward, sweeping the teen's testicles with broad flat strokes, then diving further down in the soft flesh of his inner thighs. Ed parted his legs eagerly, pulling his automail leg back with his hand until it rested against the hollow of his shoulder.
Al began to stir. Hohenheim ignored his younger son in favor of giving his attention to Edwards most sensitive parts. His tongue swept the space between the testicles and the anus, then circled in on the softly puckered muscle. It was clean, the way he insisted Ed keep it, and there was nothing but pleasure in the responses he got from Ed.
Al was definitely awake now, who could sleep with Ed moaning that way. Hohenhiem fought the urge to order Al away but instead did quite the opposite. He lifted his head and looked at Al. "Kiss him. Kiss his mouth, his nipples. Kiss him all over."
Hohenheim returned then to assaulting the hole with his tongue. The muscle was relaxing nicely, allowing him to push farther in, to use his tongue the way in a few minutes he would use his cock. His hips bucked and he was letting out loud half yells of pleasure.
It was time. "Edward, fetch the oil." Edward didn't need to do more than reach over to the night table. He handed back a bottle. Hohenheim sat up and poured the fluid over his hand and his cock. Then a thought made him pause. He wanted his children, both of them, simultaneously and equally, but such wasn't exactly possible. There was after all, only one him.
"Al, please get the toy."
Al hesitated. Hohenheim knew how sensitive he was. The vibrator was pleasurable but rather too intense for him. Perversely that was why Hohenheim chose to use it more often on Al than Edward, who simply accepted it with the same smile he did Hohenheims own cock. "I will use the lowest setting," he assured the boy.
Al nodded and crawled off the bed to reach the drawer. He pulled the device out. It was slightly thicker and just a bit shorter than Hohenheims cock, covered with soft rubber bumps designed to more completely stimulate the body.
"Edward prepare the toy," then Hohenheim, rubbed his oiled fingers into Ed's ass, feeling the muscle hug his fingers in a promising embrace. He noted Al's worry and reached out a hand to stroke his youngest's cheek. "Come here and let me kiss you."
Al did. The boy's mouth was amazing, warm and wet. He had learned much technique in the last few weeks. But mostly it was so responsive. Every flick of Hohenheims tongue against his lips caused a shudder in his body. Al was soon flushed, and slightly damp with the sweat of passion.
Hohenheim ran his hand through Al's short blond hair then tightened, not painfully, but firmly, pushing the boy lower until Al's lips were on Edwards erection. Al began lapping at it immediately. Hohenheim smiled a bit bitterly. They boys probably had done this with each other when he was gone.
Jealousy again. But no, that's what this was all about, releasing that anger. He could share Al's mouth with Ed, but only with Ed. And he could share Ed's cock with Al, but only with Al. It would be the three of them, in sensual bliss together.
Now to make the mirror. "Edward, take your brother in your mouth, as he's doing with you, and finger him the way I am."
It was almost perfect. Hohenheim sat between Ed's open thighs watching Al's head bob up and down. Al used one hand to assist his sucking, the other curled under Ed's left thigh, helping to pull the automail up and away.
Ed's body was almost entirely hidden by his brother's long slender frame. He was mouthing his brother and using his flesh hand to prepare him.
The scene was so intensely erotic that Hohenheim couldn't wait to press in. "When I penetrate you Edward, penetrate your brother at the same time. Al's head jerked, whether in anticipation or fear Hohenheim couldn't guess. It didn't matter, in the end they would all enjoy this exercise, and that was what counted.
Hohenheim lined himself up and thrust slowly in. Edward's heat seemed to flow right into his flesh, sensitizing him. He was tight and wet with lube, offering just the right amount of resistance to Hohenheim's cock.
Meanwhile Ed was thrusting into his brother, slowly and carefully. Al had lifted his face up and away to keen out his pleasure and discomfort.
"Don't hesitate, push it all the way in, yes," urged Hohenheim. "Ed, suck him now, he needs it." Al's face contorted terribly, it could have been agony, but it wasn't. It was pleasure so intense that it overloaded the boy's senses. Hohenheim dared not move, lest the stimulation to his cock cause him to come too soon.
"Is it in, Al," Hohenheim asked.
The boy couldn't speak but he nodded. "Good, then resume what you were doing."
Al nodded again and began sucking, though he was quite distracted.
The moment of danger had passed a bit and Hohenheim's own passion descended back to safe levels. He began thrusting slowly at first, using long complete strokes. The ring of muscle gripped him firmly, sliding up and down the length of his cock, from the sensitive area just behind the head to the very base. He wiggled a bit, changing the angle each thrust until he received the response he wanted. Edward bucked his hips just a little, causing Al to momentarily struggle with his cock.
How perfectly in tune they all were. How completely each boy was taken. Hohenheim found himself trying not to think too much about the sheer delicious beauty of the arrangement. He used quicker strokes now, because that was what his cock demanded. His pleasure hung just below the point of no return—right where he wanted it. Ah but for how long, how long?
"Edward, pass me the switch."
Edward's automail hand fumbled but soon reached out and down his direction. Within it was a little sliding switch, set currently at off. From it a thin wire looped across the bed over Ed's shoulder and finally disappearing in the crevice of Al's ass. Al didn't stop sucking his brother but his moans took on a more frantic note, as if protesting the idea.
Hohenheim gently stroked Al's sweat soaked hair and then thumbed the switch all the way to maximum. He could hear a faint muffled whirring noise, and again Al released his brother to cry out. Hohenheim had to guide him back to his work. Al resisted but only a little. And soon the balance was restored again.
Seeing Al's pleasure had caused a spike in Hohenheims own lust. He should stop and cool down, but perhaps that was unnecessary. At this level of stimulation, Al would not take long to come. Edward would perhaps be the one left wanting.
Hohenheim began putting some force behind his cock, slamming it into Ed's prostate, willing the stimulation to cause the boy to come. Sure enough, it didn't take long before Al choked, and semen flowed out his mouth. Al used his hand to finish Ed off as he coughed.
"Take him deep, Edward," said Hohenhiem. And Edward complied. Al had his weight on both hands now, his palms buried in the mattress to either side of Ed's hips. He threw his head back and arched over, his teeth bared in a wide grimace.
Hohenheim's pleasure spiked again, up and over the top. He felt his ball clench and then the delightful sensation of his inner muscles moving drawing his come up and through his body and out again. He continued to thrust in time with each spurt until at last he was empty.
"Take it out, please," Al was begging, post orgasmic and still far too sensitive, the vibrator was pure agony at this point. Hohenheim didn't want his child to suffer, so he thumbed it back down to off. "You may remove it, Ed."
Edward removed the vibrator. Al rolled off his brother and lay, exhausted and wrung out across the bed. Hohenheim chuckled and stroked his back. He then patted Ed's thigh affectionately. "Good night boys. Don't forget to clean up."
He then stood up and left them. As he walked the cold and lonely corridors back to his own bedroom Hohenheim heard the echoes of the dead welling up in his mind again. They spoke of lust fulfilled and love requited. Hohenheim listened to them and smiled.