Author notes: This story assumes that readers know what happens in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga (or the 2009 anime version, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood). I refer to Envy as "it" in the narration. This story is for non-commercial entertainment purposes only. Fullmetal Alchemist and the characters from it belong to Hiromu Arakawa.
Edward Elric held the tiny parasitic Envy inside his automail hand. Scar stood next to him, and a couple of metres away were Colonel Roy Mustang and First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye. He was sitting quietly on the floor of the maintenance tunnel and she was keeping her rifle ready.
With its mind blown, Envy quivered at seeing the four of them unaffected by its words. In what kind of world could they work together?
"Envy, you..." started Ed. "You're envious of humans. We are so much more fragile than you homunculi, but even when we're down, beaten and the situation seems hopeless, we just get up again. And if we can't, our friends help us up."
Envy stared at him with one of its unproportionally huge eyes. He looked like something between inconvenienced and sad. It could have been an expression of pity. Envy hated seeing it and wanted it to stop immediately.
"You can never have that, and it's made you envious of us," added Ed.
Envy stayed completely still and yet boiled inside. The pint-sized brat had figured out its problem and spelled it out. If there was something more humiliating than this, Envy would never want to hear it. It wanted to deny him. "Who says I can't have that?" it screamed violently.
"That mirror would've been handy, truly," remarked Ed, and to Envy's relief, his expression and tone turned angrier. "It's literally in your name. Why in heck would your Father create creatures that embody the cardinal sins of humanity, doomed forever to be trapped within their worst emotions? What did he try to accomplish by making you homunculi? Did HE want a family or friends? Does he even treat you like family or does he just use you and throw you away if he thinks you're not good enough?"
Envy stopped everything momentarily as Ed's questions hit its mind. It thought hard and could not find a reason why Father had given it such hideous emotions and form. Did that mean that the homunculi were just leftover scum of his Philosopher's Stone and that their only purpose was to be used? Of course, he did replenish their stones occasionally, but that might have been because it was more convenient to keep the old one if it was not completely destroyed yet. Envy's concentration loosened for a while, but as it looked at Mustang and remembered what had happened to Lust, other thoughts hit it. Lust had not been revenged, and both Wrath and Father had deemed it unnecessary. The Flame Alchemist might have been too important to be killed, but why could they have not killed at least some of his friends? Why had they killed other insignificant humans before, but not that time? Did Father not care about Lust? He had not even created another Lust. Did he intend to get rid of the rest of the homunculi as well after his plan had succeeded? Envy boiled. There was not much, if any, evidence for Father's love. "Ahhh!" it screamed in frustration and squirmed inside Ed's hand. "You pipsqueak!" Offended, Ed bared his teeth, growled and squeezed Envy. "Ow! Hurts!"
"Maggot! Did you finally realise he doesn't give a darn about you lot?" shouted Ed. "You asked if 'you can't have that', so apparently you don't have it now, do you?" Envy quivered, staring at the hand that held it with resentful defiance. "Thought so! And how about the rest of your so-called family? Did you know that Pride just ATE Gluttony to gain his sense of smell?"
"He what?" Envy shook even more. "That little prick!" Yet, eating Gluttony was pretty much exactly what Pride would and could do.
"Even Greeng defected the lot of you – again! Greed, I mean."
Envy would not hear such nonsense. It would prove that it was better than the humans, instead of being just different, with different strengths and weaknesses. Weaker it was not, that much was obvious in its opinion. "You'll see, I will have what you have!"
"You won't. This has gone on long enough," said Hawkeye and aimed her rifle at Ed's feet, on a spot that was directly below Ed's right fist. "Drop him and I'll finish this."
Envy felt the mortal danger sting its little form. A moment ago it had felt like killing itself, but now it had realised that it could still try to do something to be better than these disgusting humans. It could even be better than Father. "No!" it shouted. It was the first time Envy truly and honestly asked to be spared, even if indirectly. Ed had not even started letting go.
"No? As if," remarked Scar. Envy glared at him and shook.
"Edward...?" said Hawkeye expectantly.
Ed looked first at Hawkeye and then at Envy. He loosened his grip very slightly, not even noticeably yet. Envy pulled nearly its whole body inside his fist. Ed's expression grew more and more serious until he cracked a weak half-smile. "What can you give us in exchange for your life?"
"Fullmetal, WHAT?" shouted Mustang suddenly and stood up, his hand rising up to aim. Both Scar and Hawkeye stared at Ed intently. They agreed with Mustang.
Ed smirked more visibly now. "Our three parties overcame our differences, and there's also Greed. Who's to say we can't add him? Provided he CAN present us with something that will earn our trust. And that's going to be A LOT, you little psychopath!" he snapped at Envy.
Envy opened one of its big eyes and stared at Ed from inside his fist. His reaction told it that it might just survive this. All it had to do was to convince them to let it live now. "...What do you want to know?"
"How can we ruin your Father's plans?"
Envy pushed its head out of Ed's fist. It was not quite ready to directly betray Father yet. Watching Mustang, it realised Father still needed the fifth sacrifice. "The best way would be to destroy the underground circle, but it's well made, Pride is guarding it and you're almost out of time. Also, on the way to Father's room, near the room with all those the legless lesser homunculi, there's a room where a doctor waits, with the surviving führer candidates. Father needs the fifth sacrifice, so make sure he won't force Mustang to perform human transmutation."
"Ha, he's not going to do that," said Edward dismissively.
"Not even to save his girlfr– – 'dearest subordinate', was it?" Mustang's face turned dim again. "Well, I've warned you now!" it said, well aware that its warning was really an indirect invitation that would lead Mustang to the place where Father could force him to perform the transmutation if he would not do it on his own.
"Don't try to think that's enough! What are these führer candidates?"
"They're quite a lot like the Führer himself. Elite soldiers with Philosopher's Stone in them. You've heard how Brat Bradley was made, right?"
"Right... How is he going to exactly 'use' us as his sacrifices?"
"He needs direct access to your Gates. Past that, it's an alchemical transmutation, and I'm not an alchemist so I can't say anything about that. He needs you all with him and I know he can yank you in from wherever you are, so you can't stop that except by leaving the country, and it's far too late for that. Or killing yourself."
Ed looked annoyed. "Darnit... Hey, you're not able to possess your Father, are you?" Envy glared at the boy as if he had said that he will turn the whole planet's inhabitants into Philosopher's Stone. Scar, Mustang and Hawkeye had similar expressions.
"Don't be ridiculous!" said Envy agitatedly. "I was a part of him and he would just absorb me right back into him to add some more to his power! Maybe if I had a Philosopher's Stone more powerful than him... But that would be even more ridiculous."
For a split second, Edward actually considered feeding Envy his own father of a Philosopher's Stone, but even the old man was more reliable than this little parasite, hands down, and probably more effective against Father too.
Envy knew that it was heading into a dead-end, so it addressed the issue of its usefulness itself, before the others voiced more questions. "Okay, so I might not be very useful to you right now, but I'm not dangerous either. You can find a use for me later."
"And in the meantime we'll just let you go? Even I'm not that idealistically naïve!"
"Geez, look around yourself. There's nothing here. It's impossible to get anywhere since all ways out are either down where there's water, or up where I can't go because I'm too small to reach the climbing steps!" Edward grinned rather triumphantly when he heard Envy call itself small. He felt tall and mighty. "The only option is to wander right here where you can leave me until you come to get me again."
"What use is a little larva of a homunculus? You'd be executed for your murders anyway," commented Scar.
"Oh yeah? Just like you! And you! And you!" snapped Envy, pointing at Scar, Mustang and Hawkeye each in turn. "I'm sure the dead state alchemists and Ishvalans would agree!" Mustang twitched again, but Hawkeye grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back slightly. "Or will you be let off the hook if you win, just for being winners? You get a second chance. Why shouldn't I?"
"Second chance at killing us and creating more inhumane mayhem?" gritted Mustang.
Envy was quiet for a moment. The truth was that its first goal would be to kill them, but it would need to say something else. Still, it would not stoop so down as to lick their shoes with truly transparent lies. "Why, that would certainly be satisfying. But don't you think it would be detrimental for my attempt to have some true friendship and trust?"
"You can't seriously think you're capable of that." Mustang's tone was callous.
"Well if you kill me, you'll never know! I'll show you!" shouted Envy. "Are you trying to create mutual trust by being unnecessarily cruel here, or what? Besides, I might have murdered your friend, but you murdered mine. Doesn't that make us even, even if either of us will never forget that?"
"You? You had a friend? 'Friend'?" scoffed Mustang coldly and was certainly not amused in any way.
Envy flailed its little limbs and glared daggers at Mustang. "Don't tell me you don't remember her! You burned her to death, just like you were going to burn me! Lust!" Mustang stared at Envy with marginally disgusted surprise.
"You ...actually cared for Lust?" said Ed.
Envy felt incredibly uneasy about the situation. This would be the first time for it to directly admit that it had really appreciated Lust in a certain kind of way. It saw how the admission would alter the humans' opinion of it. "Yes!" it shouted angrily. Even though it was logical to answer with the truth in this case, Envy would not have wanted to reveal that it had such emotions. Then again, that emotion was probably just what inspired friendship and trust in humans. Could it really work for homunculi as well? Envy would have liked to think that it was above such feelings but just was not sure right now. The feeling remained and just made it angry at Mustang again. "You pyromaniac murderer! Taking away my friend!" it hissed and twitched. Ed squeezed it again. "Ow, hurts!"
Mustang spoke partly over both Envy and Ed, pointing at Envy with his hand again. "Liar! Pretender! Don't talk about your homunculus partner in crime as if she was your 'friend'. You monsters can't have friends, it's just deceit." He twitched, Envy took more cover inside Ed's hand again, and Ed actually moved his hand off from the Colonel's aim, even if Mustang just moved his own hand to keep the aim.
"Colonel, you calm down!" said Ed. Hawkeye still held onto Mustang's shoulder but did not pull him in one direction or another. "You might be wrong, anyhow. Gluttony was massively upset about Lust's death, if you don't remember. That was pretty much why he swallowed me back then."
"Unbelievable," mumbled Mustang as he stared at Edward with his nearly murderous eyes.
"And another point is that there really is nothing here that Envy could use to become a threat to us," said Ed, but turned to look at Envy inquiringly again. "Or is there?"
Something that even Envy knew was a beneficial trait was its ability to get over its feelings quickly, at least in some cases. "No. This part is so low that there's nothing but sewer down here." It paused. "And rats. Okay, rats, not much of an improvement upon this form. I still couldn't reach the steps unless I found a giant rat."
Scar was already envisioning Envy as a shaggy rat and liked the sight.
Ed looked sternly at Envy. "You know what, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt."
Mustang's arm shook as he glared at the little parasite. "You can't be serious...!" He gave a glance at Scar.
Scar was not happy with Edward's words. Nevertheless, he did not seem like he would deny Ed his act of mercy. "I think letting him live is foolish." Scar turned to look at Ed. "But if you really think he can be of some use, have it your way. He's harmless enough now."
Mustang stared at Scar with his mouth partially open. He turned to look at Hawkeye who was not aiming with her rifle but did hold it at the ready.
Hawkeye did not look like she agreed with Edward either. "I do hope your kindness doesn't cost our lives." She lifted the rifle into a carrying position over her shoulder. She turned to face Mustang and saw how intently and bewilderedly Mustang was looking at her now. "Sir? I think we all know that thing deserves death, but wouldn't it be good if we can use him for our purposes before that?" Mustang was quiet now and looked at the floor. "Let's leave him here. Edward, could you make a some kind of cage for him so that he won't escape?"
"Good idea, First Lieutenant. Here, Scar, hold him. In your right hand." Edward gave Envy to Scar who held it by the tail.
Envy was about to start boiling again. It did not want to be stuck in a cage. It needed to find more mannequin soldiers to replenish its Philosopher's Stone. Edward clapped his hands together and was about the touch the floor.
"Not on the floor! If this tunnel is flooded, I'll drown!"
Ed gave Envy a sideways glance. "You're worrying about that? If this tunnel is flooded, it won't matter if you're on the ceiling! Though, an air bubble would work... fine." Ed slapped the tunnel wall next to him and a semi-circular mound appeared on it, with a tiny hole near the bottom and a bigger one at the top. "Drop him in and I'll seal it." Scar stuffed Envy inside the little prison.
"Aah! Don't put me in there! ...You better not forget me here!" it shouted as it dropped to the bottom of the small enclosure.
Edward sealed the enclosure's top. "Hmm, I guess we need some way to find back here..."
"...Are you KIDDING me?" shouted Envy from inside its prison. "Just follow the burn marks! And if that's not enough, those blasted Xingese morons can just pinpoint me!"
"Well I guess that settles that," remarked Ed. "Let's go."
The four headed back. They did not completely retrace their path since they had not walked through the tunnels in a straightforward fashion.
"Edward, are you sure about letting that thing live?" asked Hawkeye once they were out of Envy's earshot.
Scar spoke before Ed had a chance to reply. "I think he should die for the crimes he committed."
Ed gave Hawkeye a glance. "Not really. But I don't like killing anyone and he's not going to go anywhere from there."
"If we're going to get this handled in a justified manner, he'll end up in front of a firing squad anyway," said Hawkeye.
"And you three won't?"
"Why are you trying to use his flawed logic to us?" snapped Mustang.
"The truth is that history is written by the victors. We need to keep this country from collapsing, and executing us won't help with that," continued Hawkeye.
"Are you saying we should make Envy confess and then execute the helpless tiny worm? That would just look bad," said Ed.
"What other use could that ugly maggot be?" asked Scar.
"I don't know, maybe he can search for survivors in ruins or something."
"You seriously think he will do that?"
"No, but I guess he'll have to if he wants to survive. Will you shut up about this already, we have more important things to worry about than thinking up possible uses for a useless homunculus right now!"