Keeping the prince broke the fine balance between superhuman and human, toed the line in a way that made Envy's skin crawl. Human, Greed was practically human, practically a decaying mass of stringy meat and fascia and carefully placed masses of functioning tissue, and he'd expire for that, he'd drop dead one day and Envy could only be so lucky if he could be standing right there watching, an I told you so waiting for the last breath.
"Envy, take care of your new brother." Father's face was impassive, body curved, decrepit, over the chair.
Envy was obligated to agree, but he seethed all the same. The job could have been put on anyone. Pride would have been more than thrilled to show their new sibling just how things ought to be done (just the way he wanted things done) and Gluttony would have tagged along behind them, still lost in Lust's death, all through the lair, a demented parade of the worst sorts of monsters.
Envy rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, watching Father's sleeping face. Greed stood opposite, back to Envy, and wasn't he just brave? Giving his big brother his back like Envy didn't even matter.
The old Greed would never have been so careless. The old Greed always had one eye out for Envy. They had a game, and they played it so well, moved around each other with their strings never crossing, no knots, no mistakes, and they never died. Greed, before this Greed, had been so far from human that Envy—
He could stand looking at him, at least.
Greed, new Greed, looked over his shoulder when Envy's foot hit the ground, echoed heavy in the high ceilinged room. "Don't wake Father," Greed said. His voice sounded the same: gravelly, low.
"Leave Father for now," Envy said, creeping over the cords extending from their father to his life force. "I promised I'd show you around."
"He's fine." Envy was against Greed's back, hands splayed over the muscles, feeling them jump under his palms. "He's always fine. No one can touch Father."
"Get your hands off me," Greed demanded, voice gruff. He didn't move, though, and Envy saw no reason to comply, slid his hands around and ran them over the smooth plane of Greed's stomach.
"Don't be so cold, brother," Envy purred. Greed was new, that was all. Greed was just too new and didn't know how things should be. Envy could clean the human out of him, fix him where he couldn't fix the old Greed.
A fleeting moment of satisfaction before Greed knocked his hands away and took a step, pushing space between them like he was gasping for air. When he looked at Envy, dead in the eyes, and said, "I wouldn't touch you if you were the last damn corpse on the planet, sibling of mine," Envy could see the humanity in them, clear as day.
Disgusting, absolutely disgusting, but Envy had to swallow down the bile and smile back at his brother, feeling his lips twist into a deranged curve. "Too bad," Envy said. "You'd never have said no before." He sighed. Greed frowned, his eyes narrowing.
"I've never touched you."
"How would you know?" Envy asked. "You're just a recycled soul. You have no idea what you've done." Greed looked at him speculatively but before he could spit out whatever vitriol brewed behind those vacant eyes, Envy pressed on. "But I know what you've done."
Sometimes, distinguishing between the homunculi was hard, especially new homunculi and old homunculi. Greed didn't have to be anything like his predecessor, but it wasn't like the shithead knew that. He probably thought he was just a copy, or an amnesiac, or something stupidly human like that. Envy pushed into his brother's personal space until they were breathing the same breath, eyes half-mast and fluttering up at Greed. "I kept my eye on you, little brother."
Greed's face twisted and he shoved out, but Envy dug his nails into Greed's arms and kept as close as he could, pressing their chests together and grinning manically. "You and I, we kept in touch," he continued. "Even when you were gone, we were never really apart."
A lie, of course, but he didn't know that. Greed just stared at him with that stupid human face and those slanted eyes and Envy could barely keep the smile on his face for all that he could see the prince lurking just behind Greed's eyes.
Greed pushed his palm flat against Envy's chest and gave a shove, casting a glance back at the old man. "All right," he said, looking back at Envy. "Show me around."
Envy reached up and patted Greed's face, digging the long jagged nail of his thumb into the pale skin and tearing it when he pulled his hand away, watching the cut blossom red. "Don't worry," he said, smearing the line to the corner of Greed's slanted eyes. "I'll take good care of you."
The cut, of course, disappeared under the gentle kneading of Envy's thumb into Greed's cheek, just as it should, just as human flesh would never allow.
Greed was suddenly less careless around Envy, which was all good and well, but Envy needed an opening, needed the perfect moment to stick his claws in Greed and rip the prince out. He'd shown Greed around, and Greed, not ten minutes later, took off to who knew where and didn't show his face for two days. When he did finally see Envy, he looked—there was no easy way to describe it, but Envy could tell he was conflicted, could see the small nods and sighs and knew that the prince was speaking to Greed.
Sick, sick, sick.
It was sick, and Envy couldn't get the idea of it out of his mind, of the prince inside Greed, like a disease, spreading in his head and in his body until Greed wouldn't be Greed anymore, wouldn't be Envy's brother or Father's newest child or even a homunculus. He'd just be human.
So it was. When Father asked him to carry out a task, something small, Envy saw the opportunity and grabbed it. "Greed," he'd said carefully, "would do well to help me, don't you think?"
Father wasn't fooled. He could see inside Envy's head like nothing, but even still, he'd agreed. He understood a liability when he saw one, and Greed's attachment was a liability and then some.
"I'm supposed to be guarding Father." Greed complained nonstop. "I have a job to do, the hell am I following your ugly ass around for?"
Ugly, that rankled Envy. "If this form isn't to your liking, I can always change," he said slyly, a flash and a bare second later and the Xing girl was walking beside Greed, the one Wrath had sliced up. Envy made her whole again, and it was worth it, wearing human skin, just for the look on Greed's face, disturbed and angry and wanting. "Better?" Envy asked with a touch a rancor. "Or is this one no good?" Flash, shift, and he was blond and snake-like, remnant of his brother before.
They were in the middle of Central, just standing on top of some building, Father's task the farthest thing from Envy's mind. Martel, the girl had been named.
Greed's face, narrow eyes and wide mouth and all, twisted into something wholly unrecognizable and his brother looked at him like Envy just ripped the world from underneath him and said, "Why do I know her?" in this lost, sad voice.
Envy laughed poison and answered, "You're awfully picky, brother of mine. All right then, how about this?" Shifting again, still blond, short as hell, and metal. "You know who this one is, don't you?"
Just like that, Greed was no longer Greed. Envy watched the prince force himself forward, the face somehow softer, and frowned. "Edward," he said, quiet, and then Greed was back, looking furious. "Stop fucking around," he snapped, grabbed Envy by the red coat that wasn't his and pulled him until they were nose to nose, Envy's new mismatched feet not even on the ground. "Put your fucking face back, and let's get this over with."
Fascinating. The Fullmetal midget got the best response? Envy shifted one last time, face falling back into place, and pushed Greed's hands off him, tucking that useful tidbit away for later.
Father gave simple jobs most of the time, and there was nothing easier than putting a pawn in its place.
Dead, usually, was its place.
Just like that Intelligence man, one of Mustang's many and irksome followers, this man had just gone a step too far with his curiosity. Father couldn't have that, so Envy got the man, Envy and Greed. They were on the poor bastard's roof, staring down through the thin, angled windows as the man shucked his military coat and paced around the kitchen, disappeared into some other room, and wandered back. He opened the fridge, closed it, wandered to a cabinet, and came back and opened the fridge again like he was hoping something would magically appear.
Stupid human, Envy thought. If there was nothing there the first time, there wouldn't be anything the second time either.
"We're wasting time," Greed prodded.
"We have time to waste," Envy returned, ignoring the tense set of his sibling's jaw. Greed was too selfish with his time, as he was with everything else, but Envy wasn't going to let him kill the fun. "Look at him," Envy said. "Isn't it sad?"
"Yes, it certainly is sad," Greed sniped, looking pointedly at Envy. "I'm fucking tired of standing here. Get your ass moving, or I'll take care of this myself."
Well, Envy couldn't have that.
It wasn't the chase, nor was it the satisfaction of accomplishing the task set out before him that Envy enjoyed. It was the singular moment where his fist was sitting inside the human's stomach, clawing through organs and flesh and veins and arteries like it was tissue paper, watching the target's eyes turn to pinpoints, fear, pain, still alive and drowning in the feel of Envy wrecking him. True satisfaction, beyond anything else, came from the complete and utter destruction of a human being, letting the body, void of a soul, slide to the ground in an ungraceful heap, mangled viscera spilling out the front of it.
Greed was staring between Envy and the mass of decimated meat on the ground that had once been a man, lip curled and eyes narrowed. "Fucking freak," he could hear Greed muttering. "How the hell should I know—" He was having a conversation, Envy realized. A conversation with the prince.
Envy's stomach heaved.
"You could have been more helpful," Envy said, grabbing for his sibling's attention. "I did all the work. You just stood there and tried to look menacing." If he sounded petulant, Envy didn't honestly care. Greed looked at him again, frowning like he wasn't really sure what he should be thinking, and then turned his eyes to the ceiling and let out a derisive snort.
"You looked pretty happy," Greed said. "I didn't want to interrupt."
"That's a pathetic excuse," Envy snapped. "Has that human's presence really affected you that much?"
Greed scowled. "What the fuck are you on about?"
"Don't act like any more of an idiot than you have to. I know about the prince," Envy said. "Father does, too. It's obvious that you can't control him."
Finally, finally, Greed looked at Envy, looked him dead in the eye and there wasn't a hint of the prince there, just a burning hatred that sparked a memory of old Greed in Envy's mind. "The prince is mine," Greed said, advancing on Envy. "He's just an attachment I got with this container, and don't you talk like you understand." Greed was right in front of him, and Envy stared up into his face and wanted to purr at the blatant anger, the hatred, roiling in those slanted eyes, so far from human. "A country, I got an entire fucking country with this container, and if that's not a good start, then fuck if I know what is. But this world," Greed's voice was quiet, focused, "is going to be mine."
"Father's," Envy corrected.
"No," Greed snarled, "mine. Every last bit of it. Every person, every building, all the money, all the power—it'll be mine, and the prince and his goddamned country is just a fraction of it, a stepping stool." Nose to nose, Greed was leaning down, right in Envy's face. "And you," he said, voice a parody of calm, "won't talk shit about my possessions. Not where I can hear you."
"You're threatening me?" Envy laughed. "Little brother, you're growing up so fast." He would have said more, but Greed's hand was black and on his throat, squeezing hard and harder, claws pushing into the skin and bleeding into a sharp pain that blinded Envy momentarily until suddenly he was looking up at his body from the floor, throat a bloodied stump shooting up from the rest of him.
He'd died. Envy had died— that bastard killed him!
Greed dropped his body and the Stone called for the missing pieces, reassembling him so Envy could shoot back to his feet and shriek, "You shithead, you fucking killed me! What the fuck's wrong with you?!"
"Me?" Greed laughed, hysterically so, and Envy imagined the prince laughing at him as well, both of them in on the joke. Anger churned in his stomach, burning through his body, and Envy, not for the first time, felt the lust for his brother's blood, for the Stone in his chest to be in Envy's hand while the flesh desperately tried to catch up. "No, no, I would never do something like that to my own flesh and blood," Greed said, calming.
Envy could still feel an echo of the pain. Hands clutching his own throat, Envy hunched over, poised to strike, teeth bared at Greed as he circled his sibling. "You fucking useless piece of shit."
"Still got you, didn't I?" Greed flicked the last remnants of flesh and blood from his clawed fingers before the hand faded back to flesh. He was still grinning at Envy, a dopey expression more like the prince than the homunculus.
"I should kill you."
"Try," Greed said. "Go on, I bet you can't. I'll win," and fuck that bastard anyway, he probably would. Greed's defenses were second to none but Father's.
They were standing in what was left of their human target, too close for a fight, and Envy took it a step further, closing the distance, chest pressed to Greed's so his sibling was looking down at him just to keep his eyes on Envy's. "There's no reason to be so difficult, Greed," Envy purred. "We should be getting along. It's what family does, after all."
Greed threw his head back and laughed. "Is that what we are?"
Envy put his hands on Greed's chest, jagged nails digging in. "Of course is it," he confirmed. "We, all of us, we're all we have. Surely even your prince can understand that."
There was a flicker of something behind Greed's eyes, and Envy watched the internal debate, watched the prince try to push his way through. For once, Greed wouldn't let him. "All right," Greed said, voice still tinged with malice straight from the kill, "let's get along, then."
Envy let Greed back him into a wall, both of them trailing bloody footsteps across the kitchen. He could practically feel the prince's repressed rage. The discord was obvious in the slight hesitation of Greed hands, like he had to force the motion against a heavy wind. The prince wasn't pleased.
"You can be anyone." It wasn't a question.
"Anyone," Envy promised, and when Greed's hands were on him, Greed's mouth at his neck, Envy bit back a mouthful bile (fucking human hands all over me) and let his features distort until he was that girl again, the prince's bodyguard, one arm gone and trailing blood down the wall while Greed rutted against his smooth, unblemished woman's thigh. It took Greed a moment to see, but the revulsion—the prince's unconcealed emotion—welled up behind his eyes immediately, even as Greed's hands kept moving, his hips still snapping forward.
"Not to your liking?" Envy rasped, rubbing the woman's thigh between Greed's legs. "Maybe something else, then," and another shift, blond hair tumbling down his back, a metal arm wrapping around Greed's shoulders.
Greed couldn't seem to reconcile himself with the prince then, so it was easy for Envy to push his sibling around, to get his back against the wall while he sank to Edward's knees, a perfect imitation. The metal knee screeched when it hit the ground, but Envy was looking up at Greed's face, too pale to be normal, with gold eyes. He rested the metal hand on Greed's thigh, flesh fingers sliding down his zip. "Something wrong?" he asked, cheek pressed to Greed's thigh as he pulled out his cock, sliding his thumb against the tip.
"No," Greed said in a low, strained tone. "Nothing." But the words obviously cost him. His face kept twitching, the prince barely a step behind him. Greed strained for control, slipping further and further. Envy watched with Edward's eyes while Greed scrambled to keep his host at bay, waiting, stroking Greed's cock in loosely looped fingers, until he could see the prince closing in.
Greed might have managed to stay in front had Envy not chosen that moment to slide Edward's lips around his cock and stare up with Edward's eyes and groan.
The hands that flew to his hair weren't Greed's. The prince was muttering darkly, a language Envy didn't know mixing with a flow of Amestrian curses.
"Something wrong, you squinty eyed bastard?" Envy pressed his lips to the tip of the prince's cock when he spoke, words pouring from his mouth in Edward's rough, country-tinged voice.
"Fuck you," the prince ground out. Envy used his metal hand to pinch the human's thigh, humming disappointedly as he sank his mouth back down on the prince's cock, tongue pressing against the bulging vein on the underside of it. The prince's hands were loosening in Envy's hair, and his hips were jerking in short, sporadic motions.
Greed wasn't entirely gone, because no matter how much the prince cursed, he didn't try to break free, just kept riding the sensation and shoving Envy's mouth down on his cock by the grip in blond hair that wasn't Envy's own.
When the prince came, it was that Fullmetal brat's name on his lips, but when Envy let him go, watched him sink to the ground, he let his features shift one more time until he was himself again. Envy grabbed the prince's chin and pulled him close, wiping the trail of cum from his chin against the prince's cheek.
"Isn't it nice," Envy said, face still stuck to the prince's, "to spend time with family?"
Their father would be so pleased.