Chapter Title: Types of People.
Pairing(s): Edward Elric/Envy; nods to Roy Mustang/Alphonse Elric and Edward Elric/Alfons Heiderich; one-sided/platonic Russell Tringham/Edward Elric
Beta: Sacralgral beta'd this, she's the love.
Rating: PG-13, this chapter. R, overall (Uncensored version will be post at my LJ).
Genre: Angst, Romance.
Warnings: Post anime, more or less consistent with movie canon, violence, gore.
Feedback: Very welcome, please!
Word Count: +/- 1 680.
Summary: This is not what they need. This is not what they want. This is what they have, to build up something from ashes of their dreams.
Author's Notes: My birthday comes in March 24th coughHINTcough, and this is my birthday present, from myself to myself. But since I know it'll take a while to finish it – plot fic's always like that – I'm starting early and hoping to God I'll be able to finish on time. That'd be sad, wouldn't it? That my own birthday present was finished late? Though knowing, myself I wouldn't be surprised. This is, by the way, the Kindness AU I hinted at in the 100 sentences. Unlike my other works, this is an open sandbox. If you like the idea and feel like it, you're welcome to mess with the universe once this story is over, I really don't mind.
Pieces of a Dream.
Types of People.
"There're two types of people;
the ones that like to sleep to the wall's side
and the ones that like to sleep to the side
they're gonna get kicked off the bed from."
-- Etgar Keret, "Missing Kissinger."
Homunculi do not dream. Dreaming requires hope and desires that spring directly from a soul which they don't have. Dreaming is, then, yet another thing Homunculi despise simply because they cannot achieve it. Dreams are for humans, another tool to manipulate them with, to force them to see and feel and do as they are needed to. Dreams are a weakness no self conscious Homunculus would ever admit to.
Envy was the oldest, though not the wisest of his kind. He had existed – existed and not lived, for living would have required him to acknowledge the fact he was alive – from the beginning of the Homunculi Era. He was Dante's prized possession, her finest work of art. He was Hohenheim's eternal tormentor, a constant reminder of his failures as an alchemist, a human and a father. Envy was a thing and a feeling, a servant and a tool, but never quite his own person – his own person having died all too long ago for the idea to hold merit. He was fine with that, though, to serve and be used, so as long as he was allowed to want. He had many wants he never told anyone about and many others he shouted for the world to hear. He wanted revenge and violence, death and amusement.
He hadn't known that Want is the first step towards Desire, which is the first step towards Humanity, which is something he most certainly did not want.
He came to desire things, despite it all, despite his lack of soul and despite his ignorance regarding the nature of desire – he wasn't Lust, after all, who knew it all about Desire – and that would in turn be the cause of his disgrace. His desires grew to the point they overwhelmed his want to serve and be used, draining patience he didn't have and morphing into obsession. Obsession, in the end, is simply a desire gone awry, something so dearly wanted it's impossible to reach. An obsession so strong, Envy's vision blurred, his goals twisted and he found himself walking through the tall archway of the Gate, leaving Dante and Edward and the world behind.
Let them fight their petty fights, he had thought, crossing the threshold of Reality itself, let them play their games, I'm just getting what's mine. What I deserve.
Envy had been Human – had never forgotten what and who he had been before, though no one else had to know about it – and he had been Immortal. He had been a Dragon and a Sacrifice. Envy had seen this world and the other world and the world between the worlds, all the while chasing after something he couldn't catch – an obsession is self-sustained; if he obsessed over something that was within his limits, what would be the point of it? Envy had been all of those, had survived being all of those.
Thus he, alone among his kind, dreamed.
Edward hadn't known what had made him do it. Or maybe he did, but he wasn't desperate enough to try and figure it out. The fact remained that Envy was lying on his bed, unconscious, and he had no clue what to do about it. The events that had led to this startling situation had become a blur that he couldn't really keep up with, culminating with a selfless act of kindness that had come out of nowhere. When he had found Envy – truly through a most unexpected chain of circumstances – the Homunculus had been unconscious already. Weakened and half dead, had Ed wanted to, he could have neatly destroyed Envy and erased the last of Dante's taint in the world. It could have been easy, too, considering Ed was in good health, surely strong enough to finish off his perpetual struggle with the Sin.
But he hadn't, and now Envy was lying in the guest bedroom's bed, grinding Ed's mind to dust just by continuing to exist.
His little cottage in a small village south of Central was nothing out of the ordinary, but it had always felt empty somehow, too wide and too open for a single person to live there, despite the fact it had barely enough space for Ed to not feel caged. It wasn't a perfect life, Ed admitted, the one he lead out here on his own, but it was his. He didn't belong to the military because technically, he was dead for them. He didn't belong to Rizembul because Winry had gotten married while Ed chased after dreams and hopes, doing the right thing for everyone but himself. He didn't belong to Central, with Al, because Al was quite, quite content with shagging Mustang of all people, and Ed wasn't bored enough to try and open that particular can of worms.
So yes, he might be lonely, but he lived in a lovely place with lovely people that didn't ask many questions. And yes, he missed Al dearly, but it was for the best if he kept to himself and tried not to ruin his brother's life again.
By the point Envy had landed in his life – more accurately, in the back alley of his neighbors' home – Ed had decided he had done all he had been born to do. He was whole now, no longer depending on automail to move and feel human, and Al was back to normal, flesh and blood as he had always been meant to be; all his misadventures had ended like he had always hoped they would, fine. Except for the fatigue that had settled deep into his bones, draining his will bit by bit, and which had eventually led him to disappear from public eye.
After all, the Fullmetal Alchemist had died all those years ago, in the ruins below Central, and even if he had survived, Ed Heiderich shared only a passing resemblance to the hero of Amestris. He didn't attract any attention, people passed him on the street without a second thought and his evasive nature allowed him to keep the whole town at arm's length. He was invisible, living peacefully in a tranquil town away from the blur of politics and military and whatever had made his life interesting when he was a teenager.
And then Envy had appeared.
Ed took a moment to look at the feverish homunculus, the waxen tone of his skin, even his hair, usually so wild and vibrant, seemed subdued, falling limply on the pillow. Ed wondered what Envy would bring into his life, what had stopped him from finishing off the homunculus when he had had the chance.
Maybe it was the inherent memory of the silvery blond that sneered at him moments before he died – he was killed – or maybe it was simply that he was lonely.
He still had the chance… Ed killed that train thought before it could become solid and simply cleaned the Sin's forehead with a wet rag, noting with a pang of something that the pale skin was burning up. He wasn't worried about Envy – this was about Envy after all – but he did feel a little tingle running over his nerves every time his eyes drifted over the unmoving frame on the bed.
Al had always said loneliness was the cause of many a disaster, after all.
"How's your friend doing, Mr. Heiderich?"
"Do you need anything extra for your friend, Mr. Heiderich?"
"Oh, allow me! I've just got the thing, it came over this morning from Central. I'm sure it'll help your friend, Mr. Heiderich."
"You look pensive, Mr. Heiderich, is your friend getting worse?"
Ed had always been loved. Always. By his mother, by his brother, even by the men at the military. After his disastrous stay in Europe, he'd learned two things better than anything else; that his father, bastard that he was, still loved him, and that Alfons Heiderich, for all his sickness and his weariness, loved him as no one had ever loved him before.
After his blond friend died, Ed realized he too had loved him in ways he hadn't loved anyone else.
It might have been all that love, all that faith in him, what had made him choose to fade away into a small town, to let the Fullmetal legend grow into folklore with the added tragedy of an early death. People loved him and Ed touched their lives in the smallest ways, ways no one ever bothered to, simply because it was the way he was. The light inside him always burst through, reflecting itself in the eyes of those around him, in their smiles and their caring gestures.
Even now, Edward Heiderich, the reclusive young man who lived in the outskirts of Ruath and very rarely allowed himself to be seen, was treated kindly by all who had met him, however briefly. It was a mystery he couldn't figure out on his own, not even with the help of Russell's sarcastic, biting letters.
Ed couldn't understand that he was meant to be loved, because he knew he was also meant to suffer tragedy after tragedy in his attempts to fix up the world.
Walking back into his little cottage, Ed shrugged off the strange weight on his shoulders and directly moved to the guest room in which he had left Envy. Placing the bag with his purchases on the nightstand, Ed found the homunculus to be in the same state as he had left him in: unconscious and deep within delirium.
There was something intrinsically wrong with seeing Envy twisting all over the bed, bathed in cold sweat and muttering little words and curses as he continued to fight off whatever nightmare had grasped him so tightly. With a mournful laugh, Ed admitted he wasn't a sadist, then promptly went about cleaning the translucent skin, rubbing the sweat away with lukewarm water and mechanical movements that were doomed to fail at keeping him emotionally unattached.
It wasn't that he liked Envy – they had killed each other – but that he was lonely.
So terribly lonely.
He wondered when Russell's next letter was due to come.