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velvet mace

Gifts

chapter 1.

Roy stared up at Hohenheim. The man didn't look particularly evil, in fact he looked if anything somewhat sympathetic towards Roy, but he did nothing to relieve the Colonel's plight. In fact, he made it worse, testing the straps that held Roy tightly to the table and declaring them just a bit slack.

Helplessness sat like a lead weight on his belly. The cold penetrated to his bones. He felt unmanned, impotent and exposed before an unknown adversary.

"Are you going to torture me?" asked Roy, trying to muster as much dignity as he could.

Hohenheim regarded Roy with horror. "Of course, not. It's necessary you be undressed so I can fully visualize your body. My creation must be perfect in every regard. The straps are to keep you from hurting yourself."

I'm not going to beg.

"Let's negotiate this out," said Roy, thinking fast because his mind was the only tool left to him. "My disappearance will cause a stir. I have no interest in causing further trouble with Fuhrer King Bradley, and those I've already told seem to have known about his—condition—already. There is really no need to do anything rash and extreme."

Hohenheim seemed utterly unmoved. "I have three areas that need my attention, Colonel. It was time to put an end to your rivalry with Wrath, that's true, but that is only one consideration. You also qualify as rare material for a transmutation I plan." Roy stiffened, but Hohenheim went on, "And lastly, I'm down two of my sins."

Hohenheim tightened the strap on his ankle. "I have considered my options, Mustang. Even though you took my Lust away from me, and you do have an aesthetic appeal that would lend itself towards that sin, that isn't what I need in this case. I have decided to base my new Greed off of you.

"Now, relax. This shouldn't hurt—much," said Hohenheim as he clapped his hands together and laid them on Roy's naked chest. Roy felt cold fire tease every nerve in his body. He fought to keep from screaming.


Roy stared at himself. His double smirked back.

"There is no way you could pass for me," Roy declared. "My men will guess immediately." Still he found himself fascinated by the way the shaggy hair fell into Greed's eyes, and the slender muscular build. It was him down to the last hair and mole. Even the veins under the skin matched his own. It was like looking into a mirror.

And the eyes. Unlike most of the Sin's they were perfect, black and unfathomable, without the slightest trace of alienness to them. The ouraborus was well hidden in an armpit.

Greed watched his every move like a hawk, mimicking his mannerisms.

Roy had seen many horrors in his days. Bodies indiscriminately dissected by explosives on the battlefield, children left orphaned in appalling conditions, his own shaking hand snuffing out life with a snap, but never had he seen evil made quite so eerily personal.

There he stood, every unflattering detail, every odd pucker and faint scar, every mole and wrinkle, all perfectly copied. Roy looked at that smirk and realized just how his underlings had felt when he'd leveled it at them. It was disconcerting.

The sin stared at him and waited, until Roy turned his back and began walking again. He heard Greed's footsteps following in a slightly ragged rhythm, until slowly they fell into step with his own.

Roy rubbed his wrists where the leather restraints had rubbed his skin pink. Hohenheim allowed him to wander the corridors and rooms of his immense underground lair, unrestrained, but at the same time denied him the privacy and modesty. He'd been freed, but wasn't free.

The corridors stretched on at odd angles to each other. Roy felt caught in a maze of windowless, grey and confusing paths. The concrete was cold under his bare feet and the faint breeze from the air vents drew up his skin in goose bumps. He tried not to breath too quickly. Tried not to show outward fear. Yet he felt the hairs rise up on his back in response to a presence that came close but never touched.

There had to be a way out, but it never revealed itself.

Roy searched with increasing restlessness through an endless maze of rooms: libraries, work rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, game rooms, large rooms filled with boxes, empty rooms filled with dust, but never a way out. Eventually he had hooked back to where he started.

Roy slammed his fist against the wall in frustration, and then started as another fist bit the concrete next to his him. The other's breath tickle the back of his neck, like the faint touch of spiders legs on bare flesh.

Roy spun away careful not to touch the other. He opened the first door he came to. A guest room. Greed followed him in. He had to find some barrier of protection, against the cold and against this constant vigil.

He threw the slightly dusty coverlet off the bed and proceeded to tear the sheet free. Roy glanced back at his watcher, who only raised an amused eyebrow. It wasn't until Roy wrapped the cloth around his naked body like a toga that Greed reacted. Before he could tie it off at the shoulder Greed had grabbed the sheet and pulled it roughly off again.

Roy turned angrily on the creature. "If you want to know what my body looks like, look in the mirror. We are identical. I've had enough of you ogling me." He reached for the sheet again, but Greed grabbed his hand.

"But I like to look at you," said Greed in a soothing baritone that perfectly matched his own.

Roy's stomach clenched and he involuntarily shuddered.


There was a line they could not pass. His body may be theirs, but his mind was off limits. There was safety in shut lips and closed eyes. A haven for tender feelings and tentative hopes. It was also where shameful urges, humiliating lapses could be forever buried. His mind was full of secrets that Roy would rather die than admit. Some of them would merely embarrass himself, others would put good people in jeopardy.

For Hohenheim to strip open his mind and lay his past naked and exposed in all it's entirety before this Sin was unspeakably cruel. What happened to his flesh meant nothing. This was nothing short of rape.

"Please don't do this!" Roy begged, breaking his own vow to himself after only three days of captivity. "Please, there MUST be some other way."

Hohenheim put a finger to Roy's lips. "Shhh," he said. "It will be over quickly."

Roy's mind raced in torturous circles around the most humiliating and shameful moments of his life. The time when she was too drunk to say yes, and he was to turned on to say no, that could have, should have, would have ended his career if he hadn't been both lucky and ruthless. The inexcusable fantasies where he undressed and humiliated those who were under him, those who counted on him most. The dark jealousies that lead him to undermine his friends, tearing away their confidence, hurting them in subtle, hard to pinpoint ways.

This creature would have it all. Every shameful deed, every unworthy thought, every possible hot button. All that he was would be placed at this creatures mercy.

He felt the coffin lid closing shut.. His skin felt ticklishly sensitive to the oppressive air. He squirmed fruitlessly against the straps, but succeeded in doing nothing but abrade his wrists and ankles.

Get a hold yourself, Mustang. The panic receded.

He then paused exhausted and stared up at the dark grey ductwork lining the high ceiling. He wondered again where exactly he was. Somewhere under Central for sure, but where? And how deep?

His men must have noticed him missing by now, it had been almost three days since his disappearance. Surely they were looking. They had explored pieces of Hohenheim's underground network before. His people must be out there even now combing through its depths.

Now would be a really good time for them to barge in.

A voice brought him back to the moment. "One more time, and I think we will be done. Just clear your mind and relax." Hohenheim smiled at him again.

To think this was the Elric boy's father. Perhaps it was for the best that he'd played almost no part in their upbringing, and that they had no particular loyalty towards him. Hopefully, he'd be seeing the two soon. Even in this exposed and sorry state, he would welcome seeing Fullmetal and his rather alarming brother. Together the three of them could fight their way out of anything.

A squeak of springs drew Roy's eyes over to the other in the room. Greed sat on a swivel chair next to the slab and smirked knowingly at him. "You've had an interesting childhood," he said. "I wonder what your later years were like."

"You will know in a moment, my love," said Hohenhiem.

Roy flushed with hate. "You don't need to do this. Listen, I'm sure we can work something out between us—" At this point Roy was willing to offer almost anything, but the man was an emotional wall, and he was going to take what he wanted, offered or not.

Hohenheim again touched Roy's lips. "Relax." Then he clapped his palms together. Roy closed his eyes before the cool hands touched his head, then he screamed as his mind was ripped to shreds.


Roy woke in bed, in the same guest room he'd once tried to steal a sheet from. He felt the ghost of a headache, a reminder of the agony he'd felt on the slab before he'd passed out. Who knew how long ago that was. The windowless complex was timeless. He stared at the out of date wallpaper, and the oddly out of place watercolor depicting a sunny landscape and felt hopelessly cut off from the world.

Even more disjointing was seeing himself standing at the mirror adjusting his uniform lapel. Hohenheim was really going through with it. This double was going to take his place.

No one could believe it was him. No matter how closely alike they looked, no matter that, God his expression and stance was so eerily perfect, Greed was NOT Roy. Hawkeye would surely notice.

"You woke up," murmured his own voice. "I wondered how long it would take."

Like a masochist, Roy spoke up. "I take it you have all my memories now." Please say no.

"Yes," said the voice, just a bit amused. "They are nice. So many soldiers at your beck and call, willing to cater without question to your whims. So many women willing to shed their clothes for you. I am eager to take possession of all that."

"Then why haven't you already left to take my place?"

"Soon, soon," said Greed. He walked over to the bed and sat down. "I will." Roy flinched back, pulling blankets higher around his shoulders.

"It won't work," Roy said, utterly serious. "People will notice. Our personalities are nothing alike."

Greed shrugged. "Maybe. But I think you underestimate people's ability to rationalize minor differences. As long as I can perform your duties, I'll be accepted."

"You can't perform alchemy," Roy said, clinging to that obvious failing, "What will people say when the Flame Alchemist no longer can produce a flame?"

Greed gently patted his cheek. "Ah, well, then, I'll have to show a bit more diplomacy than you and not get myself into situations where I need to burn anyone."

Roy shrugged away from his touch. Soft as it was, it seemed to burn like an electric current running under his skin. "Are you afraid of me?" Greed asked, his expression shifted subtly, from amusement to something more predatory.

Roy felt a huge surge of horror, and his hands twitched. The ache to snap his useless fingers and strike back almost overwhelmed him. He dared not let Greed even suspect how deeply the Sin's presence affected him. He turned inwardly, grabbing onto that sick fear and twisted it, turning it to anger. Suddenly he found himself sitting up in bed, hands fisted in his own stolen uniform, glaring into those dark half lidded eyes.

"Isn't it enough that you have my appearance and memories?" Roy growled. "Isn't it enough that I can't keep you from trying to steal my job and my life? If there is truly anything of me in you, you'd have the decency to not to rub it in. Go away already and leave me alone." Roy pushed the other away dismissively.

Greed was entirely unmoved by this display. "Of course it isn't enough," He said to his prisoner. "I want everything, Roy." Roy jerked at the sound of his name. It's the first time Greed has used it, and the sheer sickening FAMILIARITY of it made Roy's throat constrict.

"I have your memories," continued Greed, his voice smooth and oily and lord, no, seductive even. "And soon I'll take over your life. But why stop there? Eventually, I want everything that there is of you."

Greed put a firm hand on his shoulder pinning him to the bed. "You are my special person."

Roy could only stare as his own image lowered and Greed kissed him. The sin's flesh was cooler than it should have been, but the touch was still eerily sensual. Roy pursed his mouth shut in resistance, but couldn't deny that Greed was indeed using careful technique. The same technique he had used on countless women.

A traitorous part of his mind mused over the sensation. So this is what all his dates experienced. A strange stirring of admiration wormed its way to Roy's conscious mind. I'm really pretty good, no wonder they swooned. Following that thought came a wave of horror that made his stomach clench and his skin crawl. This was NOT some form of auto-eroticism. This was another being who may look, feel and even be able to kiss like himself, but was still some one entirely different.

Greed was seeking access now, pushing their connection. All thought of admiration evaporated and Roy tried to twist his face away, but Greed's hands merely left his shoulders and pinned his head with viselike pressure. Greed's thumbs dug into the soft hollows of Roy's cheeks, pushing the jaws apart until Roy had no choice but to let the Sin in.

The tongue, wet and fat wormed repulsively about. No, there was nothing erotic about this. Roy tried to push it out with his own, only to feel the disgusting slide of muscle over muscle until at last he gave up and pulled his tongue as far against the back of his mouth as he could and prayed for the moment to end.

Greed withdrew looking satisfied. "So many women have kissed your lips, and now so have I. And you know what? Now those lips belong only to me. From this moment on, I will be the ONLY one to kiss you. Do you understand?"

Roy nodded dumbly. He had no urge to kiss any of the denizens of the lair, Greed included. He had the strong urge to vomit and wash his mouth out.

Released, Roy launched himself across the bed putting as much distance as he could between himself an the Sin. "Don't you dare touch me like that," he spat. He reached for anything that could be made into a weapon and coming up with a lamp. "I've killed your kind before. I can kill you, too."

Greed didn't look frightened in the least, "I'll see you in a few days," he said. "I'll bring you home a gift."

The lamp smashed uselessly into the door as it shut.


Roy walked the corridors again, alone this time, oddly aware of noises he hadn't noticed before. Skitters and clanks that seemed to come from no direction in particular caused him to jump. Occasionally he spied the other Sins, and when he did he held his head high and met their eyes with a fixed gaze, and found a way to back gracefully out of the room.

He had found no trace of an exit, but he had the beginnings of a plan.

Hohenheim spent most of his time connected to his machinery. Although no one forbade Roy from entering that laboratory, the memories of what happened there were too fresh and painful, and Roy found he didn't even want to look in the room.

As for the Sins, he mostly saw Gluttony and Envy. The former always smiled and ran his obscenely large tongue over his lips, but Roy refused to run. Envy regarded him with annoyance, staring with vicious lavender eyes until Roy awkwardly turned and left whatever room he was in.

The one time the Sin spoke to him was to say, "Greed isn't here to protect you right now."

That was enough warning for Roy.


"Your date didn't notice anything different about me," Greed bragged to Roy, while playing with a decidedly feminine silk scarf. "No more than any of your men have."

Roy looked over from the desk where he was sitting, eating his dinner in his frumpy sky blue pajamas. His lips pursed in disdain at the scarf. It was the one he'd given the woman on their third date, right before he'd bedded her for the first time. She'd cherished that scarf and worn it daily ever since. Greed knew that, too.

Roy found the implication hard to miss. Not only was Greed planning on disassembling Roy's life, but he was going to drag down those around Roy as well. It was everything he'd dreaded coming to pass.

Roy's stomach clenched with sudden nausea. He wasn't hungry anymore. "So you are a thief," Roy said, setting his spoon next to his tough stew, and wiping his face with a washcloth.

Greed never took his eyes off of Roy. Roy could feel them there, burning across his skin, judging every fine unconscious movement. "I took her dinner to the Chateau de' Laic," He continued. "And I ate your favorite, salmon with white sauce. She had the Mussels, and we shared a dark chocolate mousse for desert. I got us a 1910 Ambrula Chardonnay. It was quite lovely, I'm sure you would have liked it."

The undersalted meat tasted bitter in Roy's mouth. He bit his lip to suppress his bitterness and pain over the sheer unfairness of the situation. Greed ate his favorite meal, and Roy made due on prison rations.

Greed understood his misery completely, his eyes lazily rolling towards Roy's hardly touched food. "You should eat more. You are getting thin."

Roy said nothing, but he felt the anger thrum in him and knew he was close to exploding.

"Would you prefer I fed you?" Greed asked. For a moment they locked eyes in a silent sparing of wills. This was pointless, less than pointless. This was feeding the monster. He wanted Roy's attention, and make Roy understand exactly what had been stolen from him. The theft of the scarf was if anything more a violation of Roy than it was of his date.

Then Roy looked down at his bowl. He picked the spoon up again and carefully gathered up a little broth and sipped it down. His stomach was hard and clenched protested even that minor intrusion.

Greed smiled approvingly at him. "After dinner I took her to that Ballet you were looking forward to. It was even better than you were thinking. The leading lady was the epitome of grace. I have never seen such poise."

"You know, " Roy said. "I really don't care to hear how your date went."

"You aren't afraid I will mess up your reputation then?" I walked over to where he sat. "You don't know how much your faith in me warms my heart."

"I don't think you have a heart, Greed," Roy said coolly. He'd stopped eating again.

"She was a good lay, " Greed informed him, ignoring the accusation. "You know, she called out your name when she came."

Roy stood up and walked towards the door. She hadn't known. Even in bed she hadn't known. Roy paused to put a hand to his face. It felt hot and wet, despite the perpetual coolness of the compound.

"Don't walk away from me," Greed ordered crossing the room in long strides until Roy felt him right behind him.

"I'm done talking with you Greed," Roy put his hand on the knob, but then froze as Greed threw the scarf over his head and pulled it tight against his throat.

Roy's breath cut off and his head instantly began to buzz. He tried to pull the hands away, but the creature's strength was far beyond his own. Then he dug his fingers under the silk pulling it away, trying to stop the strangulation, but there was simply no give in the fabric. He kicked the foot behind him, hoping to surprise the Greed, but to no avail. His muscles had tensed up all over his body. Black dots, like ants, swarmed over his vision. This was it, was all he could think. What an undignified way to die, with everything he valued being shamelessly used, leaving all he cared about at the mercy of the monster.

And what would happen to him. Roy didn't believe in an afterlife. Would he cease to be? Would there simply be no more of him, ever.

Greed relaxed the cloth, allowing him to breathe again, but not allowing Roy to move away. Then his long fingers reached around Roy's chest and tied the scarf in a loose square knot, tugging the cloth to straightened it so that it hung around his neck properly.

"Don't be sore, Roy," Greed murmured in his ear. "See, I brought you back a gift."

Roy's hands clenched tightly around the scarf, ready to rip it off again, but the monster gently pried them free. Roy froze, not knowing what to do, his mind paralyzed. Greed clasped Roy's hands in his, and gently pulled the alchemist against his chest.

"There is really no need to be jealous. She was nice, but you know," Greed paused to kiss his neck, "I like you MUCH more."


"You should have heard him," Greed said, laughing, two days later.

Roy clenched felt the bite of his nails in the flesh of his palms. He wanted to cover his ears. He wanted to walk right out that door, but he couldn't. Now that he had a plan, he had to sit back and ENDURE this sadistic gloating.

"He was already well into the game before he realized those key pieces were missing" Greed continued. "You should have heard him. He swore a blue streak, and then had us all tearing the rec room apart looking for them. I had the hardest time keeping my face straight. Every time he swore, I'd put my hand in my pocket and feel those missing tiles and—oh, my, you just had to have been there."

Roy stared daggers at him. "I see nothing at all funny about annoying Breda." Keeping calm was a difficult task. It burned him deeply to know that this mockery of a duplicate was tormenting his underlings, and worse doing so using his face, his voice. Roy wished someone would catch Greed, and at the same time hoped they wouldn't, because they STILL hadn't figured out that Greed was a fake, and the reputation on the line was his own.

"You don't see the humor?" Greed sighed. "Well, really. I don't see why not. If you ask me he is far too interested in this stupid board game anyway."

Roy's eyes flickered over to the door, but he made no move to go there. Greed was faster than him and he knew it. There was no leaving until this whole sick ritual was over with. First the gloating, then the present, and finally—it wasn't worth thinking about what came next.

"Eventually, they all gave up looking for those pieces," Greed said, closing in on where Roy stood.

Roy instinctively backed up, but there was nowhere to go.

Greed's hand lashed out, with quick force and grasped Roy's. Roy felt cool ceramic tiles being into the palm. Greed's fingers covered his own, forcing Roy's hand to make an uncomfortable fist around the game pieces. He smirked. Oh how Roy was coming to loathe that smirk.

"I suggested to Breda that maybe he'd do better to spend his lunch break exercising his gut off instead of sitting on his ass showing off how smart he is. "

Roy recoiled at the ugliness of the remark. Breda was proud, and rightfully so, of his strategic acumen. He was sensitive about his weight, and in one sentence Greed had utterly undermined his underling's confidence. It was cruel and wrong. "Breda isn't fat."

"Breda's a marshmallow. You should have told him that months ago. I bet he doesn't get dates because of that paunch."

Roy's mouth was dry. "You are cruel." How was he ever going to repair the damage to his team—Roy used his free hand to cover his face. Greed was making hash of everything worth while in his life.

Patience, he told himself. Soon I'll be back. I'll just have to work harder.

Meanwhile Greed just raised an eyebrow at Roy. "What's cruel about telling a man the truth." Roy tried to pull his hand free of Greed's, but the homunculus held tight. "Do you know what?" Greed whispered conspiratorially in Roy's ear.

"I don't want to hear anymore."

But the words kept on coming like nails being driven into a coffin. "He went to the gym right then. Worked at it. See, I bet he'll get thin just for me."

Greed let go of his hand and Roy threw the tiles with all his might. They bounced off Greed's chest and scattered across the room.

"That's what I love about you, Roy," Greed purred. "You are that man's idol. All I have to do is suggest that he does something and he jumps to do it, like a trained dog. It takes talent to own people like that."

"I SAID I don't want to hear it." Roy looked towards the door again. He had to get out. But no the gloating was over, the gift had been given, it was time for the inevitable follow up.

"Don't you want to thank me, Roy?" Greed asked, just a bit of warning in his voice. "Generally people thank those who give them gifts."

Roy knew what was coming and was ready. He attempted to kick out Greed's leg and dig into his belly with a hard right undercut.

Suddenly Greed changed, his skin turned black, and his face changed. The demon within made itself visible. Roy punched him, but it was like hitting a rock. Hissing with pain, Roy grabbed his hand and tried to shake the shock off. Greed used that moment to press his advantage, grabbing him by the waist and throwing Roy onto the bed.

Roy rolled over and attempted to scoot away but Greed's weight was on him before he could go very far. He felt himself being flipped face up and for a moment those horrible pale teeth hovered above Roy's face. Then his face melted back to normal.

Roy shook, sensing the game had changed again.

"I'm tired of kissing a piece of wood. If you kiss me back," Greed whispered, "All I'll take is your lips. If you fight me, or just lie their like a dead thing—" Greed let one hand stroke down Roy's side from armpit to hip, then I thrust his groin suggestively into the Colonel's.

Roys brows knitted. This was new. Putting up with being molested was one thing, being asked to actively participate in it was another. Part of him screamed never, Greed could do what he liked with his body, and get what satisfaction the creature could from a unwilling and unresponsive partner. The rest rationalized that a little kiss would hurt nothing, but an angry homunculus was a dangerous thing to be locked in a room with.

For a moment Roy hesitated, unable to decide—hold out and risk his body or give in and Greed eat away at his soul.

"You know," said Greed, in a voice that sounded casual, but most definitely was not, "Breda adores you. I wonder if he'd go down on his knees for me. I bet he would." He let the words settle in for a second, then leaned forward to kiss Roy.

And Roy, oh god help him, Roy kissed back.


The Sins never looked in the nearly empty storage rooms. Never. Not in the two weeks of hell Roy had spent stuck in this place. But still Roy was nervous. He pushed the crates in such a way to block his workspace from view and then carefully drew a transmutation circle on the dusty ground.

It had been years since Roy had used this particular circle. It brought him back to the old days when he'd apprenticed under another Alchemist. He felt the same nervousness he'd had back then, sweating before he'd even started to work. If he had the array wrong, if in his nervousness he'd messed up in some regard, he could make life a lot worse for himself. Envy's threat rang in the back of his mind.

He pressed his moist palms against the circle and the cement floor heaved up. The noise was alarming. The room echoed with the cracks and unhappy groans. Roy immediately stopped what he was doing and waited. His blood sang in his ear and he thought he could hear someone's feet running down the hall outside.

Five minutes passed and the cloud of dust settled out of the air. He still hung in place, hardly breathing, as if the sound of his lungs would give him away. At last he let himself relax. No one was coming.

Roy tried again, this instead of channeling his entire might, he pushed slower, and with less power. There was still noise, but it wasn't as loud. A hole formed the floor of the room. With aching slowness Roy pushed the dirt, inch by inch, moving the excess off into a mound in a corner. Roy's pajamas stuck disgustingly to his skin. Dirt rose in the air and settled on everything, his hair, his clothes, the boxes and floor.

He was going to escape. He had to.


Greed visited every two or three days, and each time he brought a gift. Havoc's cigarettes, Fuery's tools, Falman's metal of valor. Roy gritted his teeth as the homunculus pressed the gift into his hand, and tried ignore Greed's gloating.

I'll get these all back to them, somehow, Roy vowed to himself. The tunnel was longer now, just a few more days, that's all he needed, a few more days and he'd break trough to the surface and give back every one of these stolen items. A few days and he'd wrest his old life back. A few days and Greed would be destroyed.

"And now it's time to thank me," Greed said, grabbing Roy's hand and pressing it against his crotch. "Satisfy me, or I may have to visit Hawkeye tonight. She can thank me with her mouth."

In Roy's mind's eye he saw the look on Hawkeye's face when her bullets didn't stop him, and the horror in her eyes as she recognized who it was assaulting her. Roy's mouth went dry. He didn't want to touch the creature, but he didn't want him touching Riza either. For a moment he actually dared to hope that Greed was joking, or would change his mind, but instead the thing unzipped his fly.

"You or her, Roy," Greed said. "Which will it be."

Roy hissed but took the creatures cock in his hands and jacked him off as quickly and efficiently as he could. When he was done he washed his hands until they hurt.


"I'm surprised you never made a move on her," Greed said. "She's been alone now for months and she clearly loves you. Tell me was it the kid that stopped you? I'm sure the brat could be shipped off to some other relative to raise."

"I'm not listening to you," Roy said, but he couldn't keep from looking at the piece of jewelry Greed was casually slipping on and off his finger. Roy recognized the distinctive etching. Hughes' wedding ring.

"I know you've thought about it. I figured it was time. After all we can't have the little widow pining the rest of her life over a corpse."

Greeds words bit deeper than normal. Gracia had been the source of a lot of inappropriate emotions. He'd been jealous of her, for taking away his friend, and he was jealous of Hughes as well, for actually finding someone so perfect. Even as he'd eaten at their dinner table, he'd secretly wondered if he could somehow woo her away from her husband. He'd buried those thoughts since Hughes death, but Greed knew about them.

He new all Roy's shameful secrets.

"Leave Gracia out of this," said Roy bitterly. His heart was beating hard again, but his anger was feeling weaker and less righteous. He knew he couldn't save her from Greed. He could at most buy her time.

"So I took her to lunch today," Greed continued, Fed her all your best lines. She ate them up, you know. Just like all the other women. She blushed. When I kissed her, her mouth was hungry, I tell you. Like she'd been starved for months."

"She's vulnerable and alone, and how DARE you."

"I'm going to take her out to dinner on Saturday. Maybe I'll get lucky." Greed winked at him. "But you know, she will never mean anything to me."

Roy didn't even dare look at the door. The tunnel was now three hundred feet long. It couldn't be much farther before he reached something. Just another day, two at the most and he'd be free. But if Greed got angry at him what damage he could do in that time—

"Yes," said Greed. "Or maybe I'll get lucky with you instead. Do you think you can satisfy me as well as she could? Will you sacrifice yourself for her?"

Greed crossed the room. Roy stood still. "Give me your hand," said Greed.

Roy hesitated, but then held out his hand. Greed pushed the ring on his finger. It was tight and scraped over the knuckle, but Greed didn't stop pushing until it was seated at the base. "I suppose you could say I just married you," said Greed. "Now long as you keep me happy, I won't touch Gracia."

Roy breathed a sigh of relief. Just a few more days and I'll be done with this. I can last a few more days, no matter what he throws at me.

"Now," said Greed, his smile widening. "Kneel."


Roy put his all into the array, moving the dirt, never minding the exhaustion, the sweat, even the time that was racing by. Perhaps he was too oblivious. He could still taste the Humunculus come and feel the disgustingly soft flesh rubbing his lips and throat sore. He swore he was getting out of this place before Greed had a chance to give him another gift or exact another "thanks."

He wanted to deny it at first, but he couldn't. Roy hesitated, hands pressed into the clay and cocked his ear down the long tunnel. Just a moment more, any second he could break through to something, but—

Roy heard Greed's voice echoing. "You can't hide, I will find you."

Hastily, Roy backed out of the hole. Hurry, hurry, hurry. He scrambled of the hole and half crawled, half flung himself onto the array painted in mud on the concrete floor. With every ounce of energy he had he willed the hole to close. The second stretched to eternity as the concrete reformed.

Then the door banged open. Greed's eyes found him before he could wipe out the array under him. Three strides and the creature was on him, throwing him aside. The homunculus looked at his muddy hands and dirty clothes, and then at the array. There was no point in deception. Greed knew exactly what that array would do.

"You are filthy, Roy," he said flatly after a moment. There was no trace of humor on the face.

Roy couldn't stop breathing hard. His mouth was dry and his heart hammered. He was certain he was going to vomit again, but he managed to swallow the bile back down.

"I know you don't love me." Greed paced the floor to where Roy lay. "I know you want to betray me and take away all that is mine. I know that you want to leave me."

Roy started to pull himself up to standing. The homunculus was watching him like a hawk, circling, slowly. Then Greed turned his back on Roy and walked around the perimeter of the room, tapping against the wall. "Where did you hide the hole."

Roy said nothing, but held his breath as Greed walked over his hastily hidden tunnel and continued on. His heart was hammering, he felt shaky. What was Greed going to do?

"You hid it pretty well," continued Greed. He suddenly stopped and walked into the center of the room where Roy was and put out a hand to smooth Roy's bangs back. "You know what?" The homunculus smiled. "That's ok."

Roy's heart skipped a beat.

"I brought you a special gift this time," said Greed. "One that will make you want to stay." He drew a line with his finger down from Roy's temple to his lips. "One that will keep you with me, forever."


"This gift is very, very special," Greed told Roy, when they'd returned to his room. "Almost as special as you. Handle it gently." He turned to the desk and lifted up the lid of a fancy lacquered box. While Roy frowned, he pulled out a six by six inch square wrapped in silk. "I should make you wash up before you touch it, but I don't mind a little dirt. Just be careful not to touch the middle part. You'll spoil it."

Roy's sweat evaporated coldly on his body and he shivered. He couldn't keep his eyes off the square and his mind raced through anything of that shape and size that he knew of. He came up empty, there was nothing that would cause the kind of reaction Greed was clearly expecting, and if anything that scared Roy even more.

"Sit down," said Greed.

Roy did on the edge of the bed. A bed that in a few minutes would be used for something else, but he didn't want to think of that either. The he felt a stirring of dread as Greed placed the square in his hands. It felt very heavy. He couldn't imagine what it could be, but the care Greed was giving it made his stomach grow sour.

"Open it," said Greed.

Roy's hands trembled a little as he unwrapped the silk. A square of metal, slightly bowl shaped slipped out of the fabric. Roy's breath caught as he turned it over.

An eight pointed star in a circle, drawn in blood turned brown by age. A single curl looping down to the center of the array.

"I think he's alive," Greed said. "Well, as alive as he's been in a while. For a while he talked, but he's gone silent in the last few hours."

Roy could only barely hear Greed's voice. It had gone far off and tinny. The only thing he had room in his senses for was the cold weight of metal under his fingers and the array which burned it's way into his mind. The edges were not smooth, he could see the scoring of a blade that had gone a bit too far here and there, but the array itself was perfect and untouched. He thought he felt a vibration, a faint pulse of life within the scrap.

Roy's mouth moved but there was no voice behind it.

"I don't think he liked being locked in the box," Greed said.

Roy eyes widened and his lips pulled down with horror. He suddenly pictured Al, walking behind his brother. The sheepish way the soul tried to make his metal hulk smaller. The strength he possessed when angry. And Al's voice, so high and sweet and innocent. Brilliant Al. Cursed Al.

"Take him back," he managed to gasp.

Ed would be looking for Al now. Those two were never apart for long. And when Ed found the armor, missing it's one vital spot. Roy's breath hitched in and he couldn't seem to let it go again. Ed would be devastated. Ed LIVED for Al. Greed would destroy two at once.

"What was that Roy?" Greed watched the tears welling up in Roy's eyes. "Don't you like it? I worked VERY hard to get you him. You should have seen how hard he fought me. He even tried to do an alchemy circle. I had to disassemble him. You should have heard the way he begged."

Roy gripped the piece harder, bringing it to his chest. He heard a faint high cry and then realized that his dirty shirt was pressed to the array. He held the metal out again, his hands shaking so hard they could barely hold on. Al was so vulnerable. Roy could hardly hold it without touching the array.

Roy spoke louder. "Give him back to his brother. For gods sake, you murdering sadist, give him to his brother. Maybe he can still be saved!"

Greed cocked his head. "Why would I do that? After all the work I went through to get this. Maybe I'll keep it for myself if you don't like it. Or I can put it back in the box and store it until you come to appreciate it."

A disembodied whimper echoed in Roy's ears.

"NO!" said Roy, grasping the horror. "No. Please, Greed, give him back to Ed. Don't store him. For God's sake man, he's just a kid. I'll do whatever you like."

Greed paused and smiled. "Whatever I like?"

Roy stared at the square. The whimpering became louder.

"You will show me where you hid your escape tunnel?"

Al gasped.

Greed smile grew larger. He pulled the square of metal from Roy's hands with hideous ease and lifted up the silk cloth.

All that work—Days and days—His hope and dreams weighed against the suffering of another. It was unfair, impossible.

"Yes," Roy choked out, despairing.

Greed put the square on the night table and propped it up against the lamp. "Very well, Roy, he stays out of the box. For now." Greed's eyes raked over his double. "Even though you are very dirty, you are still my special person." His voice hung in the air between them.

Without prompting, Roy unbuttoned his shirt. There was no saving Al. There was no saving any of his friends. There was no saving himself. There was no outside world, no job, no life beyond this. His future collapsed into the moment. Hard hands positioning and pinning him, A cool mouth against his spine. Pain that reached all the way to his soul.

Roy clenched his eyes shut and pressed his open mouth against the mattress, while Al sobbed to the rhythm of Greed's thrusts.