The Shape of the Son

The old bitch Lust calls him “Father” out of respect; she has watched him at work, and knows the extent of his power. Gluttony, as always, is Lust’s devoted pet and echoes everything she says. Sloth calls him their master, and Envy remembers a time when that word meant “husband” as well.

Perhaps she does it on purpose, while she holds his greatest favor in that form, but he is led to believe that when they are born anew, they do not have the memories of the shell they are provided. He cannot say this with firsthand authority: he alone has never been provided with the opportunity to change. He is supposed to be the perfect child of their “father,” his body made to continually replace itself, as he sees fit.

Envy does not believe this, not since he was betrayed and the next one to follow him was given a fallible, fragile body. He has not believed since this Sloth came to them, with one particular woman’s face and voice. He hates her on that principle, though Sloth itself, the being in the woman-husk, he does not mind so much.

It is late, and the night-shadows are growing thick and heavy. Gluttony has eaten most of the military uniforms they disguised themselves with, much to Lust’s displeasure. Envy still has one hat, and he twirls it on one finger, watching dusk approach.

He can sense that man approaching him, though his boots make no sound on the stone.

Something tingles in his belly, rising into his throat and tasting of metal and brightness. Anticipation, he thinks, which in itself is a bitter pill. Before he can be spoken to, he stands and shifts, arranges his face and form into something new.

Breasts are no stranger than to him than different hair, shining soft and brown, pulled over her shoulder in a loose tail. She folds her hands demurely before her and lets her eyes drop to the ground.

Feet come into her line of vision and stop. Envy does not look up until long square fingers cup her chin, tilting it so that man is looking straight down at her. His eyes burn with such strange golden fire, and she leans towards it, seduced anew by the warmth that seems to be promised there. The light brush of his hand burns in her skin.

Tonight he is considering her, weighing every detail of this face. Obediently she waits, and closes her eyes when he kisses her, soft and lingering. The beard is rough against her lips.

And then he lets go, stepping away from her. She blinks her eyes open and looks at him in confusion. This is the form he likes best, doe-eyed and easily manipulated, soft to his touch. Sloth may have the woman’s face, but she is not an actor like Envy, and cannot go against her actual self to fit the body she wears.

“Something else tonight, I think,” he says, eyes gleaming as he strokes Envy’s cheek. Envy blinks at him, opaque, feminine. She knows that look, and hates it more than any other–but she is helpless against it, unable to fight or even look away as he smiles at her, and purrs:

“Let me see my son.”

Mute, she continues to stare at him, even as her body shifts–shorter now, with broader shoulders and soft brown hair melting into rich gold. That man watches avidly the whole time as she becomes he, but does not touch until the transformation is completed. Envy is careful not to move when an index finger traces his mouth–flinching is not appreciated.

Then hands rise to his shoulders and push down, firmly. For a moment he wants to resist, but then his knees betray him, buckling him to the ground. One broad hand cups the curve of his skull. Quiet, he waits; this is not something he is allowed to presume or take lead in, even if his pathway seems obvious.

Fingers bury deeply in his hair and tug him forward. Envy leans easily and lifts his hands. The automail feels heavy and awkward, like it always does, and his fingers are clumsy on the fastenings of that man’s pants. He thinks, briefly, that the Fullmetal brat must be very good with his engineered fingers, better than Envy can ever hope to be–and then the buttons are open and the flaps gape open, with enough room for him to reach smoothly inside.

It’s fast and slow, the span of lifetimes in a handful of age long heartbeats. That man does not move or make a sound, only waits and breaths hard through his nose, and so Envy does both for him, bobbing his head until he is lost in the rhythm. The taste is sharp in the back of his throat, salt in open wounds.

And suddenly it’s over, fingers bruisingly tight in his hair before relaxing. Envy keeps from choking simply because he’s had practice. He holds himself very still, with his mouth rounded in a seal, the Ouroborous in miniature, and waits.

There’s a sigh, which he feels reaching to the pit of his own stomach, before he’s urged back. Fingers skitter down the side of his face, almost gentle; he’s careful not to look up. If there is any fault in his form, it will be in the eyes, and he does not want to see affection for someone else in those golden eyes.

He’s given less than a minute, and then fingers wrap around the long fall of his bangs and yank. Envy covers the wince by redoing that man’s pants, fingers careful on sensitive flesh as he works. When he finishes, he backs up and bows his head again, ready to wait; the aftertaste lingers bitterly on his tongue, on each breath. It’s sour, like old milk, like thin beer, and he knows that hours from now, the taste will still be there, compounded flavors. If he breathes too hard, he can remember the first time he knelt and opened his mouth for this man.

All he has to do is wait, he thinks, and then it will be over. As long as he’s properly submissive, as long as he doesn’t quite look that man in the eye, he’ll be fine. The bastard likes having the proper respect due to him, and Envy is not, at this moment, being asked to meet his eyes.

A rough thumb presses to the center of his lips. Instinctively, he parts his lips, but it only touches briefly at his teeth before pulling back. Envy raises his eyes up to the proud sharp line of that man’s nose, and stares at that as he tries to calm his breathing.

He sees that man smile, so smugly satisfied in makes his teeth itch. He holds very still as that broad palm strokes the side of his face, then settles at the base of his throat. Broad fingers curl, and Envy makes himself not swallow, still watching that man’s cheek rather than his eyes. This borrowed form feels too stiff and awkward, and he wants to be rid of it soon; the Fullmetal brat’s body is too different form his own, too similar to this man’s.

“Good boy, Edward,” he hears that man say, a moment before bearded lips touch his forehead, as though in blessing. Envy feels the name burned into his skin by that mouth, this name that is not his, this name that cannot be his, no matter how many years he spends pretending he’s the Fullmetal brat for this man’s amusement. “I love you, son.”

The words seize in his throat; he doesn’t want to answer. But this is still part of the scenario; he will not be left alone until he says–“I love you too. Father.”

Again, the hand strokes his face, callused fingers so terribly gentle. They trace the line of his jaw, the curve of his cheek, and someone far stupider than Envy could mistake this for gentleness. He forces himself to keep his eyes open, staring without seeing, waiting as hair is tucked behind his ear and that hand falls.

“Get some sleep,” that man says, always so fucking solicitous, as though he cares. “You have a lot of work to do tomorrow.”

Envy listens to the sound of his footsteps walking away, waits until even the echoes fade away, and he’s left completely in silence. Only then does he relax, letting his body blur itself until he is himself again–or as close to himself as he can remember. There are times he truly believes he was born with a different shape, a different voice–but the bastard tells him nothing, so he’s only left to guess.

He walks back to the window, where he sat before, leans over the edge, and sticks a finger down his throat until he vomits, bitterness and bile flung out into the unsuspecting night. When it’s over, he remains leaning over the edge, spitting weakly, though the taste is still there, biting deep in his throat, and all the water and wine in the world will not wash that bitterness away.

The breeze is cold on his face, and he closes his eyes. He can sense Lust standing behind him, saying nothing, but radiating cool disapproval. He sits up, scrubs at his mouth and chin, and turns to her.

It’s ironic, he thinks, in a bubble of madness, that she can be so named and yet, her honored “Father” has never, to his knowledge, laid a hand on her. That’s fine, though; Envy knows he’d have to try and kill her if it was otherwise, and he likes this new Lust, much better than the old one.

“One of the Flame Colonel’s little lapdogs is getting too close,” she says. “He’s apparently been given permission to investigate ‘military corruption,’ as it pertains to the Fifth Laboratory.”

“Heh,” he says. “Let Sloth take care of it.”

“She will. However,” and Lust’s eyes narrow, “you are still part of her plan. He’ll likely ask around about Doctor Marcoh’s location, and we will need to see exactly how much he knows, at that point.”

Envy pretends to consider this, then pushes himself to a standing position. If Lust notices how weak his knees are, how he continues to lean against the wall for support, she says nothing.

“All right,” he says. “Since my help seems so necessary, I’ll help you put that little yapping dog to sleep.”

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