Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist isn't mine, characters and world aren't mine either. I am making no money off of this.
A Shadow Still Remaining
The stone chapel was silent. The air was still and heavy, no draft stirring the dust or the thick velvet curtains that hung against the stained glass windows that looked out onto nothing. Lust's soft boots made no sound on the worn stone floor. Small puffs of dust rose at her footfalls. She felt small and humbled in this silent place, the stone faces of dead and forgotten saints watching her with eyes both hard and accusatory.
She paused before the alter. A moth-eaten alter cloth was thrown across it, once red and gold it was now brown and yellow. Muted candlesticks stood at either end, thick wax clinging to the old gold from candles that had burned down centuries before Lust was born. She knelt, dust and something thick and brackish clinging to her dress as her knees rested against the stone floor.
Still she didn't speak. She couldn't bring herself to break the silence. It wrapped around her like a shroud and filled the abandoned house of god. Her eyes dropped from the alter, finally, and fell to the grotesque thing that lay before it. Her violet eyes narrowed in puzzlement, and she searched the writhing mass of muscle and tissue for any hint of humanity. There was none, only pulsing organs and blood-filled veins spiraling through the arches and caverns of malformed flesh.
"Here." Lust's voice was barely a whisper. She opened her hand and held out a palm full of red stones, offering it to the newly born homunculus. She watched in morbid fascination as the thing twisted and flexed, a limb that could have born resemblance to an arm and hand stretching out to take the stones from her. Had Sloth been so malformed and inhuman?
"There we are." Her voice was still hushed. Lips turned down in a thoughtful frown, Lust reached out her hand to touch the thing. She ran gloved fingers over one misshapen ridge of flesh, recoiling some as the thing shuddered under her touch. She made soft soothing noises and continued to stroke it, fingers passing over gnarled lumps of bone and crooked twists of joint and sinew.
"And how is our new Greed doing?"
Lust leapt to her feet at the voice behind her, harsh and echoing in the silent stillness of the chapel. The thing before the alter convulsed and made some rasping noise, and Lust frowned, wanting to return to stroking it and soothing it.
"Fine, Master," Lust said, lowering her head in respect for the diminutive woman.
"Good, good." The master approached, her short hair swishing about her chin. She looked down at the newly formed homunculus with curious eyes. "He's coming along nicely."
"How long before he…?"
"Resembles something fit for polite company?" The master laughed, a high and light sound. She crouched down and held out her hand and Lust wanted to slap it away. He was hers. "Give him time. He's not even a few days old. You grew rather slowly yourself."
Lust nodded, tightly. She was tired of waiting. But it was with fondness and pity that she looked upon the malformed mass of flesh that was a fresh homunculus. Soon. Soon he would be fully formed. Soon she would have what she had longed for, dreamed of in the deepest part of her soulless heart.
"Keep a close eye on him, Lust," the master went on, and Lust knew there was mocking in the woman's voice. "We'd hate for him to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor."
Lust only nodded, and once the master had left the chapel one more, she sat on the steps before the alter and eased the twitching new homunculus into her lap, stroking his knotted flesh and humming soft tunes she half-remembered from another life.
Lust took him out of the chapel as soon as he had legs with which to walk. He was silent and meek, his first steps wobbling and hesitant as he leaned against her shoulder. His skin was still slick and pink, bones moving beneath it in frightening clear patterns. But he was human-shaped now, and Lust eased him into the simple bed she had prepared with a soft sigh. He couldn't speak yet, but violet his eyes moved about the room in searching patterns. Even now, so early, she could see the intelligence behind them.
He would be powerful. There were no remains to weaken him, his body long gone without a trace. Lust threaded her fingers through his hair - two toned, even now, black upon white. Above his eyes, where once there had been the dead white skin of his trademark scar, was the spherical red symbol of the homunculus.
Greed. It was easy enough to call him that name. She had never known his name in life, and the former Greed had been a fleeting idea before his violent death. Lust perched on the edge of the bed and brushed back a bit of the black hair that clung in damp swaths to his forehead. She searched his face critically, seeking any hint of the man she had loved in Lior. There were traces, small and unremarkable, but they were there.
Give him time. Lust sighed and stroked the still-forming features of his cheeks, and he leaned into her touch. So new, so fresh, he would be what she made him to be. He belonged to her, not to her master. And she would mold him in the shape of his human self. She had no regrets over what she had done, felt no shame in throwing herself at her master's feet and begging for the scarred man to be returned to her. She had made a deal with the devil and she knew that. But it would be all right. Once he was whole, once he was strong, no alchemist in the world would hold power over them. The hateful woman who called herself their master would have no choice but to use the stone to make them human. And then they could be together. And even if something went wrong, even then, they were still together.
"Remember," she hissed, leaning close to him. "Remember Ishbal. Remember the fall of the desert city. Remember your brother. Remember me."
It was one word, spoken low and in harsh tones. It snapped Lust out of her reverie, and she turned her head to watch the man in the bed with lightening quickness. Before now he had made only small, wordless sounds. His eyes were open and he was looking at her, confusion and frustration creasing the porcelain white skin of his brow.
"What is it?" She reached for him, running her fingers over his cool skin. He was pale and cold, a corpse that spoke and breathed and thought.
"You," he repeated, closing his eyes as though in pain. "I remember…"
"I know." Lust ran her fingers through his hair. "Don't fight the memories." The master was not here to dismiss them, to smooth the lingering memories of life away into nothingness. Lust had made certain of that.
"Where am I? What is this…?"
"That doesn't matter." Lust shook her head. There was no time for that. The master would come by shortly, and Lust needed to know how much of him was left. "Tell me what you remember."
"The desert. Gunfire. You…."
"Good." She smiled, leaning over him and stroking his hair. That was enough. She could coax more memories from him. "Tell no one else, do you understand? Tell no one but me what it is you remember."
"I can't remember anything else…."
"I know. It's much too soon. You were dead, but I brought you back. But you have to remember. Remember Ishbal. Remember Lior."
He stared at her with uncomprehending eyes. She could see him struggling, trying to make sense of what she told him. Lust only smiled and pressed her lips to the oroborus upon his brow, as she had so longed to kiss his scar.
"You'll understand in time," she promised him, drawing back as she heard footsteps in the hallway outside. "Just try and remember."
"Lust? Attend to Gluttony, please." The master swept into the room, her small face upturned in superiority. "I'll take care of our new Greed, now that he's joined us among the living."
I don't doubt you will. But Lust nodded and withdrew, hoping that she had planted the seeds deeply enough that the master's words wouldn't wash them away.
It was days before Lust saw him again. She was sent forth once more to trail the Elrics, but she lost them in the maze of small farming towns that surrounded Central. She had no desire to find them, anyway, not yet. She had more work to do with Greed, to ensure that no matter happened, he would be as close as possible to the man she had followed and wanted for so long.
She returned to the citadel beneath Central, Gluttony on her heels. The portly sin was quiet and needy, sensing that Lust's attentions had been diverted from him to the newest member of their little family. She left him with Pride.
Despite the fact that Lust needed no sleep, she had a room just the same. They all did. Small touches of human life, desperate attempts to fill the void that consumed them. She spent her free time among heavy red velvet curtains and stately old furniture. She hated it all. But her mind was on things other than the cursed furnishings of the tower room that she had claimed as her own. She stood before the gilded mirror that hung on her wall, eyeing herself critically.
She saw him before she heard him, catching his reflection behind her. She stared into the depths of the mirror, half-afraid to turn. His broad shoulders were set firmly, tense beneath the black leather shirt he now wore. His eyes were narrowed, his lips were turned down in an all-too-familiar scowl. Even as pale and inhuman as he now looked, he was still Scar.
"Our Master sent me to you," he said, and Lust finally turned. She hated those words from his lips.
"Did she?" Lust raised her eyebrows. "Would you have sought me out on your own, I wonder?"
He didn't answer her. Lust read the lines of his body to glean some hint from him, but found nothing but traces of his humanity. His pose was rebellious, his eyes were angry and violent, and even now the white skin and black leather couldn't erase the savage strength that the desert had marked him with. Lust moved towards him, drawn as though by a string. He remained still as she approached, wary as a wild thing. As wary of her as he had always been.
"And do you still remember me?" she asked, pausing before him. He only nodded, a tense jerk of his head. Lust reached out to him, feeling as though she were in a dream. He was here, standing before her, flesh and blood and bone. And he was unresisting as she put her arms around him and pressed her lips to cold, dead skin. She kissed him fiercely, as though she could draw from him his memories with her lips. His arms went around her in a crushing grip, pulling her flush against his hard body. He was cold as glass at first, so different from when his skin had burned beneath her touch. She molded herself to him, her hands clinging to his shoulders.
Perhaps this was the only way she could have him; entwined together in sin and half-life. He held her to him brutally, as though he were worried that she would slip away. She imagined that she could still feel the burn of his sun-kissed skin.
"Remember," she urged, breaking their kiss and burying her face against his leather-clad shoulder. "You have to remember!" The same words he had once given to her, in the empty streets of Lior. She pressed her lips to his neck, tasting ice and fire.
"I do remember," he hissed angrily, and his arms tightened about her with a painful desperation. And something inside of Lust twisted and broke, and she sank bonelessly against him. Now she felt guilt. Now she felt regret. She had been selfish and childish, and as foolish as every alchemist she had ever chided for daring to commit the greatest taboo. It spiraled through her like a blade, ripping her inside. What had she done?
"I'm…sorry." She choked the words out through anger and remorse, but still she held on to him, even now unwilling to let him go. She wanted him still.
He laughed. It was a bitter, cruel sound. He gripped her shoulders and pulled her away, forcing her to look at him. She watched his eyes, violet and cat slitted, and there was something familiar there. Something that called back to the man she had fallen in love with, the man she had risked everything for. The man who she had doomed to this pathetic shadow of humanity.
"Don't," he told her roughly, a harsh order that surprised her. His hand came up to cup her cheek, a gentle gesture that starkly contrasted his cruel words. "Don't be sorry," he went on, fingers curling against her cheek savagely. "It's nothing more than I deserve."