Sloth the Workaholic Part 2

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Sloth didn't wake up until nine o'clock the next day. That's right, she slept in for a whole three hours. Rebel.

It was too early for anyone else to be up, after all, what did they have to wake up for?

Looking for something to do, Sloth turned her gaze to her attaché case... which was just out of reach... Just a little paperwork can't hurt... I'll just, But no. Someone, probably Envy knowing his sense of humor, had emptied her little valise of all things Military, and replaced them with a simple note reading, "The Paperwork Fairy came while you were asleep. Have a nice day!"

The phone rang.

Her eyes still on the prank message, Sloth reached for the receiver, but ended up just knocking it off the table.

The phone rang again.

"Lust! Get the phone!" Greed's room called irritably.

"Yeah, fat chance of that. Gluttony! Get the phone!"

The phone rang again.

"Envy! Lust wants you to get the phone!"

"Tell her to get it herself, lazy tramp!"

"What did you just call me?"

The phone rang again.

"Someone gonna get that before Wrath wakes up?" Greed called out again.

"Oh, crap." said everyone else in unison.

And so, Envy got the phone, spent maybe ten seconds listening, and handed it right over to Sloth.

"Here, Sis, it's for you."

"Telemarketer?" Sloth guessed, listlessly picking up the receiver. "Oh, even better..."

"Is someone dying at home, Sl-," Right on time, Bradley stopped himself, "Jessica?"

"Juliette."

"Right, that's what I said... you know it's after nine, right? Wrath didn't set all the clocks back again, did he?"

"No, I know what time it is, I just," Sloth started to explain, but her boss cut her off urgently.

"Sl- Jule, if you guys are being held hostage by a bunch of psychos, just tap the receiver twice, I'll send help... stay calm..."

"No, sir, everything's fine here, I'm just calling in sick today."

"You don't get sick, Jule."

"Then I'm calling in a family emergency."

"You don't have a family."

"Then I'm calling in dead."

"You don't die."

"I'm just not coming to work today, ok?"

"If you're not here in the next twenty minutes, I'll fire you."

"But... but, sir, I can't...!" Sloth sputtered helplessly.

Not pleased with the half of the conversation he was hearing, Envy asked for the phone. "Look, Bradley, you obnoxious little fu... is there someone else on this line?"

"It's just Sciesca." Sloth sighed. "She lives in the basement and stalks me."

"Oh... all right... hi, Sciesca... yes, it's nice to meet you, too...no, she's fine, but she's sick... LIAR? Who are you calling a liar, Brad-boy?"

Shrieking obscenities at the phone, Envy wandered into the next room.

"Oh, really? You and what army?... oh, I'm shaking... tell who?...Tell her what?... Daw, is mean ol' Envy picking on you again? Come on, Brad, don't be such a... yes, she's sick! You know Sloth, she,... what's that?... Oh, fine, you know Juliette, she wouldn't skip work if she didn't have a reason!"

Sloth closed her eyes with a faint grin.

"...sick, yeah... You do know what that means, right?... she can't what? What makes you say that?... No, I'm afraid I don't know what you mean. Sciesca, maybe you could tell me, what's so unbelievable about Ms. Douglas being a little ill once in a while? She's only human, right?" (On the other line, Sciesca almost had a heart attack at being asked such a trick question.) "... see, sir, Sciesca thinks it's plausible... yeah, that's what I thought." Envy hung up and returned to the living room. "You've got the day off."

"Mommy's staying home?" Wrath asked delightedly from the stairs, smiling like Envy had announced that they were going to have Christmas today just for the heck of it.

"Yes. And you had better be quiet, brat, or else," growled Envy threateningly. Sloth felt that this was a bit unnecessary.

"He's fine, En," she said gently, folding the child up in her arms. "Good morning, sweetie."

"Morning, mommy. Do you really get to spend the whole day with me?"

"Yes, dearest. The whole day."

"So... we can finish the story you're reading?"

"Of course. Why don't you run upstairs and grab it for me?"

"Seriously, Slothy," Envy continued after Wrath had dashed loudly up the stairs (eliciting groans from everyone who was trying to sleep). "If he bugs you, tell me. You're relaxing today. I ought to be taking care of you."

"If that's the case, I don't suppose you'd like to get me something for breakfast?" Sloth asked hopefully. "Maybe some pancakes... or, do you know how to make french toast?"

Smiling condescendingly, Envy patted her head. "When I said taking care of you, I meant more in the stuff-that-doesn't-require-a-lot-of-effort way."

"That's what I thought. Would it take a lot of effort for you to leave me alone for a bit?"

This was the wrong thing to say. Envy immediately drew himself up haughtily. "Well, there's gratitude for you. Fine. I'm leaving!"

"Good," Sloth muttered under her breath, staring remorsefully at the kitchen.

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Envy came back a little later to remind her that he was shunning her, but, much to his annoyance, she didn't notice.

Wrath, snuggled on the couch next to his 'mommy', looked disturbed as she read the part of "The Princess Bride" wherein Westley dies. "Mommy," he whimpered, "Do the bad guys always win?"

Sloth sighed and stroked his hair. "That'd be nice, Wrath, but it doesn't usually work out that way."

The boy pulled away from her. "What do you mean, 'that'd be nice'? The bad guys aren't supposed to win!"

"Wrath, sweetie, we are the bad guys."

"Oh yeah. All right, keep reading."

Envy coughed, but they didn't look up.

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When he came in next, Wrath was gone, and Sloth was asleep. It was such an unusual and sweet spectacle that his resolve to shun her melted, and he instead found a sort-of clean blanket sitting around to throw over top of her. "Rest up. I don't want my Sloth out of commission for too long."

"Why do we do that, Envy?" Sloth asked without opening her eyes. Envy jumped a little. He had thought she was sleeping.

"Do what?"

"That my thing. We're very possessive."

"Huh?"

"You know. Your Sloth, my Wrath, our Lust, her Glut. That's how we refer to each other. It's very weird. I mean, humans don't do that."

Envy sat down on the sofa's arm thoughtfully. "Humans do, though. It's our mother, your brother, my sister, his wife, her husband. They do it all the time."

"But, that's different. I mean, they don't say my Winry, they say Winry. Why do we do it different?"

"Because humans don't appreciate each other, that's why," Envy said after a moment of contemplation. "You're my Sloth, and I'm your Envy because we have a bond, y'know? Humans, they're too full of themselves to bond with anyone else. They can only turn them into objects and possess them. My mother, my brother, my sister. If you don't use a name, they just become another object. My Winry implies that there's some relationship there beyond ownership. And even a human wouldn't be so presumptuous as to claim that."

"Hmm," Sloth hummed thoughtfully. "That's not what I would have said. I would have said that we can't form the bonds humans have. But, we want them, so, we have to reassure ourselves that we do have them. A human can just say Winry, because they know that she's still their Winry without saying it. We can't do that. We need proof. He's my Wrath. He's my child. You're my brother, you're my Envy. I have to say that, or it might stop being true."

"Sloth, how long have you been lying there thinking about this?" Envy asked.

"Well, it's actually an idea I've had for a long time."

"No wonder you had an emotional breakdown."

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With the revelation that Sloth was not only a workaholic, but a philosopher, Envy and Greed came up with a fool-proof rehabilitation plan. They rounded up every sugary-sweet, feel-good, or no-brain movie they could find, and subjected the unfortunate intellectual to them until she was feeling that the world was a happy, carefree place, full of last-minute solutions, perfect matches, and the occasional car chase (often involving helicopters). Within no time, she was back on her feet, walking back to work in her "sensible" heels, bracing herself for the chaos that no doubt ensued in her absence.

It was with Juliette Douglas's patented, amused-yet-not-surprised smile on her face that she walked past the smoldering remains of a Vend-O-Matic on the parade ground, through the halls that were flickering as though someone in the basement was having fun with the fuse box, and back to her job as the unofficial head of the country, the one sane homunculus, and just generally the duct tape keeping Amestris in one piece.