Title: Between Pluto and God
Pairing: Envy x Ed, hints of Ed x Al
Warnings: Spoilers through the end of the series, language, angst.Angst
Notes: This has been my FMA Opus, I swear. This was an amazing piece to write, and I may revisit it at a later date, but for now, I like where it went, how it went, and the flow. Thank you to everyone who read it, double thanks to everyone who commented; you inspired me to keep this going, to keep spilling out the chapters. This fic is dedicated to all of you.
It was well into the middle of the next day when they stopped, their legs aching, their breath ragged. The thought of staying in a town was dismissed in fear of being discovered; in the end, Edward and Envy found solace in the depths of some woods a mile off the road. Building a low fire, Ed moved close to where Envy sat atop a log, his hands outstretched towards the flames, shivering slightly.
"Of all the things to bring, you didn't think to get another coat?" Envy muttered, scowling a little. "Do you even know the meaning of the word 'prepared'?"
"If you want, I can take you back there," Ed shot back, his eyes narrowing. Fingers dug into his pack, now dusty and a little worse for wear, and pulled out bread and a cheese roll. A knife was produced a moment later, and cutting pieces off, he began to share them with his companion. "I have no problem with that."
Envy narrowed his dark eyes, but set to eating the sandwich. How close to the surface did that bring everything? He was in debt. Damn, he was in debt big, and to Edward, of all people. It made everything sting, everything sour, made the bread taste moldy and cheese stale. He snorted, chewing in silence, listening to the toads that serenaded them, and shivered.
At least, until something heavy fell about his shoulders, something already infused with the heat of a body. Envy turned to look, to stare at Edward who was moving closer to the fire, trying to get warmer now that he had no coat. He thought of saying something, of telling him that he was an idiot for giving up his heat, that for once, he should think of himself; instead, he slid his arms through the sleeves and sat in silence, munching on the bread.
"Where are we going?" he whispered, watching the sticks in the fire fall, the fireworks of sparks drifting into the sky a few feet.
"France," murmured Edward, cold hand working the knife down through the cheese. He didn't flinch when he heard shuffling, fallen leaves crackling, when he felt the warm arm of the gifted coat wrap around him and draw him near.
"I heard they smell there," Envy sighed, leaning into Ed, sharing the warmth of the insulation.
The alchemist laid his head on the other's shoulder, swallowing the tangy cheese. "Well, it's either perfume or never being allowed outside again."
There was a moment of silence, before Envy's cheek was resting against the golden crown. "Do I have to decide right now?"
Not responding, the golden eyes closed and bodies melted into one another by the campfire. Eventually, it fell upon itself, flared, then fizzled out, a metaphor for life tangled in a five minute ordeal, but they were asleep long before such things could hit their weary minds.
Three days later found them in France, deep enough that they didn't have to worry about errant German soldiers wandering over and accidentally running across them as they did trips to the store. They were in a small village, quaint enough to be cute, but not cute enough to be cliché. They nested in a small studio over another restaurant, and they both paid for rent by helping out in the kitchen below, though Edward worked far more than Envy.
They had started to build a life, one that was tangled with one another. Although neither one were comfortable with it, there was a security in not being alone in a strange land; they were life rafts on a sea of doubt. Time was tense, strained, and French was a bitch to learn, but they had managed, found pathways that language wasn't restricted by.
Weeks drifted, and they heard nothing of Germany's manhunt, of the country's pride being wounded. They found solace only after a month, then two, of silence, breathing out in relief as they were allowed such a privilege as ignorance. And it was in this time that Edward brought home a bottle of wine, fine and dusted and corked with the sweetness of a loving maker.
"What is that?" Envy asked, folding one of the shirts that he had pulled off the line. It was still warm from the sun, fresh and bringing his nerves of his fingers to life.
Ignoring the question for the moment, Edward disappeared into the kitchen, emerging only when he had two tea mugs in tow (wine flutes were an expensive luxury that mattered little to them; as long as it held the drink, it served its purpose). He took a seat on the cot that Envy had chosen to occupy for their stay in the flat, pushing the clothes, folded and not, onto the floor in a messy heap.
"What did you do that for?! came the indignant yell, dark eyes staring down at the mess of clothing. "I was almost done!"
"Shut up," Edward purred, handing him a cup of wine before pouring one for himself. "No complaining during a celebration."
Envy stared down into the swirling, almost violet depths, before looking back up into Ed's excited gaze. "Celebration? For what?"
The sip the alchemist took made his nose wrinkle, but he passed it off like it never happened. "Our daring escape."
"You're a little late." Envy brought the wine up to his nose, sniffing it, trying to discover if any drugs or poison might be lurking; it seemed clean. After a small swallow, he found it tasted clean, too. "That was two months ago."
Logic, though skewed, always went in a line that jumped from point A to point B, and so on. Edward had gotten rather skilled at using such knowledge in his favor. "But we've stayed in the clear for sixty days. That means we're safe, as far as I'm concerned. Therefore, celebration."
And what better reason was there than that which was given? Envy smiled, raised his mug, and bounced it off Ed's. "To us."
Hours later saw them lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling, the bottle long empty and tipped on its side on the floor. Shoes had been kicked off, toes wiggling, the window open to let it in the night breeze. Comfort was a blanket over the room, something so warm, so natural, that it was a wonder that anyone could draw coherent thoughts at all.
There had been a funny antidote that had ended in laughter before fading from fuzzy, drunken minds. Silence owned them, owned the air, before Edward rolled over, glassy golden eyes staring across at dark hair that spread out over pillows and blankets alike.
"Did you ever do this with your brother?" Envy wondered out loud. His speech was slurred, the "S"s dragging long, and hard letters suddenly going soft.
There was a moment of thought, before a quiet answer drifted out, permeated the air. "No."
Envy laughed, nodded as his hand slid down onto the mattress between them. "Finally, beat him on something."
Silence, before the soft pressure of even softer lips interrupted what was turning into a 'moment'. The cot creaked as metal and flesh rolled atop the pliable body of a human, cold steel rolling down the curves of slight hips and delicate ribs. The tip of a heated tongue found the first scarred letter, alcohol breath warming pink, puckered skin of a jagged "F".
Envy laughed as Ed's hair fell forward, tickled his chest even as that tongue found the "A". His long fingers grabbed the golden strands, threading through them, tangling and clinging like they were ropes to his salvation. His body was a hazy sun, heat that poured from every pore and seeped into the air about them. Edward's mouth was igniting his nerves, a flare and an explosion back to life.
"The...the voices ssstopped," Envy whispered, back arching as a soft mouth found the "I". Feet pressed down on the mattress, digging as he rolled into him. "They st-stopped!"
A hand dipped, caught something, squeezed it softly, earning him a soft moan. Golden eyes wouldn't look up, couldn't look up; they stared at pale skin of smooth torso. "Don't...let people hear you talk like that," he murmured, clutching him tighter. "They might...might think you're crazy."
A voice cracked, the breath wafting up from pleasure-heavy lungs, and Envy smiled, lips crooked. "Maybe I am."
Ed traded his tongue for his finger, tracing those letters instead as he slid down the body. Lips found the small indent of a navel, dipped down further, and met the hand that was so warmly gripping Envy. Before the cool tip of his tongue met the burning secret flesh, he whispered, "This means nothing."
The tension fell on the room, awkward for a moment before a sweet, skilled mouth fell over his lust, forcing Envy to purr as he fell back against the cot. Fine. Nothing. This meant nothing, but nothing had ever felt so good, so warm to his body and his soul. Nothing had ever felt so filling.
Moonlight created shadows over walls, over floors, the twined bodies wrapped throughout one another so deeply that they had turned into a serpent eating its own tail: no beginning, no end. Envy's head tipped back, fingers splayed over the strong back, the cold metal, and he could imagine, just for a moment, that it was his name that Ed was whispering instead of his brother's.
Three A.M. was a magic hour, an hour where Edward still stared up at the ceiling, the cool breeze seeping in through the open window, billowing thick white curtains. His skin still burned with Envy's touches, his kisses, his lips and teeth and fingertips, his ears still warmed by the exclamation that he was human, human, dammit, and that the voices stopped. Fingers pillowed his head, his teeth catching his bottom lip, chewing it to Hell, the guilt weighing down on his soul.
It hadn't meant anything, had told him that it didn't, but the way Envy had looked at him...he knew his own eyes didn't match that same wonder, that same hope. He knew he couldn't feel it, feel that human heartbeat not because he wasn't real, but because his heart beat for another. And Envy...Envy had to know it, too, had taunted him back at the old apartment about it.
But he had been a sliver of hope for Envy. He had shown him what humanity could feel like, not love, but companionship. Friendship. Lust. Sanity. Who wouldn't fall victim to that?
He growled, swinging his feet off the edge of the cot, leaving Envy to curl up into a fetal ball beneath the white blanket. Lacing up boots quickly and grabbing his coat, he slid from the flat, down the stairs, out of the main restaurant and out into the night. It was crisp and quiet, near silent, and he found the peace he needed in back alleys under the stars.
While passing between two tall, brick buildings, a rustle caught his ear, made him whirl around. It was Envy, had to be, Envy had followed him, wanted to know where he was going, why he wasn't back in bed. It was Envy who would bitch and moan and whine and turn into his normal, smarmy self. It was...
...a small orange and black tabby, staring up at him with a piece of rotten fruit dangling from its little mouth.
Edward stared at the kitten, even as it meowed to him, stared up at him with beady black eyes. The stripes along the top of its head brought the alchemist back, back to a place in the rain, back to when Al creaked when he walked and rain pelted from gray skies overhead. He smiled a little, reaching down to scoop the cat up, to hold it to his chest, to feel the rumble of the purr burrowing down into his torso. He closed his eyes, burying his nose down against the fur, pursing his lips to kiss the top of the small head.
The muscles down his back tightened, squeezed, as he straightened. There was something behind him, could hear the sound of wind, of tearing, could feel intense power run through him, through the air, like he hadn't in years. Tears prickled the corners of his eyes; was he dreaming, still lying in bed beside Envy, curled around him with limbs knotted? Was the wine still pouring through his mind, making this all so close? Was it the guilt, making him think, feel, believe?
"B-Brother? Is that...is it...?"
The kitten was clutched tighter to his narrow chest, brought in so close that it meowed in annoyance. He was afraid to turn around, afraid to look, to see nothing there, to see his imagination completing its cruel game, was afraid of so much disappointment. He couldn't bear it, not that, not that denial of every hope, every dream, not now, not ever.
"I can't hold this open forever. If it...if it is you, turn around! Turn around and let me see you!"
The kitten was a shield, a shield against the horror of being faced with nothing, no smiling face, no beautiful boy with dark blonde hair, no wide and hopeful smile. The kitten would give him something to hold onto when no one met him, when it was just the dreams that never faded, when it was a momentary lapse of reason. The kitten would pick up the broken pieces of his soul when there was just the mouth of the alley there to meet him.
"You-You're always so impatient, A-Al," he whispered, his voice thick, wet, heavy. His boots scraped over the cement of the alley, forbidding thought as he whirled in a typhoon of blonde hair and black overcoat and orange fur. His eyes were closed, closed until he was facing straight ahead, until he felt the fingers spreading over his cheeks, across his lips, through his hair. "Al..." And golden eyes opened.
The air was ripped in two, time and space divided and split jaggedly down the center of the alley with blue electric tongues lapping at the edges. In the depths, he could see the Gate, and beyond the darkness of that, a room that looked almost...familiar. But those were things that didn't matter, didn't at all, because Al was there, was standing in front of him, Al who looked younger than he had expected, Al who looked beautiful in electricity and moonlight.
"Brother!" came the hurried yell, the hands covered in chalk dust and blood held out, reaching out for him, trying to grab him, pull him into the midst of the split.
"I never thought...I had st-started to give up..." Edward shifted the cat to one hand as he rubbed his eyes, the damn things watering from flying dirt and grit, mmhm. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry, Al!"
Al grabbed the hand, tugging him close for a warm, unearthly embrace. "You should never give up hope. As long as one of us is out there, we will always find each other." His lips moved against golden hair, soft letters formed sweetly. "Come on. We're going home."
Going...home. The only thing he had been working towards for years now, and now it was here, here within his grasp, in his fingertips. Al had beaten him to it, had found a way sooner than he had, and the thought made him smile, made him proud, made him...complete. His brother was safe, had fared well, was himself again, flesh and blood and bone and soul. He was a human!
"Al, Envy's here, he's hu--"
The edges of the split started to fall in on itself, slowly working its way closed. Al's eyes widened in brimming panic, his fingers clutching, yanking onto one arm, the one with the cat, pulling Edward towards him. "We don't have time! Come on!"
Ed looked back up at the sky of France, up at the constellations that looked different than his, at the moon that was so silver in the black night. He looked up at drab buildings that littered the sky, looked down at dead streets where whores catcalled from far brothels. He looked to where Envy lay sleeping with dreams of sinning, to where Hohenheim poured over newspapers in fear of finding an article on the death of his son. He looked at the world that had been a house, but never a home, and smiled.
Edward Elric stepped through the rift just as it closed behind him.
Envy woke to a cold bed, and an even more frigid apartment. The bottle still laid on the floor, tipped over, the mugs scattered and tainted with their wet mouths. When he peered down, he could see the bruises left by wanton lips on his chest, speckled over the scars. He looked for shoes, and when he saw them gone, saw just that days clothes gone, he was able to kid himself into thinking that Ed had just gone out for milk, for bread, for breakfast or the newspaper or something.
Two days passed, and Envy knew that Edward would not be coming back, that he was nothing less than his father's damn child, that genetics went beyond growth! Envy had been abandoned again, had been left, again, and all that talk about them being the same was a load of shit!
Rage knew no bounds for a sin that had been so ruthlessly scorned twice.
Weeks later saw Envy in a bookstore, fingers running down the broken and beaten spines of several tomes. He was bored, lonely, aching for something to do in his extensive free time, some way to make the minutes tick faster. France had become a bitter home that he no longer cared to be in, but it was a cold grave that he couldn't leave when he had no money, no background.
The tips of his nails drifted over a particularly beaten volume of something, and he winced in pain as the voices in his head screamed, wailed, thrashed. His hand jerked away, his eyes wide, before reading the name. A little smirk caught the corner of his mouth as he pulled it from the shelf, dropping it on the checkout counter near the humble door.
The clerk looked down at it, a little mask of surprise written over his boyish face. "I didn't even know we had this! Theory of Spectra and Atomic Constitution by Niels Bohr; I heard it's great. I hope you like it."
As Envy spread his meager money out on the counter, he smiled and purred. "We'll see."
And Thank You