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Precious Things

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Dolcetto sat in the cold holding onto the only precious thing left in the world.

Everything was darkness and screaming and blood and death. You’d think the war would have prepared him for that. Would have conditioned him to be unflinching in the face of senseless cruelty and hurt.To turn away from the sick and the dying. To save himself.

You’d think that would be the case.

But it isn’t.

Whatever humanity wasn’t ripped from him in Ishval is still there.

So he sits with his arms wrapped around the small being who deserved none of what she was dealt. Her name offered to him in the voice of a child- a child- is Nina. She whines often in her sleep and talks a lot about her father. Dolcetto has this sick fucking feeling that he’s the bastard that did this to her and if she wasn’t so worried about his well being and if she could remember his name he just might hunt that man down and force him to repent for all that he’s done before ripping out his guts.

She keeps getting so sick that she can’t stop shaking and panting. When she has the energy she talks about her big brothers and her dog whose still with her. She nuzzles into his chest and she tells him all about her Edward. She misses him and Dolcetto just tells her that he must miss her too.

He thinks a lot about Gracia, his own sister, the pacifist, ever the angel of the family. Who loved her books and animals and the rain. Who helped anyone she could and who smiled like the sun. All the while he liked to pick fights and prove his strength. Show off his bravery to anyone who would spare him a second glance. And when he would come home, fists bloodied and knuckles torn apart at the edges she would bandage his hands. She never asked what happened or why. She didn’t need to.

He thinks about Gracia who had begged him not to go to war. Who told him that he didn’t need to go. That she needed him at home. She was only fourteen and dad was gone and mom could offer no help and they needed that military money. He tried to explain this to her as he kissed her forehead in goodbye.

He hopes she got his final check and put it to good use. He hopes that the letter that most likely told her that he was dead didn’t hurt her. But of course it did. He knows that it did. He left her and now he’s here in what feels more like hell than earth.

So he curls closer to Nina, his sweet Nina, and tries to forget the outside world. Forget the world he has no hopes of ever returning to.

 

He tries not to fight the guards, he really does. They just make things harder on Nina if he does that. The sick bastards use his heart against him and he fucking hates them for it. He hates it but there’s nothing he can do. There’s too many of them.

So he tries not to be a problem but he can hear what happens when she’s out of his sight. He can hear her whining when they take her. She’s so strong for her age but they love to break her. He can hear their tests and her screams and whimpers and her begging for her father who’s never coming back and he can’t take it.

When she returns to their cell she returns with a limp. Her paw looks bloodied and broken and he growls at the guards for what they did to her. “Where do you people get off? Hurting a little girl who did nothing wrong! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

They pay him no mind. He’s sure they have been given instruction to not talk to the animals. He understands that orders are orders but he hates them. He was a dog of war before he just started getting treated like a dog and orders are orders- but a little girl? She likes to find rocks and build tiny castles with them when she feels well enough to move. She’s explained to him the complications of hide-and-go-seek multiple times because when she can breathe properly she loves talking about games and by God Dolcetto is going to let her do whatever she wants to do.

Sometimes she just wants to rest and that’s okay too. He lets himself be used as a pillow and he’ll card his fingers through her black mane and he’ll sing her lullabies because by all rights she’s his little girl and he can’t sing well but for her, he can try.

She’s his little girl and they treat her like no one should ever treat another living thing.

 

Most days his only hope is that she isn’t treated how he is.

The newest trend for his tests is endurance. In running, in holding his breath, in heat and in cold. The waterboarding is the worst but they don’t really do it often. He figures that they’re just worried about accidentally killing him before they can fully understand his potential. The running sucks but the military helped him learn how to put one foot in front of the other when his lungs feel like they’re being filled with fire and his legs feel like they’re becoming molten lead.

The heat and the cold seem like those tests are still in their beta phases and they aren’t that bad. He hasn’t been subject to anything sub-zero yet and he takes that as an incredibly good sign for the time being. He tries not to think too much about his future.

They often return him shaking to his cell and Nina will crowd him and ask him if he’s alright. She does this everytime he returns and he always hugs her in response. He says he’s okay even if he can only just whisper it and he’ll ask her to tell him stories if she feels like it as he braids her hair. She likes her hair being braided and so did Gracia. Silently, he thanks his little sister for forcing him to learn.

On the days when they are too tired for anything other than the greeting they just sleep or sit in companionable silence.

In the quiet moments, Dolcetto likes to dream of another life. He meets Nina in another circumstance and they are both unbroken and he takes his little girl to meet Gracia. He thinks they would get along well and maybe they could go to a park and play tag. Gracia could teach her how to make cookies and how to weave a basket out of broken branches.

He could meet Nina’s big brothers. God only knows what happened to them.

He thinks that he’d get along with them, maybe. They could be a family in another life. He tries not to dwell on the impossible too much because they make his chest ache and he wants to cry but he has to be strong for his Nina. He doesn’t want her to think about all the things that can never be. That can never happen.

But he wishes that they could.

More than anything, he wishes that they could.

 

One day she comes back with bloodied paws. Her pads looked like they were burned off and he can do nothing but hold her and wrap her paws in the tattered remnants of his shirt. She whines a lot that night and she can’t even talk. She’s so tired she can hardly cry.

Sickness looms heavy over her and her normally heavy breathing is turned into wheezing sighs. She has to wake up a few times in the night to cough up blood and he wants so badly to know what they did, but he can’t ask because he doesn’t want her to try to articulate the torture. He wants to know what they did so he can find a way to properly take care of her. So that, when they get out of this hell hole, he can do the same ten times over to the scientists and the guards and everyone else even remotely involved.

He knows that vengeance does noting in the end. He knows that. But holding this little girl in his arms, he starts to wonder if it wasn’t the way to right things. What was that weird mumbo-jumbo alchemists always say?

Equivalent exchange.

Though, he thinks, it wouldn’t be very equivalent if those bastards were only tormented once. They deserved to rot in this cell for years, to be scared, to lose everyone they loved in one way or another.

And he knows that these thoughts aren’t going to help anyone. That he really shouldn’t do anything. That if they make it out of here, he should be the better man and leave them dumbfounded by his pacifism and benevolent nature. But that was never really his style.

Nina shuffles in his arms finally settled down into a thankfully peaceful sleep, and he questions what his style even is anymore.

 

Peaceful silence is interrupted by loud clamoring talk of “the mutts” as their overlords love to call them. He smells them before he can see them round the narrow corridor and their scent carries with them sulfur and fury and old blood.

Their barred door swings open with a loud bang that startles Nina out of her dream and Dolcetto just holds her tighter to his chest. He’s so fucking done with his girl coming back to him in pain. He can’t stand to hear her crying anymore. And he knows damn well that he shouldn’t fight them. That resistance is futile. That they can always put a bullet in his head if he becomes too big of a problem.

And he doesn't want to leave Nina. Not like he left Gracia. But instinct is overpowering him and he just wants to protect his pup. He wants her to get out of this hell hole. He wants to let her feel the grass on her paws and he wants to play hide-and-seek with her and he wants to teach her what it's like to run when you want to. He wants to make her food that will actually fill her up and he wants to make pillow forts with her. He wants her to laugh and play. He wants her to be a fucking kid.

He wants to get her out of here.

He needs to get her out of here.

And now he’s growling through sharp teeth. Setting Nina behind him as he threatens them with fang and with claw. Several startle and take a few steps back but many more stand their ground. Stupid fucking training to make them think that they have a chance. He tells his little girl to close her eyes and she obeys by laying down and covering her face in with her oversized paws.

He manages to catch one in the stomach and the man goes down with a scream. Bright crimson stains the cold concrete walls of the cell. Strong arms doing nothing to help his entrails repair. The scent of iron fills the room and he fells two others before a bullet tears through his shoulder and his arm left goes slack. It had to have been laced with something, he thinks as his knees stop working properly and he falls. He hits his face on the floor and there’s a sickening crack. His nose is broken, no doubt about that. He feels himself breathe in and choke on his own blood before barely remembering to turn his head to the side. The pain of his stomach being kicked barely registers and he can hear Nina rush him and ask if he’s okay but then she’s gone and everything goes black.

 

The small cell they put him is uncomfortable but somehow bearable. He can manage. He can survive, he knows that he can. His arm aches and he’s begun to fear that they’re going to let the wound become infected. Perhaps it will become festered off by the time they finally decide to amputate or give him any sort of antibiotic. But his arm… he doesn’t care all that much about a stupid limb at this point. Anxiety begins to eat away at his stomach when he begins to ponder the fate of his little girl. He wonders what happened to her. He wonders if she’s okay.

He tries not to wonder what they did to her because of him.

He sometimes asks the good doctors about her as they perform tests on him but they remain silent. Dolcetto caught something the other day about a guard being killed and he’s sure that it was the one hit in the abdomen but he’s not quite crazy enough to ask if his theory is correct.

Sometimes he howls into the darkness when they shut off the lights and when he can’t sleep which is often. He has too many questions about his little girl and too few answers. He hopes that someone will return his call, but no one ever does.

 

The tests swiftly become more rigorous and he’s finally placed in a chamber that’s below zero. When he returns to his cell riddled with frostbite and freezing lungs he does nothing to stop tears from pouring and his ceaseless howls sing of pain and loss and unabashed fear. He hits his wall but it’s no use.

Of course it’s no use.

The metal is uncaring as the bastards who run this place.

 

He thinks about Gracia a lot, but he thinks of Nina more. He misses her presence and he can’t sleep most nights without nightmares featuring her being harmed in some way. Whenever he wakes up from those dreams he can feel his body being weighed down with guilt. Whatever has happened to the best thing in here. The best thing in his life since he left home. Whatever happened to her is all his fault and he knows that.

He knows that he shouldn’t have done what he did. That he wasn’t thinking and that cost him. That cost her. He thinks about Nina and it’s like a major part of him is missing. He has a hard time not just trying to die. He thought about it sure, but Nina might still need him and he’s going to be here when she comes back for him.

He has to be strong for her.

And so he waits for her.

He waits.

 

He waits and it’s awful.

Surviving is more difficult than he can remember. He can feel his legs move, he can feel his arms soreness, he can feel oxygen filling his lungs, and yet he can’t bring himself to care. It just- it requires way too much energy. He needs that sort of fuel to eat, which is a challenge these days. And he knows that’s a bad sign but… there’s nothing he can do to change the way things are. He just eats what he can when he can and he tries not to get killed or injured too bad during his tests.

Those two things really shouldn’t be as difficult as they are
.
He comes back after tests with bruises and new scars and a lack of appetite. He shovels down his shitty food even though it makes his stomach churn. He does it but he can tell he’s been getting thinner. He tries to care. He really does.

 

He doesn’t know how long it’s been since he saw his girl. He honestly stopped keeping track of the days, the counting was starting to drive him up a wall. So it could have been a week later- or maybe it was a year- when he hears an explosion rip through the lab.

In the rubble, he can see broken bodies and glass and metal. He sees crimson leaking onto the floor and electricity from broken wiring crackles in the dark room. And towering above it, standing like a king above his palace, there’s a tall, dark man who could have been a demigod or a demon in a past life. Dolcetto didn’t care either which way about it because cradled in the man’s arms was his little girl.

The man must have been strong, he muses. His Nina isn’t light by any means.

The man gently set her down and barks orders to others behind him, still in the settling cloud of dust.

Nina can stand on her own and she even plods around the room, sniffing at crumbling cement here and there. She looks good, healthy even. Dolcetto can’t see any new scars marring her pale body and that fact releases a tension he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. His heart soars and he’s so proud of his little girl for pulling through for him. “Nina!”

She twists towards the sound of his voice and then bounds towards him in that awkwardly adorable shifting gait of hers. She has to stick her face through the bars of his cell to see him properly and he lets her sniff his hands, not wanting to startle her. “D-dol?” She speaks softly, labored breath half ways catching.

He can feel himself start to cry. “Yeah, sweetheart it’s me.” He wraps his arms around her powerful neck. On her fur, he can smell rain and rubble. But he can’t pick up on any blood and he quickly thanks whatever god is out there for that fact.

“Y-you alright?”

He snuggles even closer to her, “I’m okay, kiddo, I’m okay.”

And for the first time in a long time, he feels like he actually is.

Chapter Text

The bar is loud and constantly filled with smoke and people that yell and fight and Dolcetto loves it. As Greed’s bodyguard it’s his job to make sure the really shady characters don’t even get the chance to make it through the front doors. He’s a fancy bouncer and he gets paid well to kick asses on a regular basis.

He thinks he’s managed to find his dream job.

The icing on the cake has to be his co-workers. Martel has taken to sparing with him on a regular basis to keep both of their moves sharp. She wins most of the time, but that’s something Dolcetto admires about her. She’s tough and smart and loyal and she doesn’t half-ass anything. If she says she’s going to do something she goes through with it. She’ll do it and she’ll do it well. Sometimes Dolcetto has to abandon his post and help Nina go back to sleep when she has nightmares and Martel will take over his shift or sometimes she’ll comfort Nina herself.

Nina likes her. First his little girl was afraid of everyone, especially Roa and his large stature and booming voice. But after a while she warmed up to everyone. She likes to talk to Martel about anything and everything. She’ll tell the older chimera about the butterfly that landed on her nose or about the rainbow she spotted in the sky. Martel pays attention to her even if she’s busy.

When it’s closing time and the patrons are gone, if Nina is still up, she’ll softly pad around the dining room and help Martel and Bido clean up as best as she can. She likes to help out and everyone is always happy to let her do so even though she’s a little clumsy and sometimes knocks things over. But no one scolds Nina for that.

People here are understanding and patient and there’s no way that words could describe all the gratitude Dolcetto has for it so instead he shows it physically by guarding the bar as best as he is able. He shows it by helping repair the broken floorboards and by going into town one night and purchasing new drinking glasses because stupid Rikky got way too drunk again and he likes to throw things.

Dolcetto is a man of action and he quickly learns that the others here are too. Ulchi is a gruff guy who tends to drink a lot whenever he has the chance, but he’s got a heart of gold underneath that rough exterior. He doesn’t really talk to Nina a lot but one day he handed her a fluffy rabbit plushie. He didn’t really say much more than a grumbled, “Here, kid.” But it was still the sweetest thing that Ulchi could have done and if it were socially acceptable Dolcetto would have “awwww”-ed aloud. But Dolcetto is supposed to be a big scary sword wielding ninja attack dog so he didn’t. He just said “awww” in his head.

The rabbit plushies name is “Mr. Bunny”.

Nina named him and Dolcetto didn’t even try to restrain his aww when she choose it.

Then there’s Bido who has the tendency of being a little odd sometimes, but he watches over Nina during the day when they have to stay in one of the back rooms and Nina likes him which is good enough for Dolcetto. Apparently Bido likes to read picture books out loud to her, and though Dolcetto was never all that great at the school thing, he thinks it would be good for the girl to be literate and he appreciates Bido for his efforts.

And there’s Roa who honestly scared the crap out of both Nina and Dolcetto at first. But Dolcetto quickly warmed up to the big guy. Roa is a killer chess player and Dolcetto has yet to win a round. He’s also an excellent chef who, despite his own vegan diet, makes everyone breakfast and, more often than not, dinner as well. Dolcetto still feels spoiled over the weekly ritual of fresh pancakes.

Roa managed to win Nina over with food, consistently making her a cheesy egg scramble for breakfast because one time Nina offhandedly said that it was her favorite. Dolcetto is also sure that Roa consenting to have a tea party with her and Mr. Bunny did wonders as well.

Roa is so good with his little girl that once Doletto began to wonder if the man ever had kids of his own. But he doesn't ask. To do so would be rude, dredging up old and potentially bitter memories like that is just something no one does here. There is minimal talk of the labs, if any. Just short muttered breaths after one of them wakes up screaming or yelling in the middle of the night from a particularly bad dream.

There is even less talk of their lives before. The lives they can’t return to because they all know that they have changed. Once Ulchi had a few too many and he spoke of a woman with red hair and a fiery temper who had won him over and who he had inevitably left for the war.

It was the first time Dolcetto had seen him cry.

Dolcetto would rather not see that happen ever again.

Not if he can help it.

 

And then finally- finally- there was the boss himself, Greed.

Standing over the rubble all that time ago Dolcetto had thought he looked like a god or a fallen angel. Now, Dol thinks that he’s just as human as the rest of the gang, though in all honesty Dolcetto has never actually been told what Greed is.

But what he does know is that Greed is smart and outgoing and charismatic and a little bit crazy in the best of ways.

Greed likes to get trashed with the cheap brandy at the back of the bar. He likes to launch himself over couches and railings while screaming, “Parkour!!” Dolcetto is still surprised that Greed hasn’t broken an arm yet and he dreads the fact that it seems like it’s only a matter of time.

Greed is incredibly responsible and he takes inventory and does the paperwork for the bar. He makes monthly trips into town for shipments and everytime he asks Dolcetto to go with him. But that's the thing, he doesn’t just tell Dolcetto to come, he asks. Of course Dol has no choice in the matter what with his bodyguard title, but he appreciates that slight difference in phrasing nonetheless.

Greed, more than anything though, is compassionate. This was a fact that would have surprised Dolcetto a few months ago. Greed is closed off, more than the rest of the group despite the fact that he acts like your stereotypical party boy.

He has high walls, and Dolcetto isn’t quite sure why.

But little cracks of his true personality poke through here and there. Greed is good with Nina. He treats her like a kid. She can’t go outside during the day because people would see her and know something was up. It’s the same with Bido and everyone is sympathetic of their situation. So Greed has tried to find ways to bring the outside in to her.

He’s painted a few of the walls in oddly cute childish murals.

He brought in extra soft and warm blankets for her.

Once he picked as many flowers as he could and made a dandelion flower crown for her. If asked about it, Greed would just say that he wanted to have all the flowers in the world because, you know, “Greed”.

But Dolcetto has heard him talk to Nina. And it’s not something greedy or for himself. The boss obviously cared about his little girl and Dolcetto always fells an odd tightening feeling in his chest whenever he saw Greed, the real Greed, behind the wall of leather and fur and faux extroversion.

And Dolcetto knows full damn well what that feeling is but he doesn’t really want to pursue it, it was just too soon. And besides, he has his little girl to take care of.

 

“Dolcetto?”

Greed pops his head through the doorway of Dol’s room, waking his bodyguard up. Through the darkness Dolcetto could see the moonlight catching in his ebony hair.

“Y-yeah boss?” He can feel his words half stick in his gravely throat, sleep still affecting his speech. Carefully, he unwinds his arms from around Nina and stands, nearly falling over from the sudden headrush. He yawns- it sounds like a jet taking off thanks to the dog genes- and rubs an eye then looks at the clock. “It’s five in the mornin’... what’s goin on?”

Greed just waves him over, “Just come ‘er.”

Dolcetto followed him out of his room and into the hallway. He was admittedly confused about this whole thing, but it was whatever.

He yawned again, he was dog tired- pun not intended- and he seriously just wanted to go back to bed as soon as possible. But still he followed his boss into the dark, it wasn’t like Greed did this sort of thing often… it had only happened once before, and that was because Greed was drunk and he really wanted to know where the chocolate ice cream was- so Dolcetto hardly thought that counted.

When they stopped, Dolcetto couldn’t help but notice that Greed had taken off his fur collared vest and was just in his skin tight tank top that was just ridiculously too well fitting. Hanging from his hips was a pair of loose fitting gray sweatpants. Though the bodyguard was used to the black skinny jeans the pajamas were different and admittedly very, very se- he decided not to finish that thought.

On top of the sinful outfit, Greed’s hair was messed up, some hanging in his dark eyes, casting allouring shadows across his cheeks and jaw. Again, Dolcetto felt that weird tightening in his chest but he tried his best to squash that feeling as soon as it popped up. He tried but he could still feel his heart give a lurch as Greed gently rested against the wall, the waistband of his bottoms falling distressingly lower than before.

Dolcetto cleared his throat, “What… what did you need me for?”

“I’m going on a mission in the afternoon and I’ll probably be leaving for a week or so.”

Dolcetto’s eyebrows crinkled together, “Okay… so Roa will be in charge again then or-”

“I wanted to know if you would be okay with going with. You’re a strong fighter and I could use you. But, I know you have the girl to take care of so if you think that you can’t leave her for that long, that’s fine, I’ll just take Ulchi.”

Dolcetto took a deep breath. On one hand, he had never been away from Nina for that long since the lab. On the other, he knew that as Greed’s bodyguard, he had to go, it was his job. The small canine part of him really wanted to go so he could prove his worth to his… for lack of a better word… his alpha. Sure, he was doing a good job as a bouncer but he wanted to do more for the man that rescued him.

“I’ll go. I’m sure Nina will be fine with Martel and Bido watching over her, she’s a strong, she’ll be fine. I’ll just need to talk things over with her.”

Greed smirked and gave a short nod, “That’s precisely why I told you now.”

Dolcetto gave him a small smile as his boss turned to walk away. “Erm… Greed?

He pauses and looks back.

“I just… thank you, for the consideration and-”

Greed waves him off with a chuckle and continues to walk away, “Don’t make it weird.”

 

“Why do yo-u have to g-o?”

He sighed, this was the fifth time that Nina asked, “Because, sweetheart, Greed needs my help so I gotta go with him.”

She whimpers, “B-but why?”

Dolcetto kneels in front of her and gently strokes her ears before cupping her face in his hands, “I need to protect him. That’s my job, you know?”

“L-like ho-w you pro-tect me?”

He smiles and ruffles he black hair, “Exactly!”

She nods but she doesn’t look all that happy yet.

“Hey, cheer up, you get to have a sleepover with Martel while I’m gone! Won’t that be a whole lotta fun?”

“S-sleepover?”

“Well yeah, you can sleep in her room, I already talked to her about it! And maybe, just maybe, if you ask really nicely, she’ll braid your hair!”

Nina started to look more excited by the minute, “S-sleepover! Sleepover!”

 

He has a small backpack filled with food and an extra jacket. Strapped across his chest is his kitana, freshly sharpened and polished. Martel punches his shoulder roughly, but it was a friendly gesture. “Be safe out there. You have a little girl to come home to.”

Dolcetto nods, “Take care of her okay?”

Martel smiles, “Of course!”

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

They called themselves “Crimson Tide”.

They were a new upstarting gang in Dublith that thought it would be a good idea to throw their weight around. Try and scare local businesses into subservience.

In all honesty, they should have been easy to deal with.

And at first they were. One day a woman came in offering “protection”, given from Crimson Tide, for a third of the profits that the bar made. She was fairly easy to scare away, as were those few who followed after her.

Then there were the men looking for a fight, to try and scare the bouncers away from their jobs. That couldn’t have gone any worse for those guys.

However, just recently they became much more aggressive with their attacks on the bar- the gang’s higher-ups probably weren’t all that happy to see each of their goons return with the shit beaten out of them every night. Multiple gunmen had to be stopped and one man was even caught with explosives in his vest. He… shall we say…. went missing right after Dolcetto sniffed out the C-4.

It was obvious that the gang was looking for a fight, and Greed decided it would be good to bring the fight to them. Dolcetto couldn’t help but agree.

 

As it turned out, the gang’s headquarters was much harder to find then Dolcetto could have predicted.

It was day five of their supposed week long trip. Though in all fairness, Greed never truly gave an accurate estimate of how long they would be gone from the bar. He changed his answers often when asked so after a while Dolcetto just stopped asking and he figured he’d get home eventually and that was that.

The past days have been spent in bars at the edge of Dublith, looking for some sort of lead. Days spent hanging out with Greed who liked to act smooth with girls to get anything that they knew. Days spent sitting in the corner of bars with too sharp ears hearing the sweet talk that poured like liquid gold from Greed’s lips.

Looking into an amber whiskey that he was fully aware that he shouldn’t be drinking on the job.

Restless nights spent in the same cheap hotel room- same bed- as his boss, dressed in boxers and that damnable tank top due to the lack of air conditioning and cursed summer nights when the temperature soared. Listening to the cruelty of the absolutely adorable soft breaths and barely muttered words from Greed’s sleep hazed lips.

Nights of blunt fingers brushing against his back whenever Greed would roll over and reach out for his pillow in his sleep, leaving trails of fire and ice in their wake.

Nights of too little sleep and a hopeless feeling in his chest when he would let himself think of what never could be.

He had Nina. He had a good job. He had friends who he would trust with his life. He was alive and healthy and breathing and that should be good enough for him. To start and wish for more would just be rude to whatever god decided that he shouldn’t have been killed in battle or in that lab or any time before or in between.

But still, in the dead of night when the only sounds to accompany him were the crickets in the walls and light snores, he couldn’t help but lie awake and dream of what wouldn’t happen. What he would never act on.

Things that he shouldn’t want but he so desperately did.

Damn it all.

 

From a petite working girl with strawberry blonde hair and a crop top that could barely be considered a shirt, they were given a lead.

The warehouse was dark and though it looked clean and orderly, it reeked of blood and chemicals (which Dolcetto has learned to associate with the creation of drugs), alcohol and piss and the overarching scent of anger rose above it all.

Despite himself, Dolcetto took a tentative step back from the building. Everything about the scene in front of his eyes, in every cold edge and brick and dusted over window, every instinct screaming that he should run.

But he was a soldier and he was not about to just leave the man he was supposed to be protecting to whatever hell awaited them through the metal door that stood before them.

He looked to Greed for some sort of guidance. Alas, his boss seemed bored with everything that was happening at the current moment. Greed never seemed scared of anything and that fact definitely worried the bodyguard. Dolcetto had seen enough men die in the military to know that when you thought you had nothing to fear or run from, that’s usually when you became an easy target.

Greed must have noticed his hesitance so he just nodded his head towards the door. “Let’s get this over with.”

Dolcetto could do nothing but nod back, the fetid air was becoming choking and he felt like he could barely breathe, let alone talk. So he just nodded mutely and pushed open the metallic door.

Inside the stench and sick feeling was stronger. Something was very off about this place and Dolcetto just wanted to leave with Greed as soon as possible. His boss, however, seemed to have other plans as he slowly prowled around the crates that seemed to almost fill the warehouse to the ceiling. Inside them were drugs and homebrewed alcohol and, more frighteningly, explosives and guns with enough ammo to start a small militia.

Dolcetto shivered, “Why the hell do they need so many weapons?”

Greed pushed a box out of his way and shrugged, “Well, it's not like they’re gonna use it all. I’m willing to bet that they’re selling these bad boys on the black market. These assholes know what they’re doing, I can give them that.”

 

Yeah, they knew what they were doing.

Dolcetto should have known they were coming, but the choking stench blocked their own out. The white noise of industrial machinery and whining fans made him deaf.

They struck him down first.

Something had felt off, more so than before, “Boss…. I think we should get out of here.”

Greed shook his head and rolled his eyes, turning away from Dolcetto to investigate more crates. “What are you? My gramma? It’ll be okay, stop worrying so much.”

Dolcetto let out a short sigh as Greed rounded a corner, going further into the warehouse. He was just about to follow along when someone hit the back of his head with a bat or a crowbar or a fucking nightstick.

Whatever it was, it was enough to knock him on his ass and stun him enough to not say anything. The world was spinning and he saw five… or four… he was seeing double and that made the whole counting thing hard… five or four thugs. With bats or something. He should know who they were but he couldn’t quite make the connection. He felt like he should definitely know who they are.

“Who are…” Dol slurred.

Then they hit him again.

 

There were lights. Great blurred lights that melted together every time he shifted his head even slightly.

The smell of blood perforated the room. The iron should have been choking but the lights were distracting and he couldn’t force himself to remember why he should be worried about the metal smell.

After a while, he forgot about the scent and kept looking at the lights. They looked like giant stars or the sun or… or stars. He remembered something about looking at the stars with Gracia. Sitting on the cool grass in the summer and star gazing. Looking into the infinity of space and all the stars and all of their endless possibilities. Sitting in comfortable silence with her. Clean night air in his lungs and a rare contentedness in his heart.

It was peaceful.

Kinda like now. The stars were nice. But there was this smell of blood…

 

“How is he even alive?”

“I… I don’t know… but I don’t see a reason to kill him now-”

“Well… the other guy-”

“That’s the owner I’ve been telling you about! A real stubborn piece of work is what he is. Bastard can’t accept a good deal to save his life.”

“Yeah well… maybe we could use this one to bargain? He seems pretty attached.”

“Maybe, if not we can kill ‘em both.”

 

Dolcetto could hear people talking about something or other. The back of his head hurt like a sonova bitch. He cracked his eyes open and at first, the warehouse lights were blinding but he couldn’t move his arms to shield them. His hands were bound behind his back.

Two more guards marched in with Greed in tow. He seemed unhurt and Dolcetto was silently thankful for that fact. The bosses hands were bound together too, but he also didn’t appear to be struggling, not even a little.

At least… he wasn’t. Not until he spotted Dolcetto sitting by the wall, a pool of blood around his knees from his head wounds.

He yanked away from his captors, stepping back and screaming, “What the fuck did you do to him?”

Dolcetto smiled a little bit, but he didn’t really know why. “I’m fine, boss,” he slurred, “I’ve had worse… I think. Have I? I don’t-”

“Dol, you’re concussed.” Greed turned to face the thugs, “Which one of you fuck sticks did this to him?”

They said nothing.

“I asked you a question. You hurt my god damned property, so it’s time for you to pay.”

One of the thugs stepped up, her face cocky, a semi-automatic rifle rested securely between her hands, “You, sir, are in no position to be making threats.” The woman snaps her fingers and dozens of other gang members flood into the warehouse.

She notices Dolcetto face pale and grins. “You gentlemen walked into my warehouse and started sniffing around my products. You,” She raises an eyebrow ar Greed, “You’re the dingy bar owner, aren’t you? The one that keeps refusing my generous offers of protection.”

Greed spit in her direction, “Protection my ass. Me and my crew can take care of ourselves. Without you defending us from… what exactly? You? Read my lips lady, fuck off.”

She rolls her eyes. “I tried to be civil.”

Then she raises her gun straight towards Greed’s head and pulls the trigger.

 

Dolcetto felt his heart stop when Greed’s lifeless body hit the floor.

Dolcetto felt dread and fear and panic flood his system as blood began to pool. Crimson staining the pale floor.

Dolcetto felt the moment he snapped. He started shaking, tears streaming down his face but going completely unnoticed as blood started to pool in his mouth as his fangs protruded. Claws broke skin and muscles stretched and tore and knit together again. As thin white fur replaced his skin he howled and broke the rope around his body easily. Adrenaline and instinct and bloodlust fueling his every movement.

The transformation lasted seconds and luckily the thugs were too shocked to do much more than stare. By the time his claws tore through the first man, the rest were jolted out of their collective stupor and they raised their guns.

His mind barely registered the screams of felled thugs. His heart was pounding far too loudly in his ears and he could only see in tunnel vision. He couldn’t think in this state, he could just go off of instinct.

He could hardly feel the bullets ripping through his flesh.

 

In the end, he stood, breathing deeply, feeling completely feral. Crimson dripping from his claws and fangs. Blood and anger flooding every sense. He refused to look at where the body was. His anger was so much easier to deal with right now. He knew the bloodlust would wear off as soon as he looked at...

His human heart felt too much.

For now, it was just easier to wear the mask of the beast he was.

For now, he could just pretend he felt nothing. That he was heartless.

It was just easier.

 

He sat on a crate, facing the door and just thinking about what he never did and what he thought never could be. He was still in his shifted form despite cooling down from the rage. Hot night air and the stink of blood made him feel claustrophobic. So he starred outside, avoiding the carnage, and trying to ignore guilt and hurt and this gaping black hole where he thought his heart should be.

The wounds on his arms and torso and thighs ached but didn’t flare up with pain. Not now at least, but he knew that they would. Given time, but they would heal.

Flesh wounds were all that they were and they would heal and he would live. He could take care of Nina and everyone in the bar. Someone would have to replace…. Someone would need to take charge so… someone would have to…

Now that Greed was…

Dolcetto could feel tears on the fur of his muzzle. He tucked his knees next to his chest and he could feel himself shaking again.

He didn’t want to think about-

“Jesus Christ, those guns packed one helluva punch! I was out cold! Damn!”

Dolcetto turned around, eyes wide, staring directly at… at Greed, completely unharmed. He looked back at the door. He’s hallucinated things before while in shock. He thought his mom and dad were there in Isval when that shrapnel ripped through his torso. On nights after testing that went too far, he saw Gracia. This was normal… as normal as this sort of thing could be.

Still, he could hear the sound of heavy footsteps coming towards him.

“You okay, Dol? Did… did you do all of this?”

Dolcetto nodded slowly at the vision in front of him. This Greed looked proud and impressed and… excited? He took a step towards the shifted chimera. “I’ve never seen you like this before, you’re quite a sight, big guy! I’m glad you gave those bastards what they deserved.”

Greed took another step forward, fingers brushing Dolcetto’s shoulder next to the bullet wound. He whistled lowly, “We’re gonna need to get you stitched up… I’m sorry that you got hurt but I’m glad I took you along, you’re a wonderful bodyguard you know that? I- Dolcetto?”

Tears had welled back up in his eyes as Dolcetto raised his arms to cup Greed’s face. “You’re not real,” he choked out in a whisper. “I couldn’t save you and I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry, boss.” Sobs broke his voice as he held onto the hallucination. Maybe he was seriously going crazy and the hit to the back of the head had seriously messed him up.

He felt Greed laugh into his chest as he clung to him. Dolcetto pushed back slightly and saw Greed smiling back at him. “I’m real Dol, it’s okay. You did your job well okay?”

“But… but you…”

“I’m sure you heard those laboratory douchebags talk about homunculi right? Well, surprise!” With that Greed outstretched his tattooed hand with a flourish and something that looked like obsidian crept up his arm, turning it black.

Dolcetto gently pushed Greed out of his arms, slowly coming to terms with this reality. “You… you’re a homunculus?”

Greed smirked and placed his hands proudly on his hips, “Pretty cool huh? Yeah, that’s why my name is Greed ya know-”

“But… but you were…”

“Dead? Yeah, but I’m okay! I can’t die that easily, so it's all cool, right?”

“No… its not.” Dolcetto took a deep breath and stood up, for once he was taller than Greed and he used the height to his advantage, stepping into the bosses space- despite the dog side of him really not wanting to do this, he was just too pissed off to care. “You’re a fucking idiot! Why wouldn’t you tell me? Do you know how fucking scared I was? I seriously thought you were dead!”

“Dol… I didn’t mean to-”

“I don’t care about your excuses!” Dolcetto was growling through his words, “What reason did you have to keep me in the dark about this? We were on the road for almost a week and not once did you think to warn me that, ‘hey, by the way, I can’t die so if I get shot in the fucking face don’t worry.’ Would that be difficult? No. But did you once try to tell me about this! That’s bull shit okay, Greed.”

“Dolcetto. I get that you’re angry but this isn’t a big deal-”

“Not a big deal? Not a fucking big deal? You complete fucking idiot! I was so fucking scared. You were dead, don’t try and act like that shouldn’t have been horrifying for me! I fucking love you and you were dead as a doornail, you…” Dolcetto’s rant slowed to a grinding halt as he realized what he just said.

Greed had this tiny shocked grin on his face, “What was that last part?”

Damn it all.

Chapter Text

Dolcetto was never a man to sugar coat things. He didn’t consider himself a liar or one to go back on something he’s said.

So, here looking at Greed in the fluorescent light, his boss standing looking shell-shocked by something he said… Dolcetto couldn’t force himself to take it back. He meant what he said, the fact that he had actually spoken it aloud brought even more evidence to that fact.

He felt his bones and skin and muscle fading back to his human body. He wasn’t tall anymore so he had to look up at Greed and he smiled, feeling some sort of hidden weight lift off of his shoulders.

He took a tentative step forward, butterflies filling his stomach, “Greed, I like you… a lot… so, please don’t die okay?”

Greed’s eyebrows were knit tightly together. He glared at the ground for a second then looked back at Dol. “Why?” His voice was unusually quiet and hesitant and self-conscious.

“Why? W-Well, I need you- we all need you at the bar! If you died then… then who would take stock or run the register when Roa is sick or… well… We’d all miss you, ya know? Especially-”

“No,”Greed clears his throat then looks towards his feet again, “Why do you like me? I- I’m not…. I don’t deserve…”

Greed looked sad and broken and that honestly unsettled Dolcetto. He took several steps forward and took Greed’s hand in his own. Greed looked at them, something softening in his overcast lavender eyes.

“I like you because… because, sure you can be a complete ass hole, and kind of an idiot at times, but you, deep down in there, you are good and kind. I’ve seen the way you’ve talked to my daught- to Nina. And she loves you, she honestly thinks you’re the coolest person ever and nothing you could ever do would take away my gratitude for that. You gave her as normal and as good of a life as she could ever have.

You did the same for me. You saved me from that lab and you gave me a roof over my head and a job and a companion. You gave me hope. You gave me a reason to keep going and I’m so, so unbelievably grateful for that. You’re handsome and strong and smart and when I thought I lost you… I didn’t know what I was going to do or what I was going to possibly tell Nina or the others. I was so scared and just-”

“Can I kiss you?” Greed’s eyes were wide and soft and honest. It was something that made Dolcetto’s heart melt and soar.

Then it dropped slightly as the bodyguard became more than a little self-conscious, “I… I have blood on my face.”

Greed smirked, raising his hands to cup Dolcetto’s face, “I know.”

Dol smiled gently, leaning forward on his tiptoes, hands on Greed’s waist, lips almost touching-

“They’re in here!”

The pair pulled away suddenly, staring at the open warehouse door. A young gang member stood just outside, pointing at them. Dolcetto could hear footsteps of several other armed thugs sprinting towards them.

Greed clapped his hand on Dolcetto’s shoulder, “Stay behind me.”

 

The ebony of Greed’s armor was terrible and eldritch. His ivory fangs glinted in the pale moonlight and the blood of the slain made his claws pitch black. As bullets ricochet from off his armor, he moved with fearsome accuracy and speed and confidence of a soldier that has never been bested.

In that moment, to Dolcetto, he was glorious and awful and beautiful all at once.

 

Later, hiding out in the nearby woods, away from any more gangsters or guns or surprise attacks, the two laid panting on the cool grass, exhausted from their battles. Dolcetto glanced briefly at Greed and started laughing, his heart filling with relief and joy at the simple fact that he was breathing.

He could hear Greed’s own boisterous laugh erupting from small chuckles and happy breaths. Then, Dol felt his hand be enveloped in Greeds larger one. His erratic giggles began to sober slightly and he scooted slightly closer.

Then closer.

Closer.

Until his shoulder bumped against Greed’s. With the warmth against his side and cool grass at his back, staring up at the cloudy sky, illuminated by the almost full moon. The trees framing the whole thing, swaying slightly in the wind.

He looked to Greed and those magnificent amethyst eyes locked with his.

Greed smiled a genuinely shy smile that pushed up his cheeks and lit up his eyes and made his cheeks redden ever so slightly. “Dol… I think that I like you to. And I’m not very good at this sort of… of thing, but I know that I want you by my side. I think you’re cool and brave and the most loyal person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. So I-”

Dolcetto leaned forward quickly and cut the homunculus off by covering his lips with his own. The praise on top of the adrenaline rush of his fight and anxiety after they were interpreted the first time fueling him.

Greed tasted like blood and cheap brandy and gunpowder.

Dolcetto placed a hand gently on the back of Greed’s head and he can feel more than hear the small moan that comes from the man. It lasts for a split second but it’s like a symphony to Dol.

He props himself up on his other arm, continuing to deepen the kiss, hovering slightly above Greed. Sharp teeth playfully nip at his bottom lip and he can’t help but let out a tiny yelp of surprise, which Greed takes as an invite to lightly push Dol on his back so he could take the lead.

They separate for a moment and they’re both panting and flushed, Dolcetto’s pupils blown wide and love-struck. Greed leans back down and begins kissing Dol’s jawline and cheeks, moving slowly to his neck. In his wake Greed left small bites and demure bruises on Dolcetto’s collarbone before making his way back towards the bodyguard’s lips.

 

Dolcetto wakes up with Greed wrapped around him, legs intertwined and arms linked around Dol’s stomach. He grins and slowly manages to get himself turned around so he can nuzzle into Greed’s warm chest, away from the cool morning air.

Greed raises an arm and brushes branches and twigs from Dolcetto’s hair, “G’ mornin’.” His voice is rough and gravely from sleep.

Dol presses closer before rumbling a, “Mornin’.”

The homunculus pats his head, “Come on sleepyhead, we gotta get a move on.”

Dol rumbles a weak growl and tightens his hold on Greed, “Five more minutes.”

Greed chuckles, “We can snuggle in an actual bed when we get home... It's been what? Like a week? I need to make sure Martel didn’t burn down the place again.”

That wakes Dolcetto up, “She burned a bar down?”

“Just once, doesn’t mean that the damn pyro is off of my shit list though.”

Dolcetto gets up suddenly and helps Greed to his feet, suddenly paranoid. He claps his hands together, “Let’s get going then!”

 

After stealing some clothes off of a drying rack in the back of some random person’s backyard and after they got washed up, the pair looked more than slightly ridiculous. Greed’s hair still had some leaves in it and it was flattened on one side. The denim pants he stole were far too tight, but that was more or less his normal go to for a pair of trousers. The shirt was awful, it’s pied pattern mixed reds and greens and to top it all off it was too short and looked like a crop top on Greed and his tall muscular body.

Dol had no better luck. He managed to snatch a pair of paint-stained overalls that were also cut-offs and failed to cover his knees and anything below. He also found a bright red athletic sweatshirt, sleeves so large and cavernous that his hands kept getting lost in them. He was never much for aesthetics but he really wanted to get in the spare keikogi he had at home and fast.

 

On the way, they ended up stopping at a bakery that served as more or less a midpoint of the woods and the bar. Greed- totally not using money he pick-pocketed- bought a raspberry and white chocolate scone for himself and a large blueberry muffin along with a black coffee for Dol.

As they were walking through the city streets, Dolcetto glanced at Greed who was munching away at his scone, scouting the city like a king overlooking his palace. His head held high and proud despite his insane outfit that kept drawing raised eyebrows and pointed stares… admittedly his usual outfits did that so he’s had a bit of practice.

Greed’s gaze slowly moves over and he notices Dol. He grinned lazily before once more looking straight ahead. He shifted his path slightly towards the bodyguard and lightly tapped Dolcetto’s shoulder. Greed looks like he’s about to start talking for a second but he pauses, clears his throat, and continues, “So… I was wondering if maybe you… wanted to be my boyfriend?”

Dolcetto nearly chokes on his bite of muffin, he snorts, “After last night what do you think?”

Greed gives him a look, half pouty and pleading. It was adorable and it made Dolcetto rolls his eyes, heart soaring and butterflies in his stomach making him want to laugh out loud, “Oh my god, yes. Of course!”

Greed smiles warmly and throws his arm over Dolcetto’s shoulders before placing a kiss on his temple.

 

Greed kicked the front door open, “We’re home!”

It was mid-afternoon so the bar wasn’t open quite yet. Roa grinned broadly and set the cup he was cleaning down, “Welcome back, boss!”

Martel gave a small wave form the bar stool she was haphazardly perched on. Bido shyly poked his head out of one of the storage rooms. Ulchi gave a tiny head nod of acknowledgment from the wall he nonchalantly leaned on.

Nina rushed in from one of the back rooms, “Dol!” She jumped up on her back paws and hit his shoulders, effectively knocking him over.

He chuckled and squished her cheeks, “Hey sweetheart! How are you?’

She backed up and took her paws off of his chest permitting him to stand. “I’m-m good! S-sleepover was fun-n!”

His grin widened, “Did you behave for Martel?”

Martel rolled her eyes and smiled, “She was an angel, of course. How about you Dol? Boss didn’t get too crazy, did he?”

“Well… he kind of forgot to tell me he was a homunculus…”

Martel facepalmed. Roa crossed his arms and gave Greed a vaguely disappointed look, “Greed… say that you didn’t.”

Greed frowned, puffed his chest, and placed his hands on his hips. “None of you gave Dol a warnin’ either so don’t go acting like a bunch of saints!”

Martel squeezed the bridge of her nose before squinting at the boss like she couldn’t believe what he said. “That’s not the point here! You probably scared the poor guy to death!”

Greed rolled his eyes and huffed, “Oh he was fine, weren’t you, Dol?”

Dolcetto looked at the floorboards and let out some sort of half chuckle mixed with a sigh, “I… sure I guess you could say that.”

Martel gestured animatedly towards Dol, “Ya freaked the shit out of him didn’t you?

Greed slumped forwards, “Well everything turned out fine!”

“I bet it did,” Ulchi chuckled, eyes obviously locked on the darkest hickeys ringing Dolcetto’s neck- Greed lost his like five seconds after the fact because of his healing factor… what a dick.

Bido’s eyes widened and he disappeared back into his room. Roa went back to his cleaning and started to act oblivious. Martel wolf whistled as Dolcetto blushed dark red and popped the collar of his jacket to cover the worst of the bruising.

Nina looked up at him and cocked her head slightly, eyes scrunching as she looked at his presumably injured neck, “Y-you okay?”

Greed nearly choked and Dolcetto’s face somehow managed to turn an even deeper red as he patted her head, “Y-yeah, I’m okay, I promise.”

 

It was a little after three in the morning.

The bar was closed, the last of the night owls shooed away several minutes ago. The lights were turned off and Dolcetto did a final inspection of the place, Nina padding slowly along by his side.

Dol had been kinda waiting for a quiet minute to talk to Nina about Greed all day. He wanted to clue her in soon enough so that she didn’t get freaked out by the fact that he might call Greed his boyfriend here or there or by the occasional hand holding or other small display of affection.

Dolcetto also sort of figured that everyone else in the bar pretty much knew- thanks to the hickeys- and he wanted his little girl to know about what was going on in his life.

“Hey, Nina?”

She slowed and looked up at him.

“Erm…” He rubbed the back of his head, feeling slightly awkward about saying it aloud for the first time. “Well… Greed and I are dating now so I wanted you to know that-”

“S-so Greed is also g-gonna be my d-dad?”

Dolcetto’s heart warmed and he had a slightly shocked smile on his face- it was the first time Nina had really called him her dad even if it was a roundabout way of doing so. He chuckled, “Maybe... I’ll need to talk to him about that, okay?”

She nodded and started marching forward as she smiled, “T-two dads…”

Dolcetto was pleased by her happiness, not to mention the fact that she called him dad! His heart was soaring and he had a bounce in his step as he continued making the rounds. Humming along to a happy song, he rounded a corner-

Then he saw Bido, racing towards him and completely out of breath.

The chimeras eyes were wide with panic as he slowed to a dead stop in front of Dol, “Th-they saw me! They- they’re coming! We need to- to hide Nina and-”

Dolcetto placed both hands on Bido’s shoulders in an attempt to be reassuring, he spoke in a calm and smooth voice, “Bido, what’s going on? Who’s coming?”

Bido refused to meet the taller man’s eyes, he looked like he was about to cry and he kept his stare firmly on his feet, “I-I was walking and they saw m-me! I tried to b-be careful but they s-spotted me on a building and th-they started chasing m-me!”

“Bido, who’s following you?”

Bido glanced nervously behind his back for a second, deep breaths making his chest rise and fall sporadically. He looked back at Dolcetto, “Alchemists… they- they’re State Alchemists and they’re coming here and I- I’m sorry! I-I didn’t mean-”

“Hey, it’s going to be okay, I can handle this alright?”

Bido nodded but kept looking back towards the long corridor.

Dolcetto lightly patted his shoulder, “Okay, you said that they followed you?”

Bido nodded.

“Okay, get Nina to a safe spot and hide out there with her until I give the all clear, got it?” He turned to Nina, “Go with Bido and do what he says, okay?”

Nina nodded and began trailing Bido as he quickly walked deeper inside the building.

A voice could be heard echoing through the concrete walls, “He went this way!”

Whoever they were they were close. Dolcetto could hear the sound of heavy footsteps along with the tell-tale klang-klang-klang of armor on the floor. He braced himself for a fight, preparing to draw his katana from its sheath.

A small kid, perhaps no older than sixteen, rounded the corner. He was blonde, with large black army style boots and what was almost certainly an expensive red coat that fluttered behind him as he ran.

The teen was dwarfed by the hulking suit of armor that followed, so large that it likely had a few inches on even Roa.

The boy skidded to a halt and glared at Dolcetto, who glared right back at him. He pointed a gloved hand at the bodyguard in an accusatory fashion, “What did you do with the chimera? Come on, I know he went in here!”

Dolcetto said nothing and continued to unsheathe his sword in an obviously threatening manner.

The suit of armor looked at the teen, whoever was inside had a pretty high voice for being able to support such a large amount of metal, “Brother, we shouldn’t fight him… What if the chimera went somewhere else?”

“No. He went in here, that way…”

He trailed off as he looked into the hall behind Dolcetto.

The blonde looked like he’d seen a ghost and Dol turned around to see Nina a few feet behind him, wide eyes staring at the odd pair in front of them.

She took a tentative step forwards, “B-big brother, Ed?”

“Nina?”

Chapter Text

-Ed’s POV-

It was dusk and Ed and Al were sparring outside after dinner. Teacher and Sig had turned in early, they told the boys to shut the lights off when they were done and to not stay up too late.

Metal clanged against his boots as he landed an oddly good hit on Alphonse.

“Heh, you’re getting rusty Al! Just you wait, pretty soon I’ll win every match, won’t that be… um… Al?”

Al wasn’t actually looking at him though and he was completely still, he stared intensely at something in the distance. Ed followed his brothers gaze into the alleyway near where they stood and there, in the darkness with eyes glinting with light caught from the rising moon, was a man perched on a rooftop gazing at the moon.

Actually… to call him a man was wrong… so very wrong. What ever he was, he wasn’t human. Sprouting out of his back was a thick reptilian tail that swished in the pale moonlight.

“A chimera…” Alphonse said in breathless awe.

The man appeared to have noticed that eyes were now on him. He casually turned around and just about jumped out of his skin when he spotted the brothers. The chimera leapt up and started sprinting away, he jumped from one building to another with ease and grace.

“Hey! Wait a minute!” Ed bellowed before he began to sprint after the guy.

He could hear Alphonse behind him as he rounded a corner, he only just caught a glimpse of the chimera as he jumped from one roof to the next, he impossibly stuck to the slick shingles and crawled up the steep roof and out of sight.

Despite not having a visual, Ed was pretty sure he could manage to track him with ease. The chimera seemed to be on a path that was straight, no curve to it, which meant he was trying to get somewhere fast.

That somewhere was the outer edges of the city.

Ed started to run faster, desperate to make sure that his hypothesis was correct.

 

Ed panted as he watched the chimera disappear into a shandy looking bar called the Devil’s Nest. The moon was higher in the sky and stars shone brightly through wispy clouds that weakly promised rain.

Al slowed to a spot next to him. Ed looked at his brother and smiled widely, “I think we just found something that could help us get our bodies back.”

Alphonse seemed a little more uneasy but he weakly nodded his head with a metallic click anyway. “You sure he went in here?”

Ed was positive and he started running again, he barreled into the bar. There was no one in the front rooms or lounge so he headed deeper in, he found a maze of back rooms filled with all sorts of supplies and liquor. He turned back and yelled to Al, “He went this way!”

Alphonse loyally followed behind him as they raced deeper into what could very well be a den of incredibly dangerous chimera. He rounded the corner and slowed down when he saw a man crouched defensively in the middle of the halway. The man was dressed in a gi, black hair slicked back and pale eyes sharp and piercing. Ed could has swarn the guy was growling, a low rumble that filled the room.

The man also held a katana out in front of himself, he was trying to warn the boys off.

Ed glared at the guy and pointed at him, “What did you do with the chimera? Come on, I know he went in there!”

Frustratingly the man failed to answer, the only sound that filled the room were the odd growls and the sword as it continued to be unsheathed.

“Brother, we shouldn’t fight him… What if the chimera went somewhere else?” Again Al sounded unsteady, his little brother obviously didn’t want to be here.

Ed shook his head in disdain, “No. He went in here, that way…” He had turned to look deeper into the darkness behind the guy with the sword. And there in that black depth was a white shape that softly padded up a few feet behind the man. It’s slouched body and broken gait all to familiar.

But that was impossible because… it couldn’t be… there was no way...

He felt a pressure in his chest and a sharp stinging behind his eyes.

He couldn’t breathe.

The creature took a few more haphazard steps forwards and tilted it’s head slightly to one side, “B-big brother, Ed?”

No… it was… she was…

And yet here she was…

“Nina?”

Ed could feel any air he had left rush out of his lungs as he stared at the chimera. He could barely register his knees hitting the floor as he tried his best to understand how she was still alive. How if he knew… if he knew he would have kept her safe. Tears threatened to fall as she bounded over to him. Up close he could see the multitude of scars that married her face and paws, crossing the fur over her ribs.

Nina craned her head around to the center of his back and pulled him into a pseudo hug. She roughly nuzzled her face against his and he could fucking feel the scar tissue that he caused through his negligence. She was in more pain because of his actions and… and…

Rage filled him as he thought more on it. Someone hurt her. Like she needed any more violence in her life.

He clenched his fist as he stood, boring holes into the man with the sword who stared at Nina as she marched over to Alphonse.

The man looked military, thought his uniform wasn’t standard regulation. His teeth ground together as he walked towards the guy, vision turned red around the edges as the thought about Shou Tucker. As he thought about who could have hurt a little girl.

The strange man had stopped growling a while ago and his sword was back in it’s sheath. He watched apathetically as Ed made his way towards him. He held out a large hand, “You must be Edward and Alphonse, Nina’s told me so much ab-”

Ed needed someone else besides himself to blame and this man who knew more than he should seemed like a good enough fit, so Ed didn’t let him finish that sentence and he slammed his right hand into the guys face. There was a satisfying crunch of bone as the shockwaves caused the metal to reverberate in his socket.

“Brother!” Al yelled in shock.

The guy stumbled but refused to go down. His face was bloodied and his nose tilted awkwardly to one side. When he managed to regain his balance he grabbed his nose with two fingers and roughly put it back in place, he let out a sharp whine of pain as he did.

Nina raced over to the guy’s side, “D-dad, you o-okay?”

Ed balked, “What the hell does she mean by Dad? How do you know Nina? What the fuck did you do to her?”

The man was taking deep ragged breaths as if he was trying to calm himself down. He ignored Ed’s question entirely and spoke softly to Nina. “It’s okay, sweetheart. I’m okay.”

Ed was pissed at the prospect of being ignored, “Answer me!”

“Brother, calm down, violence isn’t the right option here! We don’t know the whole story, you need to be reasonable-”

“Reasonable? Nina was missing for years and this basard suddenly pops up out of nowhere with her? And that doesn’t seem suspicious to you?”

Al’s shoulder bunched together in obvious frustration, “Of course not! She called him dad, she must trust him-”

Ed snarled at his brother, “She called Tucker dad too. It means nothing.”

“This man isn’t Tucker! He’s gone, Ed!”

Edward turned away from his brother and back towards the man who was giving him a death glare. “I’m not going to ask this again, who are you?”

The man spit blood in his direction, lip raised and nose crinkled slightly with anger, he placed himself between Nina and Ed. “My name’s Dolcetto. I did my best to keep Nina safe in the labs until we were rescued. No thanks to you.”

Ed was taken aback, and he knew that he should probably apologize but his pride got the better of him so he didn’t. He just backed off and crossed his arms, staying out of Dolcetto’s personal space, “Then who rescued you?”

A deep rumbling voice came from the dark hall, glowing red eyes shining malevolently thought the black, “That would be me.”

 

-Dol’s POV-

His nose hurt like a mother fucker. The kid packed a punch, that was for sure, and there was no way that his arm was normal. The little bastard probably had armor or something akin to it under his god damned glove.

Blood pooled in his esophagus, threatening to choke him as he tried to steady his breathing. After the blow he felt a shift coming, the dog side of him just wanted to protect Nina and do away with these threats. But these boys… they weren’t really threats. They were Nina’s brothers, the one she talked so much about back in the laboratory. He couldn’t hurt them, they were practically family.

They bickered about something or other but he couldn’t focus on the pair properly as the sound of his own heartbeat pounded in his skull, dulling everything around him. He gently pet Nina’s soft fur and tried to force himself to calm down. He made sure to softly tell Nina that he was okay, he was going to be okay.

The boy- Edward- stepped toward Dol and the chimera only managed to catch the last of his sentence, “... who are you?”

Dolcetto spit at him despite his inner insistence on peace. He was still pissed about his broken nose and he directed Nina to stand behind him, and he knew that it was silly. Ed wasn’t a threat to Nina but at this point in time his instincts were too strong to battle with logic. “My name’s Dolcetto. I did my best to keep Nina safe in the labs until we were rescued. No thanks to you.”

He couldn’t help the venom that seeped in to his voice. Part of Dolcetto knew that Ed wasn’t to blame... but he was a state alchemist! The boy should have been able to do… to do something to have helped her avoid the lab and the torture.

Dolcetto glared the kid down as he backed up a step. He crossed his arms over his chest defensively, “Then who rescued you?” His voice was softer than before, it carried a somber tone of apology.

“That would be me.” Dolcetto could hear footsteps coming behind him in the hall, a familiar scent of brandy and gunpowder wafted towards him. Dol turned and there was Greed, his voice was rough and hyper-aggressive, his hands already stained black from that armor that covered his flesh.

Al took a step back, but Ed remained where he was. His arms were held up in a boxer position and he was crouched low to the ground… so the kid wanted a fight. “And who are you?”

Greed puffed his chest as he walked towards the kid, he stopped by Dolcetto’s side, defensively in front of Nina as well. “The name’s Greed, kid. I’m greedy. I don’t like other people hurting what’s mine. You’re a state alchemist right?”

Edward gave a short nod.

“Well,” Greed held up his left hand, “I’m a homunculus, and I’m guessing you know what those are.”

Alphonse audibly gasped, “Like Lust and Envy?”

“So you met the family, that’s just great. So you probably know that we’re hard to kill. I recommend you get out of here, pipsqueak. I really don’t want to have to fight some kids, but I will if I have to.”

“Hey!” Ed snapped, “Don’t call me a pipsqueak!”

“Oh my God! Have you ever seen yourself in a mirror! You’re what? Like twelve judging from height alone?”

“Okay that’s it!” Ed stepped aggressively forward towards Greed.

“Fine then,” the homunculus growled.

“Greed,” Dolcetto said sharply, which grabbed the man’s attention.

Greed stopped in his tracks, “What is it?”

Ed and Al had also stilled and Dolcetto gestured towards them, “These boys… they’re Nina’s brothers. We can’t fight them, alright?”

“Are you serious?” Greed looked surprised and his voice was quiet.

“Umm… pardon me,” Alphonse stepped meekly forwards, “But how do you know about us?”

Dolcetto patted Nina’s head, “She told me all about you two… all about her two big brothers, in… well, in the lab.”

“D-dad protected m-me!” Nina piped up, she scooted slightly closer to Dolcetto and leaned against the side of his leg.

Dol chuckled lightly and ruffled her hair, though his lighthearted smile lost some of its mirth as he glanced back up at the boys, “I did my best… given the circumstances.”

“Which lab were you in?” Ed asked, his voice noticeably softer than before.

“I... “ Dol started but hesitated, “I’m not quite sure actually… I didn’t really get a good look at the place before going in. Greed, do you know?”

Greed scratched the top of his head, “Um… I think that it was the fifth lab or something.”

Edward’s eyes widened, “Laboratory five?”

Greed nodded, “Yeah, that’s it.”

Ed paced around the hall, obviously thinking hard about the information, then he looked up at Dolcetto skeptically, “So what, you were a prisoner in there or something?”

“No,” Dolcetto shook his head, “I’m a chimera.”

“But you don’t have any animal features!” Alphonse argued, “You don’t look like Nina or even that guy from before… so how…?”

Dol shrugged, “I guess those scientists just got better at what they were doing.”

Ed still didn’t look quite satisfied but before he could say anything else, Greed took a step forward, “Hey, we answered two of your questions, I think it’s only fair that you answer a few of ours.”

Edward warilly looked Greed up and down before hesitantly saying, “Okay.”

“Why did you chase Bido down in the city? Why did you come here, to my bar, looking for a fight? What’s your angle?”

“That was three questions.” Edward birstled.

Al shook his head and stepped closer to Dolcetto and Greed, “We chased Bido down because we’re interested in correctly performed human transmutation. See, my brother and I attempted-”

“Alphonse!” Ed snapped.

“What?” The armor said incredulously, then he gestured at the chimeras and the homunculus, “They trusted us, so we can trust them!”

“That’s not how it works!”

“Equivalent exchange, brother!”

Ed huffed and crossed his arms like a scorned toddler, “Fine.”

Al nodded once at his brother before turning back to face the others, “Ed and I attempted human transmutation and…” He bent at the waist and grabbed at the white pony tail at the back of his head and lifted.

Dolcetto gasped, there was absolutely nothing inside, the metal was animated by itself. But, admittedly, he had seen stranger things before.

Alphonse placed his head back on his body, “It turned out badly. We just want our bodies back, and we need all the help that we can get.”

Greed nodded then cocked his head, “What do you mean, ‘we’?”

Edward sighed dramatically then rolled up the sleeve of his right arm.

Dolcetto growled out of instinct and put a hand up protectively over his nose, “Well, that explains it! Why not hit me with a nonmetal appendage?”

Ed balked, “I said I was sorry!”

 

“No you didn’t!”

Chapter Text

-Greed’s POV-

Greed sat next to Dolcetto in what could very well be the most awkward breakfast in the history of Devil’s Nest breakfasts’.

Edward and Alphonse decided that four in the morning was the best time to give their entire backstory, plus dramatic redemption arc and everything in between. Afterwards Greed said what he thought everyone else was thinking, it was late and he was tired and he wanted to sleep so the kiddos could sleep on the couch or something.

The brothers decided to spend the night then they woke up at the ungodly hour of eight in the morning.

Of course they had to wake Greed and Dolcetto up to talk to them.

And of course Roa had to be a gracious host and make them pancakes. Well, the pancakes were actually a positive part of the day but Greed was pissed at everything, he needs his beauty sleep, alright?

Greed was drinking his fifth glass of coffee, finally starting to not feel completely dead. Dolcetto looked like he was about to faceplant into his pancakes, his head kept bobbing up and down everytime he closed his eyes… it was pretty cute. Then there was Nina, lightly snoring by a sunny spot near a large window. Bido nervously eyed the two boys from across the room and refused to even go near the table. Ulchi and Martel were both sleeping like the dead and no one had the nerve to get them up and Greed was jealous.

Roa busied himself with making more pancakes than ever before, Edward was probably setting some new record with how much he was eating. It was pretty impressive, to be totally honest. Greed shook his head, annoyed, because the kid wasn’t impressive, he was downright annoying. He kept asking all these questions about the homunculi and chimeras.

“Why do some chimera have noticeable physical defects and others are completely human?” Ed spoke through a mouthful of pancake and it made Greed want to bend his fork in half, luckily he didn’t. Martel probably went through a lot to steal all the silver.

“First, chew, swallow, then talk. You weren’t raised in a barn. At least, I don’t think that you were, so if I’m wrong please know I’m not trying to be insensitive or whatever... “ Greed cleared his throat, trying to keep himself on track, “And I dunno kiddo, I’m not an alchemist, remember? All that technical mumbo jumbo is up to you, right?”

Ed pouted, “Okay, fine, then what about you? Why do you have separate powers from your siblings?”

Greed set his fork down with a clatter, which accidently spooked Dolcetto who had managed to fall asleep sitting up. Again, it was cute. “Okay, some of the powers make sense, yeah? Envy can shapeshift to make themselves look like something other than the gross palm tree that they are. Wrath- while still a douche canoe- can be a total badass sometimes and can see weaknesses easily, and Gluttony can literally eat anything! Meanwhile Lust can make her fingers into pointy spears? It’s weird. It’s like Father had some good ideas for all the sins but then when it came to me he was all like, ‘lets make him have a weird shield that covers his beautiful face’! See what I mean, makes no sense.”

Ed started digging into his seventh batch of pancakes, yeah for sure he was setting a record here. His eyebrows were slightly furrowed as he thought. He chewed contemplatively for a few beats before swallowing then asking his next question, “So what do you all have in common?”

“Besides dark hair, you mean?” Greed jested, pointy smile falling as he was met with a glare from the blonde midget. “Okay, dude, you’re no fun, are you? Umm… I guess the only thing would be that, besides Wrath… it think, we’re all retroactively immortal. I mean, not fully immortal? With us the term, kill it with fire, is really the only thing you should take to heart.”

Dolcetto looked at Greed, eyes half lowered with exhaustion. He was half pouting at the homunculus, “Wait a second… Greed how old are you?”

“Around two-hundred, why?”

That certainly woke Dol up, “Wait, wait, wait a second. You, all young and spry, are two-hundred years old?”

Greed shrugged, “I do have the mental age of a cocky twenty year old, if that helps.”

Dolcetto ran his hand down his face and nodded slowly. He grabbed his cup of coffee and downed it in one go, “Roa, could you please get me some more coffee?” Dol hollered, facing towards the kitchen.

“Comin right up!” Roa yelled right back.

Greed was a little worried about Dol’s reaction, and he nudged his boyfriend’s shoulder lightly, “Babe, you okay?”

Dol nodded again, then smiled, “I’m half dog, my daughter’s a chimera, and you’re older than dirt.” He lovingly squeezed Greed’s hand, “Weirder things have probably happened.”

Greed smiled right back at him.

Ed cleared his throat because apparently Ed had something against Greed’s happiness. “So I also wanted to ask about-”

Just then the front door to the bar got kicked down by some lady. She wore a long white shirt that reached her knees, black pants, and her dreadlocked hair was up in a high ponytail. She was also incredibly loud. “WHERE THE HELL ARE EDWARD AND ALPHONSE, YOU GOOD FOR NOTHING RUFFIANS, I’M GONNA-”

She seemed to notice them sitting at the table just then and her demeanor changed in an instant. “Oh, hello, boys. Where have you been?”

Her voice was overly sweet and it was probably safe to say that everyone in the room was scared shitless. That one hundred percent included Ed and Al.

“G-good morning, teacher.” Al gave a weak little wave, his voice was shaking really hard, despite his noticeable lack of vocal chords. “How- how are you?”

“Oh me? Oh I’m doing great! I only had a heart attack this morning when you two were missing. Then, I had to go searching through all of Dublith to find you! My feet are killing me and I had to leave work for multiple hours to come here! So I’m doing great!”

Alphonse looked down, “Well, that’s good-”

The lady swooped around the table and smacked both boys upside the head, “THAT WAS SARCASM YOU IDIOT!”

Greed shakily raised his hand, worried about getting smacked as well. He wasn’t sure why she struck such terror in him, but she did, and he did not want to get on her bad side. She glared at him and his stupid hand… okay, he was definitely already on her shit list. “Excuse me, ma’am, but who are you?”

“I’M A HOUSEWIFE!”

 

-Dol’s POV-

The angry lady’s name was Izumi. She seemed pretty cool with everyone after realizing that the boys were unharmed. She was even calm when she learned that the bar was staffed by exclusively chimera and a homunculus. Apparently she had a hunch.

She even apologized for Ed’s behaviour and then proceed to smack him upside the head when she heard he punched Dol with his automail arm.

She told the whole bar staff that they were welcomed at her store anytime, and she reluctantly agreed to let Ed and Al come by at least twice a week to visit Nina. They could come everyday if they were good.

Before leaving Ed went up to Roa, “Thank you for breakfast! It was awesome!”

Roa chuckled, “I am delighted to hear that. We have pancakes every Tuesday, so you are more then welcome to come by!”

Ed beamed, making him look much more like the kid he was, “Thanks, I’ll have-”

Izumi sent a cold glare at Ed, which got the kid to spin around and run towards the front door where the aggressive woman stood akimbo. He turned around one more time, before leaving the bar, “See you guys later!”

Alphonse waved as well, before ducking out the door.

Roa was grinning, “They are good boys, I hope we get to see them soon-”

“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU IDIOTS! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, STORMING IN THERE LIKE THAT? YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN YOURSELVES KILLED!”

Dolcetto honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if her voice had actually managed to make the floorboards shake.

Greed looked at Dol, eyebrows slightly lowered with worry, “You think they’ll live?”

Chapter Text

A week later Dolcetto was doing his rounds, tiredly walking around the bar and making sure that everything was fine. It was midnight and all the patrons were calm, spare Rikky who almost threw a glass on the ground, but Roa gave him a vaguely disappointed look so Rikky slowly put the bottle back down.

Dol casually leaned against a door frame near the back of the bar.

The place was filled with regulars, either sitting quietly or talking quietly among themselves. Everyone just wanted to relax tonight and that was something Dolcetto could definitely get behind.

The past few days weren’t bad, but they were busy.

The Elric boys managed to come over three times and each day they spent several hours talking to Nina and telling her stories and tall tales of all that they have done and seen. About strange princes that they met and brave men and women who they worked with. In turn she told them stories from the bar, about the time Greed made her a crown of flowers and about how she liked to sleep over with Martel. She also made sure to introduce them to Mr. Bunny. Ed and Al both made a concerted effort to talk to the small plushie and Nina was all too happy to speak for her small friend.

Greed had been swamped with excess paperwork and inventory details that had been overlooked in his absence. A whole week is a long time to be gone and supply runs and convoluted orders managed to take up another seven days.

Seven days of not being able to spend much time with Dol, or anyone for that matter.

And Dolcetto understood, he seemed to be in the same boat now, helping Martel clean around the bar or making grocery runs with Roa or repairing whatever happened to be broken with Ulchi. But it still sucked. He just stared… started dating the guy? Started being the guys boyfriend? Whatever it was, it was new and Dol felt like he was neglecting something by not talking to Greed more. Like he was failing somehow. But he didn’t want to interrupt Greed and his work because the boss was almost certainly working hard to keep the whole bar afloat. To drag him away from that would be selfish, right?

Dolcetto wanted to do something nice for Greed, get something nice for him perhaps, but it was difficult. What should you do for someone who admitted to wanting everything?

Dol lightly huffed and continued to scan the bar morosely.

 

One o’clock rolled around and everyone cleared out. Seemed like even Rikky thought he should at least try to be slightly sober- or at least get some sleep- before the work day tomorrow. Dolcetto finished his rounds around the supply halls and back of the bar quickly before heading back in.

He spotted Roa, the older guy was obviously tired and sweeping the kitchen alone. Dol felt sympathetic so he approached the big guy, “Hey, I got the rest of this, you go get some rest.”

Roa raised his eyebrows, “You sure?”

Dolcetto rolled his eyes, “Yes, I’m sure, now hand the broom over.”

Roa smirked then compiled, “Thank you.”

Dol grinned, “Don’t mention it.”

Roa clapped Dolcetto on the back then headed off to his room.

Dol sighed then set about sweeping the rather large kitchen. Thankfully it wasn’t all that messy and he managed to get most of it done before one thirty.

He yawned, exhausted, wanting to get to bed as soon as possible and leaned on the broom for a split second. He could feel himself almost fall asleep standing and almost couldn’t find it in himself to care. He gently brushed off the friendly darkness, knowing from experience that standing and sleeping didn’t exactly mix well.

He forced himself to get back to work-

Two hands snaked around his waist with no warning.

Dolcetto jumped and turned around lightening fast, smacking the assailant with the broom handle.

Greed reeled back, holding a hand to his face, “What the hell, babe?”

Dolcetto put his face in his hand, “Oh my god, oh my- Boss, you okay? I’m so sorry-”

Greed waved his hand in dismissal, “You’re fine! I just didn’t expect to be assaulted by my boyfriend in my kitchen.”

“Well, I didn’t expect you to jumpscare me in the kitchen.”

Greed chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck, “I thought you heard me coming.”

Dol sighed and set the broom down on a counter near him, “Obviously not.” He ran a hand down his face, “I’m kinda out of it.”

“You alright?”

Dolcetto shrugged, “Just tired, it’s been a busy week.”

“Tell me about it,” Greed huffed, then took a few steps towards Dol. Greed gently cupped Dolcetto’s face in his hands, “I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever.”

Dol smirked and wrapped his arms around Greed’s neck. “Well then, why don’t you make it up to me?”

Greed leaned forward and peppered Dol’s face in light kisses before finally settling in on his lips. The kiss was slow and sweet and everything Dolcetto longed for in the past week.

Dol melted into it and leaned on Greed, pressing up against his chest.

“I missed you,” Greed whispered in a low rumble, voice gravelly but somehow velvet at the same time.

Dolcetto rolled his eyes with a smile then leaned in for another kiss.

 

The morning sun filtered through the window and it probably would have been nice if it didn’t hit Dolcetto right in the eyes. He groaned and rolled over, pressing his face into the mattress.

Greed slowly lifted his head to investigate the reason his pillow moved. The sun decided to be an asshole and it hit him in the eyes too. He hissed, “Fuckin’ sun.”

“I know right?” Dol grumbled. Before closing his eyes and trying desperately to fall asleep again.

Greed twisted around to look at the clock on his wall, “Dol.. it’s two.”

“What about it?”

Greed shook him lightly, “We should get some food. Come on babe, its-”

A shock rippled through the room, followed by what sounded like a large gunshot. Part of the wall closest to bar ripped apart. Greed rolled on top of Dolcetto to shield him from the shrapnel, bright red electricity crackling in the now dust filled room.

Dolcetto coughed roughly, then his eyes snapped open, his mind encompassed by one thing. “Nina.” He shoved Greed off.

Dolcetto leaped out of bed and sprinted into the bar, “Nina? Nina, where are you?”

Roa coughed viciously in the corner, face cut apart and bleeding profusely onto the tiled floor below. He shook and pointed a finger towards the kitchen, “Sh- she’s in there.”

Dolcetto raced into the kitchen, remembering to go back and make sure everyone else was okay. But right now he needed to find to find his baby girl. His Nina.She had to be okay. She needed to be okay.

She had to be.

She just had to.

“Nina!” His voice was raw, bleeding with panic.

In a dark corner of the room, covered in the collapsed rubble of the ceiling, he heard a soft whining. Stilted and agonized. One he recognized all too well.

He tried to claw his way through the collapsed plaster and stone and metal, but he was too weak. With no second though he felt his skin ripple and shift, giving way to white fur and stronger muscles. He ripped though the rubble easily, finally finding a small pale body in the center of it all.

Nina’s breath was halting and ragged, she looked right at Dol but right through him at the same time. She looked concussed. A quick check of her ribs, she had several fractures. Her nose was bleeding and one of her legs twisted painfully to the side.

Dolcetto couldn’t fucking breathe.

Each time he tried to pick the small girl up she whimpered and cried, unable to articulate her pain. He couldn’t move her far, fear of damaging her broken bones allowed him to set her gently down in a small area on the ground that didn’t have any debris.

He heard heavy footsteps coming by the door. He protectively placed himself in front of Nina, growling fiercely at the intruders.

Ed walked slowly into the room, arms held up, “Dolcetto?” He asked, obviously unsure of himself, he swallowed, “Dolcetto, I’m here to help. Are you injured? Where is Nina?”

Dol stopped growling and moved back to show the small lump of white under him.

“Oh, Jesus-”

Dolcetto could feel the sides of his muzzle damped with tears, “Fix her.”

Edward paled, “I-I don’t know if I can, bio-alchemy isn’t my thing-”

“You have to try!” Dolcetto shouted, that growl filling his voice again. “Please… please just try,” He said, kneeling down to comfort the girl as best as he could by gently petting her dark hair and softly telling her what a good girl she was.

Ed nodded and walked up to Nina. He knelled on the other side of her, taking steadying breaths and closing his eyes. He let his mismatched hands hover over her shivering body, blue lightning crackling and illuminating the dark and dusty room.

The twisted leg snapped back in place, followed by a howl of agony from Nina. Dolcetto felt like puking hearing the sickening sound, but he stayed firmly planted where he was, making sure she moved as little as possible while talking to her about nothing and everything. About flowers and butterflies and Mr. Bunny. Anything to keep her mind off of pain of her ribs being reset and unbroken.

In the end, Nina passed out from shock. But another check revealed that her ribs were back together and the leg was healed. Unfortunately there was no quick heal for the concussion. She would need to wake up for Dolcetto to be able to assess the damage.

Dol looked at Ed, gratitude for the small state alchemist filling his chest, “Thank you.”

Ed nodded once before he stood and went back into the bar to help heal the rest.

Dolcetto stayed by Nina’s side, letting her slack head rest on his knees, telling her how brave and good she was. Telling her how good her brothers were. How much he loved her.

 

The heavy chunk of c4 was detonated at approximately one forty-five. Placed at the front entrance, those most affected were those in the kitchen and main lounge.

By some miracle there were no casualties.

Inspection of the area the bomb went off revealed a singular scrap of paper. On it, the two words “Crimson Tide”.

This meant war.

Chapter Text

“I’m going after them.” Dolcetto’s words were nothing but a deep growl. They’d been camped out at the Curtis shop for days now. Dol had been unable to leave before as he and Greed were the only two who managed to escape without serious injury and they were needed to protect the rest. But now, Roa and Martel were well enough to fight and guard the others.

“Dol,” Greed started, voice uncharacteristically soft, “You should stay here. I can handle this-”

“And I can’t? They hurt my Nina, there’s no way I’m going to stay here one more night.”

Greed’s eyebrows furrowed though he wasn’t upset or angry, just concerned. “Last time we faced off against them you got shot. I don’t want to risk you getting hurt again-”

“You got shot to!”

“Well, that’s different Dol! Fucking hell, if you were shot in the head you wouldn’t still be standing like I am. I don’t want to lose you, okay? Can’t you understand that?”

“Of course I can! Nina, Martel, Roa, Ulchi, Bido. I couldn’t stand to lose any of them, and neither could you. We didn’t finish our job the first time, so let’s do it right this time. Or else they could hurt them again.”

Greed bit his lip, shifted his weight on his long legs. He sighed like he just lost some sort of internal battle then pinched the bridge of his nose, “When do you want to leave?”

“Now.”

 

This time the gang was so much harder to find. They covered their tracks well. Every person Greed or Dolcetto questioned offered either insubstantial clues or nothing at all. Days went by spent in a futile goose chase.

Quiet hung heavy over Hotel bedrooms whenever Greed managed to convince the chimera to settle down long enough to sleep. Greed would try to talk or joke around or anything to break the silence, but his words would end up falling on deaf ears. Dolcetto just lay curled on his side of the bed, mind racing as he thought of all the ways he messed up enough to let his kid get hurt like that. About how helpless he would have been if that golden haired alchemist hadn’t shown up with his magic healing. Nina could have died and nothing but knowing that the threat was eliminated would remove the cold feeling of guilt that strangled Dol in every waking hour. Crept into his nightmares when he finally managed to catch some rest.

Old visions of white fur matted with blood would startle the chimera from his dream, pulling him back into the world after too few hours of sleep. Greed would roll over in a desperate and borderline lost attempt to comfort, but no amount of sweet nothings or strong arms wrapped around his waist could quell Dolcetto’s panic for very long. So soon they would leave and continue their search.

This sick pattern of fear and crushing disappointment cycled over and over. For days or weeks, Dol wasn’t very sure. The passage of time no longer had much bearing on how he saw the world. All that was left was him and his seemingly unattainable goal.

Greed and Dolcetto trudged through the oppressive heat for so long. Talking to shop owners and working girls and waitresses and bartenders. Some knew a small piece of information on the fairly large gang, but these clues kept leading to dead end after dead end.

At night now, Dol would nuzzle into the solid warmth of Greed’s chest. A mild balm for the rising feelings of oppressive failure. The hand carding itself through his raven hair calmed him down enough to push the nightmares back, if not for the whole night then at least for a few hours.

 

Dolcetto was tired, bags hung heavy under his eyes as he trudged up to an old diner. A mom and pop place that seemed to have been there for generations, in good hands too from the way the old brick building looked. Ivy climbed up the sides, giving the place a rustic look despite being locked in the heart of the city. Soft eggshell white curtains blowed softly in the wind as he and Greed entered.

This was not the sort of place they normally looked for clues or tips. Their waitress looked like she was no more than fifteen, dark brown hair in curled pigtails, face covered in a light dusting of freckles. She did not seem like the type of girl to know a single thing about a gang like Crimson Tide- or any gang for that matter.

But Dol was exhausted and nothing but desperate for something- anything- so he just went right out and asked, “Hey,” He looked at her name tag, penmanship of beautifully looping lines and curves, “Macy… do you anything about a group named Crimson Tide?”

She stalled as she poured coffee, her bright green eyes widened, lips pursed tightly together. Ah, so she did know something after all.

She stood and shifted minutely on her feet. Eyebrows furrowed, “How do you know about that name, mister?” She had a slight accent, drawling and sweet, though her tone now was much colder than it was when she was asking to take their order.

Dolcetto shifted his eyes at Greed who was also at attention now, back unusually straight as he watched Macy intently. “We’ve had some... problems with them as of late.” The chimera chose not to elaborate too far on the matter.

The waitress bit the inside of her cheek, “Dad doesn’t like to talk about ‘em… but they come by here sometimes. They offer us protection from I don’t know what, and Dad pays ‘em. They’ve made trouble here too… before.” The way she looked away told Dol that she also didn’t want to tell everything. That was fine. She’d told him plenty.

“So… about how often do they come by here?”

“Umm, every few weeks. They haven’t been by in a solid month, so I reckon that they might pop on in real soon.”

Dolcetto grinned, he just couldn’t help it, “Thank you, Macy.”

Sure they had leads that went completely cold before, but they never came this close to a place that known members visited.

This was nothing short of a miracle.

 

Dolcetto and Greed stayed by that diner for several days, waiting around, questioning some people though they were trying not to do it to the point where it caused unwanted attention. On the sixth day, as the sun began to set, the two shared a small booth in the back corner of the diner, and a group of six people came into the bar.

The leader of the small squad was a garish man, his eyebrow pierced along with is bottom lip, sleeveless shirt an obnoxious light blue with it’s collar popped, spiking upwards towards his jaw line. On his arm was a tattoo, orange and red and dark against his pale skin. It was a wave of fire.

Dolcetto’s jaw clenched and his hands curled viciously around the mug he was holding. He was about to stand, ready to fight, more than ready to spill blood for the safety of his family, but Greed grabbed his wrist firmly, keeping him planted at the table. “Not yet, if we fight them now we’ll just put Macy and the rest of the good people here at risk. We need to wait for them to leave, find their hideout, and strike.”

The chimera took a deep grounding breath. “Fine.” It came out as more of a growl than anything else. They were right fucking there, he could just- No. Greed was right, of course he was. It was far too dangerous to attack the members now, and it didn’t make sense. This was only six people, it was very likely that there were more where they came from.

“What can I get you gentlemen?” The bartender asked, his name was Harris, Macy’s father, his left arm was stuck in a sling, tight against his broad chest. The way he looked at the man who just walked in, eyes wide and the friendly grin he usually wore not quite there, the way his voice held a noticeable shake... there was no way in hell Harris fell off a ladder and broke his arm like he said.

No, the Crimson Tide had a history of damaging families.

The though sent a wave of rage trough Dolcetto, but he didn’t growl, didn’t act on it because to do do would be to cause more pain for Macy’s family. He could save these people too when he and Greed finally got rid of this menace.

“Get me and the boys six pints. On the house, yeah mate? A little payment for our hard work, fair is fair wouldn’t ya agree Harry?” The man had a shit eating grin and his eyes glinted in the artificial light of the diner.

“Of course, Leo.” Harris had his head bowed, no longer making eye contact with the thug.

“Well then get to it then, and make it snappy, yeah!”

 

The men stayed in the bar for hours. The whole time Dolcetto was itching for a fight, to end this fucking thing once and for all. But Greed calmly held onto his shaking hand and watched the gang members in the bar in the corner of his vision that whole time.

The thugs were rowdy all night. Loud and slobbering drink towards the end. One of them, their makeshift leader- Leo- went so far as to verbally harass Macy- “Show us yer tits!”- and when she ran off into the kitchen it threw the group into a fit of hysterics like it was the funniest thing in the whole damn world. Greed held onto Dol’s hands harder then, but this time it felt a lot less like he was trying to keep the chimera in place and more like he was steadying himself so he didn’t rip their throats out right then and there.

Dolcetto could more than understand the sentiment.

 

The men leave and Dolcetto and Greed do the same seconds after, throwing money onto the table and leaving enough to more than cover the gang’s meal as well.

In the calm night, the men are not hard to keep track of. They fight and bicker like friends as they stumble down the dark roads, weaving between the street lights and finally settling on a road that leads into sold darkness.

Dolcetto and Greed have no problem following them down here, thanks to their advanced night vision. The group jokes in the darkness as one pulls out a flashlight and they remain completely oblivious to their followers.

After twenty minutes of walking they approach a warehouse, not unlike the one that they stormed oh so long ago. The group makes their way inside the old rusty building and for a second the night becomes quiet once again, the silence only broken by intervals of gently howling wind and cricket chirps.

Then the homunculus and the chimera enter the building and muffled screams and gunshots fill the air.

Then everything is quiet again.

 

Greed questioned Leo, asking if there were more of the Crimson Tide scattered across the city. The homunculus promised to give him a painless death if he answered, but Leo seemed to be a strong one. But eventually he broke after further convincing, gave the names of two more warehouses in the same neighborhood, then Greed held true to his promise.

 

By the end of it all three warehouses in Dublith were on fire and Greed and Dolcetto were covered in blood, a horrifying mix of their own and countless others.

The Crimson Tide was gone forever. If anyone was left, and that was a big “if”, they would know full well who did this, and only an idiot would come after Dol or his family ever again.

 

When the pair made it home, washed and with a new set of clothes stolen off of some poor nobody’s drying rack, Nina knocked Dolcetto over in her wonderful version of a hug, nuzzling his chest and worrying over the wounds littered across his arms.

He rubbed her hair and told her that he was fine. More than fine now.

Everyone wanted to know what happened, and Greed told then that they were safe for good now. He didn’t elaborate, but for now he didn’t need to. There would be enough time for that later, much later, after he got food and slept in his own bed and held his boyfriend and cuddled with his daughter like he wanted to for so long now.