TITLE: Caricature of Human Intimacy
Author: Youko Fujima
PAIRING: Ling/Alphonse (both as a girl and as a boy)
RATING: NC-17 overall (this chapter is PG-13)
WARNINGS: Overall, non-consensual sex, sexism, molestation (in large numbers), gender-bending, etc
AL'S GENDER IN THIS CHAPTER: FEMALE (this fic consists of half-and-half Al as a boy and as a girl)
BETA: circe67, thank you!
SUMMARY: How do you treat a piece of flesh offered up from a foreign land if you have never been trained in morality?
WARNINGS: THIS FIC IS RATED NC-17 OVERALL. THEREFORE, YOU ARE NOT OF AGE AND IT IS ILLEGAL TO LOOK AT THIS IN YOUR STATE/COUNTRY, PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINKS.
Previous chapter here.
As per tradition in the court, sucking-up and trying to butter up to the Emperor was a part of everyday life. In fact, winning the favour of the Emperor also meant disputing whatever someone else says falsely about you to sully your name, and therefore, it was not only a part of life, but a part of survival.
Ling never really got into that part of the court life. He credited it to his mother's side of his bloodline, which many members of the court were rather disapproving of, but he was proud of it. Life was just too short to keep worrying about what someone else was saying about you, especially if it was false. But if they were true, well, that was a different issue, especially if the truth was bent to one's disadvantage. What made it worse is if one had not built up enough credibility previously and the rumours had come from the Emperor's more trusted sons or court members. It would make for a very hard grave to crawl out of.
And crawling was Ling's task at hand. He honestly hated the morning audience, for he thought that they were boring and wasted time, but it was even worse when the audience was held for him, especially as a punishment. The formal complaint that the medical staff had filed, along with a complaint that Bai filed, had finally gone through all the red tape and was therefore ready to be addressed by the Emperor. If Ling had been any less of a member of the family, it wouldn't have taken so long and would have given him a strained and tense false sense of security. It took them nearly a month to figure out whether or not to ban him and to complain to him about the bookshelf-crashing-on-Bai incident. Truly a waste of the peasants' tax money, Ling grumbled inwardly.
It was truly embarrassing, he thought, to be prostrating himself on the carpet before his father, with whom he was rather estranged. It was really no one's fault but his father’s that he was never too close with any of his other sons and daughters past the fifth child. The man, after all, was Emperor, and made sure that he kept the clans together by means of many marriages and concubines. It was just Ling's luck to be stuck as the twelfth prince, but it could be worse. Yet, at the time, he could not think of any situation worse than having his head only a few inches off the ground. The pose strained his back.
"Twelfth son... Ling," the Emperor drawled, the pause apparently there because he could not even remember Ling's name, "You do know why you are here today?"
"Yes, Excellent Father," Ling answered, his words muffled by his position. He was so close to the floor that he could count the weaves in the carpet.
"It was brought to my attention that you had disrupted the medical staff's examination of the diplomatic specimen in a violent manner, is that true?"
"Yes, Excellent Father," Ling humbled himself with his words, "that is true."
"Why is that?" the Emperor asked, though Ling knew that no matter what excuse he gave, the decision had already been made concerning the issue.
"I thought that they were treating the specimen falsely," Ling replied.
"And that merited nearly crushing the bones of Pharmacist Liu's arm?" the Emperor countered, clearly displeased. Ling had to hold back the urge to mutter "whiner" in the face of both the Emperor as well as the entire court. When the Emperor saw that Ling had no other words to counter him with, he nodded and pulled out the sheet of paper with Ling's written punishment.
"From this day forward, on the seventeenth day of the fifth month of the year," he read from the formal announcement that decreed his words to be holy, "Ling Yao shall be banned from activities including, but not limited to, escorting the diplomatic specimen to and from the medical center as well as participating or observing any of the examinations until further notice." He paused and looked at Ling, then at his medical staff, who were trying to hide the smirks on their faces.
"However," he continued, "I shall also limit the examinations of the medical staff to only three times a month, based on the specimen's cycles, and during those examinations, Pharmacist Liu and Pharmacist Guo are the only people who are to be allowed in the room, save for one attendant each," He glared at the staff members with disgust in his eyes, "I do not want there to be rumours of my medical staff sexually harassing and using force on the specimen."
Ling bowed his head at his father's decision, silently thanking him and his own ancestors, but his "trial" was not over yet. There was still one more point to be addressed.
But, it seemed that the Emperor had something else to announce before he went onto the next complaint filed against Ling. He stood up and waved his hands to dismiss the court members who were not of the bloodline and ordered the guards to make sure that there was no eavesdropping; the next announcement was for the Family only. After the court members filed out, the Emperor motioned for Ling to stand, then looked around at his sons and daughters, nodding almost approvingly at how well they had all grown, save for his first two sons.
"As you all well know," the Emperor said with gravity in his voice, "that I am getting old and my health is not what it was while I was young." In the large audience hall, some of the princes and princesses murmured their concern, though it was almost too easy to tell which ones were sincere and which ones weren't. The Emperor, however, took all of their words in regardless.
"Therefore, I want you to know that I currently have two choices," he continued, "either find an heir in case I die, or find the key to eternal life," His eyes fell onto Ling, "Right now, we can only hope that that specimen holds some sort of secret that can lead us closer to eternal life. Ling, I hope that you are at least getting something out of keeping It."
"I am trying my hardest, Excellent Father," Ling answered meekly. In truth, however, he had not managed to get much of anything out of Alphonse, and in the course of the past weeks, his relationship with Alphonse had only gotten... not worse, but more like a stalemate. The boy (sometimes girl) refused to talk to him beyond a few words or phrases, unless there was some sort of force applied. Ling had begun to wonder if the stubbornness behind Alphonse's words was not defiance at all, but that the Amestrian really did not know anything. Ling figured that the scar on the boy's head had something to do with it, but now that the Emperor was practically giving him an ultimatum, he would have to question the boy a bit more than usual.
The Emperor looked around the room for a bit, then wrinkled his brows visibly, causing for some light panic in the room.
"Where is Third Son Bai?" the Emperor asked, "He is usually on time, if not early for the morning audience."
Just as he said that, the guards opened the door to allow Bai in, who had the worst grin on his face. As the double doors slammed behind the third prince, Ling's eyes widened at the person Bai dragged in behind him.
It was Alphonse.