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Gays of the Night

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The Elric brothers had arrived in Central City.

Even if he didn’t belong to a coven, Greed knew that much. It was always a big deal when new State Hunters were appointed, and this time there were two at once. Most vampires made it into a joke, with how young the two were. What, nineteen and seventeen? It was laughable. Don’t underestimate us, spoke that irritating voice in the back of his head, the Hunter named Ling whose body Greed stole about two decades prior.

“Fuck off,” Greed told him, “And what do you mean, ‘us’, you’re a vampire too last time I checked.”

Ling was quiet, and Greed went back to scouring the cityscape. He doubted the brothers would hunt their very first night in the city, but he wanted to be the first to show them what city vampires were like. Apparently, they had lived in the country their whole lives. How they managed to get their state certificate with only experience with those backwards country monsters was lost on Greed. Rumor had it that they had almost annihilated the vampires down there, with a kill list stacking in the hundreds. Greed didn’t buy it.

He wanted to find out what these Hunters were made of. Literally, as well. He hadn’t eaten in a while.

Strictly speaking, Edward wasn’t supposed to be out roaming Central City’s streets. He’d actually been expressly told not to go out hunting that night, that he’d be given an assignment tomorrow and that he and Al would be shown the ropes, so to speak. To his credit, Ed managed to stay inside for at least 30 minutes after his brother had fallen asleep before slipping out the window. He had at least listened to one thing he’d been told that day, which was that he shouldn’t be hunting alone. That was why he’d taken Sasha out with him!

Sasha was a small, thin thing, looking like a cross between a doberman and a whippet. She wasn’t overly large but she was solid black with big pointed ears that twitched on top of her head, taking in noises from all around. Her quick, lithe form slipped in and out of the shadows as she trailed her human. They weren’t hunting exactly. Edward was just poking around.

He had never taken especially well to listening to people. Someone would probably drag him through central and point out what street corners were most well known for vampire attacks in the morning. But he preferred to explore his future hunting grounds on his own, learning better through experience than lecture.

When they came to a corner, sasha paused, leaning forward a little with her ears up. Her nose twitched wildly and a line of fur stood up along her back. Ed paused, watching her and then flicking back the side of his dark red coat to settle his hand on the pistol at his hip.

“What is it?” he asked quietly. In response the dog jumped forward, toward a wall where someone had left a couple bags of trash next to a trash can. There came a loud squeal that cut through the relative quiet of the city streets that made Ed groan. It was just a rat. Of all the things!

“Sasha! Heel,” he said in a firm but quiet voice, making the dog lift her head up, pink tongue lolling out of her mouth. She came easily enough, plopping down and looking up at him with her big brown eyes, skinny tail thumping against the concrete. “You’re a highly trained dog, bred to hunt vampires, not rats!”

Edward leaned down a little as he scolded the dog, speaking to her like a child. She let out a quiet, chuffing sort of noise. He had only heard her bark once in his entire time of having her. The dogs they used to hunt vampires in the country had been specially bred for agility, as well as their keen noses and hearing. They also went through a great deal of training to discourage any actual barking. Despite their very dangerous and important job, that didn’t stop them from being dogs. Goofy, sweet dogs that sometimes liked to play around and attack rats when there wasn’t a dire threat about.

Greed saw the dog first, pretty far down the block. Stray dogs weren’t rare in Central, so Greed didn’t pay much attention until he saw the dog turn back to look around the corner. Sure enough, a few seconds later a person rounded the corner.

A grin stretched across the vampire’s face and he crouched down, still waiting on the rooftop of a building pretty far away. This had to be one of the brothers. Hunters never hunted alone, unless they had a death wish, or were one of those with a blood-sucking kink they didn’t want anyone else to know about.

The dog was new. As they got closer, Greed got the feeling that it was some sort of hunting dog. Once he thought about it, he thought he remembered someone saying something about vampire hunting dogs down in the country. It made him uneasy. What exactly did they do? He was sure he could kill a dog quickly, but humans were too smart to breed a dog to attack a vampire. Especially in the country, where those wild vampires could cut through flesh like butter. Probably to detect one, Ling offered.

“Fuck,” Greed whispered. Part of what made hunting so easy in the city was that humans never saw it coming. Even if they had all their senses open and alert, there was no preparing for an attack. He couldn’t kill the dog either, because that would certainly get the Hunter’s attention. Killing it after the attack started would be useless too, if the dog really was only for detection purposes. Leave it to humans to make such a pain in the ass.

The wind was blowing in his hair, and he thought quickly. If the Hunter duo used smell, he might be able to lure them into an alley with the wind. He waited until they were about a hundred feet away, then silently retreated behind him. Hopefully the wind would carry his scent towards the street, even if he wasn’t on the ground. It was always best to have the high ground until the thrall was in place.

Edward dropped into a crouch and sighed, unable to resist puppy face being directed at him. He ran his hands over Sasha’s face, rubbing along her snout and over her eyes. With his automail he had to be careful but she shoved her face further into his palms and stretched up to lick at his chin a couple times. Laughing, he pushed her away and stood up. Al would’ve been annoyed with him for loving on Sasha after going after a rat but he just couldn’t help it. She just looked so damn cute and proud of herself.

As a wind blew through, brushing back Ed’s bangs, Sasha suddenly perked her ears up and twisted around. The fur on the back of her neck stood up again. For a moment the hunter thought it was just the rat again, but she was much more rigid and serious as she sniffed for the scent that the wind had brought her. She blew a hard breath out through her nose before rising to her feet and darting down the street.

Ed was fast on her heels, gun drawn and pointed toward the ground as he followed after the dog. His golden eyes were sharp as they darted from one shadow to the next, keeping an eye out for whatever had piqued his pooch’s senses. Between the mouth of an alleyway and the corner they’d come from she got a bit confused, circling a couple times with her nose in the air, rather than the ground. Then another puff of wind blew their way and she was off again.

Whens he got to the alley she paused next to the wall rather than break cover. Her ears were strained forward and she let out a rough exhale and lifted a paw as she pointed Edward toward the darkened, little inlet. Taking a breath the vampire hunter paused to touch the top of Sasha’s head. He held up his hand once he had her attention and curled it into a fist. She sat, shifting restlessly.

The quietest little whine escaped her as Edward stepped into the Alley, gun leveled in front of him as he peered into the dark. Licking his lips, he smiled, unable to see anything just yet.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” he called, voice low and slightly mocking. “I know someone’s back there. My dog’s nose doesn’t lie.” Privately he hoped that this didn’t turn out to be another rat.

As if reading his mind a cat yowled, jumping onto the rattling metal lid of a mostly empty garbage can before diving to the ground and shooting between Edward’s legs. He let out a startled yelp and stumbled over the poor beast, twisting around to watch as it took off down the street, leaving his back exposed to the alley. He almost expected Sasha to run out from her hiding place and roll the cat as it darted past but she held her position, nose trembling and ears perked. So it wasn’t the cat she’d been sniffing after then…

Perfect, Greed thought, holding back a snicker. He felt almost giddy when the Hunter taunted him. This was like digging up gold. He waited until the Hunter was right beneath him, then administered his thrall.

Had the Hunter ever been enthralled before? He knew that wild vampires had thralls, but they were weak and focused on fear to paralyze the target. Civilized vampires pretty much depended on their thralls to hunt, though their strength was decent backup. Each one was different, but usually based on taking down the target’s defenses. Greed was pretty proud of his own thrall; it filled the target with warmth and made them jelly-limbed and satiated. Even the most hard-headed Hunters he’d fought took a while to break out of it. Did this Hunter even know about this kind of thrall?

Once his thrall was in place, Greed slid down from the roof. ”Well hello there, beautiful,” he said, speaking only within the Hunter’s mind.

In his own head, there was a sort of spasm from Ling. Wait, he’s hot.

“Stay where you are, this is my meal,” Greed said to Ling, knowing the Hunter couldn’t hear his voice. He ignored Ling’s inappropriate whining for the moment.

It happened so suddenly that Edward barely had a moment to question what happened to him. He’d been watching the cat one second, and then the next the hair stood on the back of neck with the sudden sensation of being watched. The warmth came next, slowing his movements as he went to snap around and see just what was leaving him feeling so stalked. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before. The tingle down his spine changed to an almost hot slide of something that buzzed through his entire being. His last coherent thought was that it felt as if he’d been dipped into a tub of warm honey.

And then there was that voice. It and its owner were enthralling. The only thing that seemed to exist in his head was the lightest surface thoughts. Tall. Dark. Handsome… Strange.

Something deep inside nudged at him because as sweet and smooth as it sounded, there was something wrong. The man that had slithered out of the shadows wasn’t moving his mouth. The voice was coming from inside his head. Well that wasn’t right. That being said, he couldn’t stop the flush that crept up his neck when he heard the man call him beautiful. Except…. He wasn’t beautiful. For one, he wasn’t a girl. Beautiful was not the word he’d use. And second of all… well he just wasn’t beautiful.

The man started to talk to himself, mouth moving, though his words sounded like they were coming to Ed as if through water. They barely even sounded like words at all. There was that nudge again, a tug at his consciousness that was trying to tell him something was wrong. What had they said before. Don’t… Don’t leave the room. Don’t hunt alone.. But why?

His face twitched slightly, nose wrinkling as he tried to pull together a thought. Why shouldn’t he be hunting alone? He wasn’t alone. He had Sasha. Sasha had lead him to the alley. She’d caught a scent. Vampire. She’d smelled a vampire. Edward swayed slightly and slowly shook his head. Vampires… Vampires. They’d said. City vampires… had a thrall? He made a questioning noise and tried to force some coordination into his limbs. It was so hard, though. All he wanted to do was relax and listen to that voice that had spoke before.

Ling was having a breakdown.

Greed did his best to ignore it, but the ex-prince was begging to front. That was how Greed knew he was desperate; the large majority of the time, Ling never begged for anything. He demanded it.

Let me out! I can do it! Please, oh God, please, let me kiss him, I can do it—

The Hunter was struggling, and Greed could feel his thoughts pushing through the thrall. This is a smart one, Greed noticed. He kept his thrall steady and stayed a short distance away to avoid frightening him. Having taken note of the Hunter’s reaction to the word ‘beautiful,’ he tweaked his approach. ”What’s a handsome young man like you doing out here,” he continued, ”Didn’t they tell you not to hunt alone? If you’re not careful, you might get into trouble. But don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I’m not part of any coven to steal you away. I’m just a bit hungry, and it’s not every day I come across a man as... impressive as you.” He dared to step a bit closer, making sure to keep his body language non-threatening. He looked the Hunter up and down. ”Oh, wow, you really are breathtaking. I wonder how many of my kind you’ve killed? You must be so strong... Would you allow me to have a drink? No one will know. And I can make it worth your while.” Greed finally reached the Hunter and very gently caressed his neck, relishing in the involuntary shiver it caused.

I swear to every God in this universe, Ling moaned wantonly in the back of Greed’s mind, but he didn’t finish. They both knew that the Hunter would kill them if Ling fronted. I want him to kill me, Ling continued.

Thirsty bitch, Greed thought. He didn’t say it, though. He had a job to do, even if he halfway agreed with Ling’s desires. The Hunter was attractive…

It was so hard to move. Edward swayed back slightly but that was all he could manage. The voice filled his mind again and he smirked lazily at what it had to say. If he’d been fully in control of himself he would’ve rebuffed the flattery with some snide comment. As it was he was a little drunk off the vampire’s thrall and found it a bit easier to simply enjoy the praise.

“Trouble’s my middle name,” he said aloud, voice slow and holding very little of his usual snark.

In the hazy cloud of warmth that had fogged his mind, what the vampire was saying made perfect sense. Or maybe he just wasn’t listening too well. It was just so hard to focus. He knew that the man in front of him wasn’t just a man. As he stepped closer Edward knew that he should be fighting, running, doing something other than just standing there and basking in that dark, enticing voice in his head. The hand that stroked against his neck was a cool break in the warm feeling but it wasn’t unpleasant. Edward’s eyes widened slightly and goosebumps pimpled up under the trail of those cold fingers.

Why was he supposed to not want this man to touch him again? He couldn’t help shivering and leaning forward just a little. There was a sweet, kind of dopey smile on his face as his eyes absently roamed over the vampire’s face. If not for the high pitched, coyote-like bark that echoed down the alley Edward probably would’ve let him do whatever he wanted to him. It was just too alarming to actually hear Sasha bark for him to ignore, even with the vampire’s thrall clouding his judgement.

Edward jerked to life again, flinching back from the creature in front of him and swinging his fist in a somewhat clumsy arc. His metal fist still landed a blow to the vampire’s face but it wasn’t as solid as he would have liked. He took a few quick steps back, hand dropping down to where his gun should have been resting against his hip. But he’d had it drawn when he stepped into the alley hadn’t he? His eyes bounced from the vampire to the ground and sure enough, there the pistol was. He hadn’t even felt it slip from his grasp before. Shit!

“You city vampires sure are pushy. At least buy a guy a drink before you go and try chomping at his neck,” Ed said, trying to draw things out a little. Maybe he could hold the vampire off until he could get the gun back in his hands. After all he didn’t seem near as strong, physically at least, as the vampires he and Al had been hunting out in Resembool.

Shit,” Greed said into the thrall before releasing it. That god damned fucking dog. He should have killed it. The fucking mutt. The punch had hit him in the jaw, but it didn’t hurt much. “Well, there goes my fucking dinner. You know, a thrall is buying you a drink. Is there any kind of buzz better than that?”

“I'm pretty sure your thrall or whatever you call it is closer to drugging someone's drink than buying them a drink,” Edward pointed out as he took a step to the side. He was trying to get the vampire to move as well. If they could just get that pre-fight shuffle going he could get his gun again. Things would be fine if he just got that back.

Okay, he had a point. It wasn’t like Greed could actually convince a human to let him drink his blood over a bottle of whisky, though. He had tried that, a lot. It rarely worked. He kept that to himself, though.

Somewhere between moaning and actual sobbing, Ling pointed out something useful. Hey, he dropped his gun. It’s to your right.

Well, that was a problem. Greed didn’t bother being subtle about it, because the thrall’s after effects would be wearing off soon, and the Hunter would be at full strength. He picked the gun up and chucked it over the building. Crisis averted.

And of course the vampire picked up his gun and fucking threw it. All Edward could do was watch. Well... Watch and shout.

“Hey!! You know I'm going to have to replace that,” he snapped while inwardly groaning because All was going one so pissed at him when he got back.

“Look, kid,” Greed said, “you’re one of the Elric brothers, right? You’re new to city vampires, so I’ll let you off easy. I wasn’t lying, I really am a loner. No obligation to kidnap you or anything. But maybe we can come to an agreement. Getting sucked really isn’t that bad, it’s kind of like getting laid.” I kind of want him to punch me again, is that weird?

Greed didn’t answer Ling, but made sure to make a note to kinkshame him later.

Ed leveled an annoyed glare at the vampire that only grew when he referred to him as a kid. He was not a kid! He was 19 and a state certified vampire hunter! Despite all this he stomped his foot rather childishly, his hands jumping into the air in disbelief. These vampires were so damn chatty, and completely different than what he were was used to with their fucking mind games! Back home they just tried to tear you apart! Sometimes they did make off with a piece or two.

Greed watched the Hunter stomp his foot in frustration. It was a pretty childish action, and it reminded him of a certain ex-prince. Hey! I’m mature!

“I am not a kid! And if you're just looking for a snack you probably could have done better than picking a vampire hunter to feed off of,” he pointed out, even shaking his head a little as he motioned sharply toward the nocturnal creature. “I mean do you have a death wish?! Just because you threw my gun doesn't mean I'm not gonna kick your ass!”

He was certainly confident for someone who had just been few minutes away from being someone's dinner.

Greed scoffed and pointed out towards the street. “Did you see anyone else outside? No? That’s because the only humans out here at night are Hunters. It’s not like I can break into someone’s home. Or did you not know that about city vampires either? I don’t have a coven like everyone else, where they keep humans as cattle to drink off of, I have to actually find my own dinner. It’s fucking hard, kid. And yeah you’re a kid to me. Everyone’s a fucking kid to you when you’re two-thousand and counting.”

How much did this guy know? The oldest vampires outside the inner cities were barely hitting 500 years old and their covens were more comparable to packs than actual organizations. He probably didn’t even know vampire politics were a thing. He was quiet for a few seconds, then asked thoughtfully, “Did they really not teach you about this stuff?” That was a good way to get a Hunter killed.

City vampires were turning out to be a lot different than Edward expected. Upon arriving in the city he’d assumed a vampire was a vampire was a vampire. He’d been informed that there were differences in how covens operated and vampires hunted. In the country they tore through like packs of rabid dogs human, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, it didn't matter. So long as the blood was warm they would drain it. There were no practical tests or certifications to hunt. It was barely different than hunting an animal.

This creature of the night was down right civil, though! Not to mention he was beyond two thousand years old.

Ed shifted his weight to his right leg and crossed his arms over his chest. This was the most bizzare confrontation he had ever had with a vampire.

“Being mostly self-taught (somewhere out there one Izumi Curtis was suddenly struck with an overwhelming feeling of annoyance) has worked so far! I didn't see a reason to stop just because I moved,” Ed answered, not feeling the need to point out that he wasn't entirely self taught or that he had mostly ignored the advice he'd been given when he arrived in Central. Not liking all the questions that were very quickly painting picture of how foolish he had been he decided to ask a question of his own. If it's so damn difficult why don't you join a coven, then?”

Greed was beginning to like this Hunter, and he was 80% sure it wasn’t him feeding off of Ling’s shameless attraction. He was headstrong, and reckless too. It reminded Greed of himself, in a way.

At the question, Greed made a disgusted face and looked to the side for a moment. “Lots of reasons,” he huffed, “Even without being banned, I’d rather die than run with those stuck-up pissants with sticks so far up their asses you can see it when they speak. They’re so obsessed with their rules even if they’re not logical. Besides, they’re fucked up. I told you they keep humans as slaves, right? They’re called vampire cattle. I know we need blood to survive, but that’s fucked up. And they say I’m a disgrace because I run with a couple of werewolves and a fairy, and I share a body with a human. Fuckin brats with their god damned High Council and shit.” Greed spit on the ground to show what he thought of the covens, and realizing he had been rambling, he went quiet.

“Well you’re a weird one,” Edward said as the man cut off his rambling. The blonde was now sporting a cheeky grin since the vampire had spilled so much information. Whether any of it was useful was questionable but Ed liked to know things. Knowledge was power after all. “A vampire, who shares his body with a human, and has a sense of morals.”

Curious, he took a step forward, looking the vampire from head to toe, wondering how different he was from a regular vampire. He’d never heard of one sharing a body before. How did the human inside deal with blood drinking ethics? The difference didn’t seem to deter the vampire from wanting to build some sort of coven, even if it was unconventional. But that wasn’t surprising. Humans were prone to building family units as well. Lifting his hand, he curled his fingers under his chin and started to rub his thumb over his bottom lip. It probably wasn’t the wisest decision to let himself get lost in thought but the vampire didn’t seem to be about to attack him so he let himself indulge in his curiosity.

Weird? Greed was about to retort, but he realized with a huff that the Hunter was right. They were both a bit weird. The Hunter stepped closer and studied him, and Greed almost leaned back before remembering that he wasn’t the type to be shy. God damn Ling’s fluster getting in his way.

I can’t help it! Ling cried, Look at him!! He’s touching his lip oh my god I need to kiss it!! You’re not going to drink from him so let me out!! Maybe we can convince him to join our squad, or maybe—

Greed was about to tell him to fuck off, but then the Hunter spoke.

“What does sharing a body mean for you physically,” Edward asked, tilting his head a bit to look the vampire in the eye. He hadn’t really noticed that he’d drifted closer as he pondered the creature before him. “Are you like all vampire with a human soul tagging along or does it go deeper than that?”

Humming in thought, he pulled the glove off his left hand. He wore them mostly to hide his arm. By now he’d mostly gotten over what shyness he had about his automail but it usually made a nice surprise when he got in a fight. That didn’t matter at the moment, though. He’d bared his flesh hand, on which he wore a plain silver band around his middle finger. There was nothing particularly interesting about it save for the fact that it was silver, which seemed to react to most creatures like Werewolves and vampires. Fairies seemed more afflicted by iron but again, that wasn’t the point. He’d wanted to see what the other man’s reaction would be to the metal. With vampires it generally seemed to cause something not unlike an allergic reaction, almost a burning effect, though it seemed less deadly to them than to werewolves.

“Well it’s complicated—“ Greed trailed off when the Hunter took off his glove, but not because of fear. Rather, it was because of the absolutely unholy sound Ling made in his head. Greed please I swear I’ll shut up for a week if you let me front please please—

Greed was almost tempted, but he didn’t want Ling fronting. They really would die, or get captured. He eyed the ring that the Hunter wore, almost certain that it was silver. Many Hunters had some sort of silver on them. Tilting his head, he decided to take a risk. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know, in return for some dinner.”

He honestly doubted the Hunter would take it, but he really was hungry, and he didn’t like that metal so close to him unless he was getting something out of it.

Meeting the vampire’s eyes, Edward stared, holding his gaze as he tried to discern if he could trust him. After a moment he realized there was probably no way to guarantee that he would come out of this in one piece. Biting his lip (and probably having no idea what he was doing to the poor soul in the vampire’s body with that action), he waited for all of a minute before letting out a sigh and nodding his head. If there was one thing that he couldn’t resist it was his curiosity. And really, who would blame him? Was he really supposed to turn down the chance to learn more about this anomaly that he’d never seen before?

Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back…

Al was going to be so mad.

“Fine,” he said, rolling his eyes and letting go of the vampire’s wrist. Still, he offered the ungloved hand with a smirk.”Shake on it?”

Greed took a few seconds to process that the Hunter had actually agreed. In his shock, he said, “Shit, fuck, yeah,” and shook the Hunter’s hand. Of course, the small part of skin that connected with the silver burned like hell, and he hissed and pulled his hand away. The Hunter’s smirk was as loud as a bullhorn. “You little shit,” he muttered, shaking his hand out even though that didn’t take the smarting away. He wasn’t as allergic to silver as other vampires, thanks to Ling, but it still hurt.

Ha! You fell for it!

“And you would still suck his dick if it were silver, sit your twink ass down,” Greed snapped angrily, finally losing his patience.

“Excuse me,” Edward started.

Looking back at the Hunter and feeling a bit out a sorts, Greed said, “Not you. The other guy is being a shit. That wasn’t just a cheap trick to burn me, was it? Do we actually have a deal here?”

That made Edward grin and huff out a little snicker. “Why can’t it have been both,” he asked, grabbing onto the vampire’s hand again. This time he was careful not to burn him again, though. He’d just wanted to see how much damage the silver had done before it all healed.

He had to shuffle a little so that he could tilt the hand toward a little bit of light coming in from the nearest street lamp. It was good enough for him to see what he needed, though. Cradling the vampire’s hand in his own, he stroked his thumb over the other man’s palm to manipulate the skin. The burn was healing faster than it would have on a regular vampire. So far as he could tell he hadn’t been burned quite as bad to begin with. Interesting, so sharing a soul with a human did affect the body.

Greed watched curiously as the Hunter studied his palm. Ling was having another meltdown, but this time it wasn’t really including words, just incoherent sobbing and half-assed attempts to front. He was being particularly dramatic tonight. Greed completely blamed his increased heart rate from the Hunter’s touch on Ling.

“What’s your name, by the way,” Edward asked, looking up at the vampire again as he dropped his hand and wiggled his own back into his glove. “And how long have you been sharing this body with its human host? At least I’m guessing that you’re the one freeloading right? Humans can’t bond their souls to a vampire body… can they?” It wasn’t likely that he was going to get that many of his questions answered before he held up his end of the deal but he couldn't stop them from pouring out one after another. “Now I’m guessing that having a human soul with you does affect you on a more physical level. Can you digest regular food? Can you sustain yourself on it? Well I guess if you could, you wouldn’t be drinking blood. Unless you just really like it? Do you have to feed as often as a regular vampire?”

God he wished he’d had something to write on. It was going to be a pain trying to remember all of this until he got back to his room to write it all down.

Greed also blamed Ling for his foggy-headedness when he was bombarded with questions. He held his hands up. “Hold on, kid, one question at a time. Are you sure you want to do this here? I can imagine it would be unwise for you to go back to my place, but then again, you are out here by yourself, and with all those questions we’d be out here a while. I’m not the only vampire out looking for you, either, and I don’t feel like fighting off a coven tonight.”

Granted, he wouldn’t be fighting an entire coven, just whatever vampires they sent out to scout for the Elric brothers, but the point remained.

Edward looked around the alley as if he’d forgotten where they were and then flushed a little at having let his curiosity get the better of him like that. Though the vampire’s comment about him not being the only one looking for him did nothing but pique his interest all over again. Was his an Al’s arrival really worth such commotion? He wanted to ask but bit the tip of his tongue as if it would physically stop the questions from coming.

“Well what’s worse? Going to your place or going to my current place, where in there is another hunter that will not be near as understanding about our agreement,” he asked, arching a brow. Not to mention there was Sasha to deal with. If they went back to the room that he and Al had been put up in she would most definitely do everything in her power to wake Al up. “And you know fighting off a coven of vampires wouldn’t have been nearly as big a problem if you hadn’t thrown my fucking gun!”

“I’ll find your damn gun,” Greed muttered, then added, “I’ll drop it here after I take you home, then you can get it at daylight.” He wanted to trust this man, as ridiculous and reckless as that was, but he didn’t trust anyone with a gun that could kill him.

The poor dog was pacing back and forth at the mouth of the alley, casting Ed judgemental looks. They trained the dogs they used for hunting were trained to detect, and then fall back. If they tried to attack the vampires they usually ended up dead and the dogs were too valuable to just let them get torn apart. Sasha was sticking to her training, well, though she obviously didn’t like Ed being so close to their usual enemy. Taking pity on his companion, he stepped toward the mouth of the alley, lifted his arms and then patted at his chest. Sasha came running without any further urging, and leapt up to his chest. If she’d been much bigger she would’ve knocked him over but as it was she was just the right size for Edward to catch her and settle her in his arms.

“So, any suggestions, Grandpa,” he asked, looking at the vampire with his brow arched. Sasha was looking at him too, ears perked and entire body quivering. “By the way, you never told me your name!”

Greed wrinkled his nose when he Hunter called his dog over. That damned mutt cost him his dinner.

I think she’s cute, Ling said.

“Almost as cute as you are,” Greed shot back sarcastically. Exactly!

He bristled when the Hunter called him Grandpa. Fuck that guy, he was hip! “My name’s Greed. All I know is your last name. As for my place or yours, let’s hit my place. There might be a couple other people there, but they’re diurnal so they’re probably asleep. Also I can get you some food to keep up your energy after I’m done.”

So the fact that Edward knew that the vampire was probably talking to the human soul inside him didn’t at all detract from how crazy he looked and sounded when he was talking to himself. Edward was thankful that the guy was apparently going to go out and find his gun. So he watched the vampire, unable to keep the incredulous and confused look off his face. He did manage not to laugh, though! So he counted it as a win. It did raise a single question, though. How did one define a soul as cute? And what was it almost as cute as?

“You really are a big softy compared to other vampires, aren’t ya,” Edward said, leaning his head back when Sasha tucked her snout against his neck and tried to lick at his face. He really had been anticipating that he’d be wandering home alone and light headed from blood loss that night.

Greed couldn’t believe his ears. “Soft?? I’m the toughest vamp in these streets! I just also have morals sometimes.” He made a dismissive gesture and turned to walk out of the other side of the alley and lead the Hunter duo to his home.

“So the toughest vampire in Central is essentially having me over for dinner,” Edward said, voice flat. That was hard to wrap his head around and he wasn't sure he believed it.

The least Edward could do is give him the courtesy of telling him his name, though. It wasn’t like it was going to remain a secret for long anyway. Not if there were people keeping eyes on him and Al.

“My name’s Edward,” he offered civilly. It didn’t last long. “What kind of name is Greed? Did you give yourself that name or what? Because I honestly can’t think of a mother who hates their child enough to saddle them with a name like that.”

So this was Edward. Edward Elric, the youngest State Hunter in history. Or second youngest. Greed laughed at Edward’s comment. “I don’t remember my parents,” he said, “but no, this name was given to me by the vampire who turned and mentored me. I’ve thought about changing it to Resilience, but something holds me back. Not sure if I deserve it, y’know.”

During the short walk to his apartment, Greed kept his senses open and alert for any rivals, but blessedly they arrived safely at the basement door on the side of a building. He unlocked it and went in first to turn on the dim stairway light so Edward could see. “Before you start thinking you’re special for knowing my top secret location, all the top members of the human government know where I live. We have an unspoken agreement. As long as I don’t kill or enslave any of their people, they leave me alone. They have the covens to worry about, and all.”

When they reached the hallway at the bottom of the stairs, Greed unlocked another door and stood aside to let Edward in. “Welcome to my humble abode,” he said with exaggerated suavity.

The apartment was large, and the doorway opened up to a spacey living room, dining room, and kitchen all connected. There was a hallway straight ahead with a couple more doors, behind one of which sounded some violent snoring.

Along that line of thought, there were quite a few other adjectives that he could think of for the Vampire besides Greedy or Resilient. Interesting. Annoying. Dangerous. He wasn't above admitting that. If not for Sasha he would have been snacked on and not getting a damn thing for his trouble!

Despite the dangerous nature of their agreement and their rocky introduction, the whole encounter had been strange but overall not so bad. And, at least in Ed’s mind the reward outweighed the risk. How often did one run into a vampire cohabitating in a body with a human soul? Anyway, he was semi-confident that he could still get a handle on the situation if things went awry.

The walk to Greed's top secret lair was mostly quiet and had given Sasha time to relax a little. She had stopped trembling and had started leaning toward Greed and sniffing at him as they walked. Edward wondered if he smelled different than the other vampires she'd scented before. He hadn't realized that he’d let himself relax around Greed as they walked until they got to the basement door. A drop of anxiety mingled with the amusement of how ridiculous the man sounded when he actually declared the location to be “top secret”. He couldn't help but laugh at that and it gave him the push to step into the vampire's home.

He didn't know what he had expected but everything seemed weirdly normal. Crouching, Edward put Sasha down, letting the dog sniff around as he stepped further into Greed’s living room.

“Nice place,” he said turning to regard his host. “So where do you want to do this?”

“You can go sit on the couch,” Greed said, “I’ll try to find you something to eat. Not sure how much we have.” He dug around in the refrigerator and found some things to make a sandwich. His fairy roommate, Elodie, usually stocked the kitchen with fruits and vegetables. He had been slacking lately, though. While he was making the sandwich, he heard a meow as the only warning before a cat jumped on the counter and walked up to him.

“Dipshit!” Greed cried, “Get down.” He shooed the cat off the counter, but he refused with the dog looking up at him from the ground. “It’s just a fucking dog, not like you don’t live with two others already, get off the counter.” He pushed the cat off the counter, and Dipshit crouched down while Sasha sniffed him.

I’m going to have a heart attack.

“You better not while I’m eating,” Greed answered.

Can I please front, Ling asked, though his tone was doubtful. It was a last resort plea.

“No, you can’t front so stop asking, you eat like a fucking monster, I don’t want blood on my couch. Also I doubt he wants a horny twink latched to his neck.”

Ling whined, and Greed finished making the sandwich. It was a pretty nice sandwich, he was proud of himself. Covering it with a towel, he put it in the corner of the counter and got a glass of juice to accompany it. Edward would need the sugar boost.

Edward dropped onto the couch he was directed to, taking a moment to shed his coat and drape it over the arm of the couch before sitting down at one end. It left him in just a long sleeved black shirt which made him feel just a bit exposed. It was too warm for his coat to be worn comfortably inside. He watched curiously as Greed puttered around the kitchen, taking in the novelty of having a vampire make him a sandwich.

His interest was quickly captured by the cat when it made an appearance. It was just too funny to watch as the poor thing was put on the ground in front of Sasha. She froze, every inch of her going stiff as she looked down at the feline. After a moment’s pause she lunged in to sniff at the cat’s side, only to get a paw to the snout for her trouble. The dog let out a noisey huff but didn’t act as though she’d been hurt. Rather, she reached out to paw at the cat before dropping onto her side and then rolling onto her back. It was hard to believe she was such a highly trained dog when she was writhing around on her back, chuffing and snorting at a cat in an effort to get it to play with her.

It certainly had Ed laughing, at least until Greed started talking to him.

“Okay!” Greed said, turning to face the Hunter, “Edward. Usually when feeding from willing participants, they prefer I use a thrall to make it less unpleasant. I can make it less intense so you still have mental clarity.”

Edward didn’t like the idea of being under that thrall again. It felt amazing, but the idea of having his mind played with like that wasn’t ideal. He had been well and truly fucked earlier, before Sasha barked. The hunter wasn’t eager to feel like that again and unlike studying this strange hybrid of man and beast, he didn’t think it would be the only time he got caught in a vampire’s thrall now that he’d moved to the city.

“Just how terrible is it without the thrall,” he hedged, nervously biting into the corner of his lip. A very human part of him still wanted to avoid pain. He just didn’t want to be entirely helpless with a vampire at his throat. “And would I still be able to move along with that mental clarity? No offense or anything but I’m still not 100% percent sure I can trust you.”

Look at that fucking shirt you can see his muscles I’m going to die.

Greed ignored Ling and reached under the counter to get out some cotton balls and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. He wasn’t usually able to clean a human’s neck before feeding (one of the lesser consequences to hunting rather than finding the rare willing participant). He always preferred it though, not because he would get sick, but because it felt better without sweat or dirt getting in his mouth. “Fangs are pretty sharp, but they’re not thin. I’m sure you’ve been bitten by a wild vampire before. I won’t be using that much force but it really does hurt, especially with the venom. The primary venom prevents blood clotting, and it’s almost like pouring alcohol or salt on a wound. It hurts a lot. The secondary venom is a super-concentrated healing medicine to seal the wound.” He approached Edward and knelt down on the floor before him, brushing his hair that had escaped the braid back. He poured some of the alcohol on a cotton ball and rubbed it on Ed’s neck where he intended to bite. “But about the thrall, what I used on you before was a hunting thrall. It basically makes you useless. If you wanted me to enthrall you now, I’d use a really weak version of that. You can still move normally, but your body will be relaxed, kind of like if you just got an hour long massage. Some compare it to post-orgasm bliss. I can trick your brain into processing pain as pleasure, too. You’d have less control over yourself if you were drunk, to be honest.” He finished preparing Edward’s neck and sat back to look up at him expectantly.

This view is going to be burned into my memory, Ling moaned.

This whole thing felt like a freakishly intimate doctor’s visit.

Edward found he lost his voice when Greed had settled down on the floor in front of him he hadn’t been able to help pushing himself into the back of the couch. He didn’t like how charmed he felt by the vampire when he tucked his hair back into his braid. So he tried to just focus on what he was being told. Some of it was stuff he already knew. And then Greed started cleaning his neck and his breath hitched just a little. An irritating tingle shot up the back of his neck and settled in around his cheeks and ears. He blamed the cool sensation left behind by the quickly evaporating alcohol on his neck. Yeah… That was it.

Most definitely not the gentle pressure behind the almost clinical swabbing of his neck. Or the thought of having an admittedly attractive vampire’s mouth on his neck while possibly in a state comparable to ‘Orgasmic bliss’. For the first time Edward started to actually question what he’d gotten himself into. He swallowed harshly, letting the silence stretch between them, his brow furrowed as he looked down at the vampire.

“Alright. Thrall away, I guess,” he said stiffly, shifting in his seat just a bit. He’d gotten in too deep for his pride to let him back out now.

Greed was trying to be professional about the whole thing, but Ling was making it incredibly difficult. Every time Edward made eye contact or shifted in his seat or the moment Greed touched his skin, his heart did some fucked-up shit. It was all Ling’s fault, clearly, seeing as he was the reason Greed had a heartbeat at all. And Ling was making it even worse with his commentary.

He’s blushing and I’m going to pass out, Ling said.

Greed had a lot of things to say about Ling passing out, but he kept it to himself. It was normal for humans to flush when being fed on, probably because of the whole prey thing. It made Greed eager to start, too.

When Edward gave his consent, Greed administered the thrall. He wasn’t able to get inside his mind and speak to him like before, but the Hunter could utilize all of his senses this time, so he spoke out loud. “You can talk to me, by the way. If you want more, less, or want me to stop, let me know.”

When the thrall was secure, Greed moved up to sit on the couch next to Edward. “I’m gonna move you into my lap, it’s easiest that way.” With one hand on his hip and one supporting his back, Greed gently guided Edward onto his lap and got comfortable.

With all the aggression he could muster (it was hard to speak to Ling through his thoughts, since it got confusing sometimes), he thought, Ling, if you make me get a boner from this I’m going to shave your fucking head.

He could feel his own stomach drop as Ling gasped in horror. You wouldn’t!

I would.

What if it came from you??? Would you still blame me???

Yes.

Mentally blocking out Ling’s despair as best as he could, Greed put his hand behind Edward’s neck and cradled it. He was already salivating. Finally, he looked at Edward again. “Ready?”

Edward relaxed once the thrall hit him. Though whether it was the nature of the thrall itself or because it was such a light touch when compared to what he’d experienced before was unclear. A somewhat goofy smile appeared on his face and he hummed, leaning back into the couch. When he wasn’t struggling to think or worried about possibly dying the sensation was actually rather nice. He felt warm and a little tingly all over but that was it.

“Need to figure out how to bottle this stuff,” he mumbled, rolling his head against the back of the couch.

When Greed joined him up on the couch he blinked slowly up at him and then hummed his consent to be moved. Edward was hit with a small amount of wonder as he was essentially moved like a rag doll. He wasn’t especially tall, as more than a few people liked to point out, but between his automail and the muscle that made up the rest of his body, he wasn't exactly a lightweight. Without thinking he lifted his arm and draped it over Greed’s shoulders, shifting a little to get comfortable in his lap. Even if he didn’t feel so stuck, it was more like his limbs didn’t feel entirely connected.

If he were a human and I wasn’t dinner this would be fun for an entirely different reason.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Edward said, smiling. It was pretty easy not to think of the danger of the situation he was in when everything felt so good. Humming quietly, he let his head loll back in Greed’s hand, exposing his throat.

He’s so fucking cute, Greed I want to eat him.

Greed filed that away for later Ling Kinkshaming. Meanwhile, he almost wiggled with excitement. It had been a month since his last meal, and it had been a long time since his last meal from a willing participant. It was horrible, having to eat from someone who would otherwise be trying to kill him. It felt wrong, even though he knew he had to eat. Werewolf blood was pretty much poison, and fairy blood was like drinking a really, really strong alcohol — and it was only a fraction as efficient as human blood.

He rubbed the back of Ed’s neck gently and leaned in, letting his lips touch the warm skin there. He was so warm and inviting and Greed found himself rubbing his lips back and forth with a happy sound. God bless Edward Elric, he heard from his mind, and he wasn’t sure if it had come from him or Ling.

After a moment of mental preparation, he let his fangs unsheathe and pierce the Hunter’s skin. The blood began to flow steadily, and Greed latched his mouth around the punctures to capture every last drop. It was unbelievably warm and tangy, and he involuntarily moaned. He’d been drinking blood for two millennia, and it never got old. Breathing heavily through his nose, he let his hand bury in Edward’s hair while the other slipped under his shirt to feel the warm skin of his side. He was so warm and Greed never wanted to let go. He massaged Ed gently while he drank, feeling his usually constant desires become satiated.

The thrall was like being drunk, only without all the confusion and mental impairment, Edward decided. Because he very much didn’t mind the lips on his neck as much as he should have. As a matter of fact his hand tightened on Greed’s shoulder, where it had landed when he slid his arm around the man’s neck, and he actually giggled. He just couldn’t help it! The soft feel of lips brushing over the same spot on his neck over and over just tickled!

Oh but then Greed finally bit down and that was something else entirely.

Thanks to the thrall it didn’t hurt so much. Mostly it was pressure and slight burning. Not so much that it was uncomfortable, or painful. More like how it felt to come in from the cold and sitting in front of a fire. It almost burned to the point of discomfort at first, but boy did he want more. He felt himself curl a little closer to Greed, a low moan spilling out of him as he clung to the vampire. It almost felt like he was floating and the sensation only increased as the other man stayed attached to his neck. He barely even noticed the hand sliding up under his shirt, far too focused on the feeling of his neck being sucked on. Still, his free hand landed on the arm attached to that wandering hand and he let out a quiet little noise, not quite a whimper.

After what seemed like not enough time but was probably a couple minutes, Greed finally had his fill and slowly released his secondary venom onto the puncture wounds, making sure to lick up the remaining blood until there was nothing left. He pulled away and touched the punctures tenderly to see their healing. They had healed well, but there was still a faint scar. He reached for a cotton ball and squirted some more venom on it and held it there for a few seconds, but it was slow.

Sighing, Greed released the thrall and leaned back to watch Edward. “Hey,” he murmured, and for some reason he found his hand caressing Edward’s cheek while he assessed him. “You alright?”

When the vampire disengaged from his neck he hummed quietly, feeling more than a bit lightheaded. Sasha had come up to the side of the couch and leaned in to press her cold nose to a patch of exposed skin near the waist of his pants. He whined at that but otherwise let himself lay limply in his host’s grip. The lightheadedness remained even as the thrall was lifted. Which he supposed made sense, seeing as he’d just lost some blood. His neck didn’t feel sore exactly, maybe a little tender. And Oh, Greed was asking him something.

Was he okay? He thought so. Maybe a little crazy, considering what he’d just done, but okay nonetheless.

“M’fine. I guess I can see how some people get into that,” he said, mumbling a little bit. He tried to sit up next, then let out a groan and slumped back against Greed again. “Hmm Oh yeah. I need to lay down,” he said, lifting a hand to cover his eyes.

Greed chuckled a little. “I’m glad it wasn’t too unpleasant,” he said, then he soaked another pair of cotton balls with his venom and placed them against the scars on Edward’s neck. “Here, hold these like this. It should make those scars go away after a while. They’re not too noticeable right now, but you shouldn’t risk it.”

He helped move Edward so he was sitting on the couch, and it was then that he noticed his leg was rather hard, almost like it was made of metal. Did he have automail? How had Greed not notice that before? He probably wouldn’t get a coherent answer just yet, so he didn’t ask about it. “Don’t lay down, because you could pass out if you sit back up too quickly. I’ll go get your food.”

When he stood up, he had a bounce in his step. He was rejuvenated! “You’re uncharacteristically quiet, Ling,” he said softly.

I’m fine.

Greed snorted and grabbed the sandwich plate and glass of juice and brought it back to Edward. “Hope you don’t mind ham and cheese. And I wanna see you drink that entire glass. You need sugar.” He plopped down on the other side of the couch, bringing his feet up underneath him while he got comfortable. He rested his elbow on the back of the couch and rested his head on his hand, and gazed at Edward with a content expression.

Edward didn't outright disobey the command not to lay down but he did slouch down suspiciously low in his seat. His shirt dragged against the couch cushions, exposing the skin just under his belly button. Sasha chuffed quietly at him from her spot by his heel and tilted her head up to rest her chin against his knee. The young man smiled a little and reached down to cradle her snout in his hand.

“I'm alright,” he told her, rubbing his thumb along the top of her sount and in between her eyes.

His eyes drifted shut for a moment and he just listened to all the noises in the apartment. There were outrageous sounding snores, Greed talking and his footsteps as he walked around. He supposed that Ling was the human he cohabitated with. Did he have to speak out loud to talk to him? Did the human have any control over his own body any more?

When Greed came back with food and orders to eat he huffed and straighten up some. “What are you, my mother?”

Despite his sarcasm, Ed did sit up and grab the sandwich, leaving the venom soaked cotton ball in its place. He even managed to swallow back two bites before he just couldn't hold in his questions anymore. Even tired as he was after that little blood donation his thirst for knowledge was near insatiable.

“Ling is the human whose body you hijacked, right? Does he get to actually use his body now or is it all you? Does he need real food as much as you need blood or does the blood serve to feed both of you,” he asked, unable to stop one question from following the other like a bunch of lemmings jumping off a cliff.

He had also yet to touch his orange juice.

Humans were so strange. Greed studied Edward up and down, from the small patch of exposed tan skin of his tummy to the way his jaw moved when he ate. Humans were so warm and fluid and alive. Even werewolves were different, they were more, contained, as if their bodies were too small for them. Fairies were dainty. Humans though, were perfect. Everything about them was natural.

Greed was so lost in his gazing that he startled when Edward started asking questions. He looked away for a moment while he thought. “Ling was the owner of this body before, yes. Now it’s ours. He can front, and we switch places essentially, but most of the time I’m the one in charge. Our body is sort of a half vampire, half human thing. It needs human food, but only once a day. It’s not really that Ling needs food and I need blood, but that both of us need both to sustain this body that we share.”

While he talked, Dipshit jumped up on the couch and settled in his lap, purring and kneading his paws and blinking slowly up at Greed with loving eyes. Greed watched the cat idly for a moment before turning his gaze back to the Hunter.

Did he really have nothing to write on?

Edward listened attentively, starting to move around some so he could pat down his pockets. He even pulled his coat into his lap and went though that. All he found was the stub to a train ticket. Which might have at least been a little useful if he had a pen.

“How long have you been sharing a body,” he asked, looking around the room. Piano. Paintings. Various cat toys. “And do you have something I can write this stuff down with?”

There was so much that he wanted to know but he was fairly certain he would forget some of it if he didn't take notes and that just wasn't acceptable. Not after everything he had done to get his answers! Granted that being drunk from hadn't really been terrible. Actually it had been uncomfortably nice. Looking at Greed with us cat he was once again struck by how different the vampires in the city were.

For example he had never found himself attracted to any vampire he’d met in the country. NOT THAT HE WAS ATTRACTED TO THIS VAMPIRE! No way was that s thing. Not at all. It was just that the vampires in the country we're little more than animals. Greed on the other hand, had a cat! He made him food and had started mother henning him as soon as he’d finished feeding! Speaking of… there was food he was supposed to be eating. But it was easier to drink and talk than eat and talk so he grabbed the orange juice instead and took a sip.

Toughest vampire in Central City my ass. I bet he’s worse than Al when it comes to bringing home stray animals.

Whether it was from the satisfaction from feeding or something else, Greed found himself smiling a little as he watched Edward. This human was so interesting.

When Edward asked about taking notes, Greed looked down at the cat in his lap, not wanting to move. He didn’t want to send Edward up to get it and have him pass out, though, so he picked Dipshit up and set him down on the couch before going to get his notebook and a pencil from the piano. Turning to a clean page, he returned and handed the notebook to Edward and then sat back down. “I’ve only had this body for a short time, about 23 years. I’m really only just now starting to get used to it. Before this my body was thirty-something years old, but Ling was only nineteen. He’s got a lot of muscle tone too, good proportions. He says it’s the emperor bloodline or something.” Greed took off his black coat to reveal a tight black sleeveless undershirt, and he studied his own left arm. “It’s also nice to have a complete arm again. Speaking of, do you have automail?” He turned back to Edward and eyed his leg curiously.

As soon as he had the notepad and pencil in hand he started to scribble down everything he learned, using his neck own form of shorthand. He looked up sharply when Greed said Ling was only 19. How was that even possible? He almost didn't even hear the rest of what the vampire was saying. 19?! He seemed so much taller than him and while Edward was no slouch in the muscle department he wasn't huge… of course neither was Ling… Greed… Greedling. At least not in comparison to some people he’d met. He may not have even been greatly more muscled than Ed but the blond suddenly felt just a bit, well, small.

Silence stretched between them for a moment as he neglected to answer Greed's question.

“Stand up!” Edward’s voice was sudden and sharp in the quiet that had befallen the apartment. “Right now! Back to back! There is no way that body was only 19 when you took it over and is that much taller than me!”

He shot up out of his seat as he made his demands. Then he went quite and swayed for a moment. Black spots were dancing in his vision. He hadn't quite passed out but it wasn't quite clear which direction he was going to fall when he did.

Greed was so shocked at Edward’s demand that he sat up immediately, but he didn’t stand up until Edward did. “Hey, be careful—“ When the Hunter started to sway, Greed rushed forward and took him into his arms. “Shit, man,” he said as he sat down with Edward next to him and held his face in his hands to get a look in his eyes. He was awake, but sweat was forming on his brow and he was getting pale. Greed leaned forward to press his forehead against Edward’s to check his temperature, since his hands were already warming up from Edward’s body heat. He didn’t have a fever, thankfully, but there seemed to be a heat rush coming on. Having taken care of many humans after feeding on them, Greed was prepared. “How do you feel? You might need to take off that shirt. Hold on, I’ll be right back.” He jumped up and wet a cloth with cold water and returned, sitting next to Edward again and pressing it to his forehead. Feeling a bit too doting and needing to make up for it, he muttered, “dumbass, you can’t just stand up like that. Not until you drink all your goddamn juice.”

Edward groaned quietly and squeezed his eyes shut when Greed maneuvered him onto the couch. When he opened them again the vampire was staring at him, concern writ all over his face. That had been a mistake. Being coddled like a child and having the other man pressing their foreheads pressed together to check his temperature was just too high a price to pay for standing up like that. Though Greed had been right about that whole muscle tone thing. And if it weren’t so awkward it would’ve been kinda nice having his face that close to his face. It was a nice face. Who could really blame him?

“You’re just trying to get me undressed,” he complained when the vampire mentioned that he might need to take off his shirt. “By the way, what’s your average body temperature?”

Even in the face of nearly fainting, he was demanding answers to his questions. It was a pretty good distraction from the nasty little feelings of affection that were starting to bud in his mind. Certainly not his heart. All that thing did was move blood, it didn’t control how you felt about anyone. Not that he really felt any sort of way about Greed. He just met him! Greed was just kinda nice, despite the fact that he didn’t seem to want to be. And he wasn’t hard to look at either. Sighing, Edward slumped into the couch and just appreciated the moment he had to pull himself back together while the vampire went and did whatever he was doing.

The cold cloth on his forehead made him jolt in surprise, but it also felt blessedly cool. He still wasn’t taking his shirt off, though. He also wasn’t going to take being berated like a kid sitting down! Or he’d take it sitting down but not without complaint.

“Shut up! It’s your fault anyway, for being so tall. Or Ling’s fault. Whichever one of you is responsible,” declared, the logic behind his statement tenuous at best.

Greed sighed and focused on feeling Edward’s face and neck to measure his temperature. He took Edward’s hand in his own and put it over the cloth so he could hold it there on his own. “You’re annoyingly similar to Ling, you know that? Except he’s not as angry, it’s more of a happy thing. And most humans that pass out from blood loss tend to have a heat rush and clothes feel restricting. I don’t want you to hyperventilate and vomit all over my couch. While I don’t deny it would be a nice view, if I was trying to get you undressed I’d use a very different tactic.” He smirked and leaned in to study the scar on Edward’s neck. It was looking better, but if someone were looking for a vampire bite mark they’d be able to tell.

Greed pulled away. “Regarding your question, most vampires have a body temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but mine is more around 75. It also depends on the environment. My hands are a bit warm now because they were touching you.”

A blush that was hardly noticeable due to his cheeks already being a little flushed from the heat rush, or whatever Greed was going on about, stole across his face when he said that it would be a nice view if he managed to get him shirtless. His lips pressed into a thin line as he tried to think of something snippy in return. It did nothing to improve his attitude when his mind kept turning up blank.

“Y-yeah? Well you’re just annoying… and snakelike,” he muttered after Greed explained his body temperature. He reached over to the other side of the couch where he’d dropped the pad and paper he’d been given and started to scribble down notes again.

The blond very studiously kept his eyes on his paper the whole time. He was not going to let himself get distracted by the vampire again. This was for science! And he only had a limited time before he’d have to head back to Al at some point. Chewing on the corner of his lip he tried to think of what to asked next.

“Is your healing at all affected? Like is it any slower than the average vampire? And how did you end up sharing this body? I… Don’t vampires just usually have the body they’re ya know, turned with,” he asked, reaching out to grab his juice so he wouldn’t have to look at Greed just yet.

Snakelike? What did that mean? Greed wrinkled his nose until Edward started asking questions again. He settled down in the couch like before and thought, touching his lip idly. “Hmm… I think my healing is about the same as before? It’s a different kind, because I have a working heart, but essentially it works out being the same in terms of deep wounds. As for poisons and other things that kill humans, I’m still bothered by them, not sure how seriously though. I’ve only had this body a couple decades, so I’m not completely aware of how it works. Just last year I found out I can get sick with human illnesses, so that was cool and not fun.”

While he spoke, Greed took his hair out of its ponytail and started to braid it behind his back. He had learned how to do that a long time ago and used to wear it like that every day, but he hadn’t done it much in this body, and Edward’s braid made him want to do it again. “I’ve had three bodies in my lifetime. The vast majority of vampires do only have one body, but there’s a kind of… magic, that’s used by a few of us really old ones. Daddy — the vampire that turned me — he’s a master at it. He actually made me and my siblings differently than the usual way to turn a vampire, he absorbed the souls of several animals and fused them with mine, turned my body, and then put that soul back into it. That was like, before Jesus was born. You know, ancient times. So my soul wasn’t exactly, permanently attached to my body. Daddy forced me to get a new one about a thousand years ago by boiling me alive and passing my soul on to another body as punishment.” Greed smiled. “Then 23 years ago, I met a certain dashing prince of Xing who was also a vampire Hunter who wanted to kill me and use my dead body as a trophy and path to the throne as emperor. And he nearly did. I was dying, and I realized I could pull off the same thing Daddy did to me, but Ling’s was the only body I had access to at the time, so I just squeezed myself in. There are drawbacks, but I think it’s a step up from what I used to have.”

Edward glanced up at the movement from Greed taking down his hair that was distracting. Mostly because it looked really soft... and long… and like it would be way easier for him to just braid it for Greed rather than watching him do it himself and-- Nope. He ducked his head again and went back to taking notes. He wasn’t going to think about that. Maybe it was just a side effect of being under a thrall and drunk from. Once he was away from the guy for a while the little blossom of infatuation would die and things would be normal.

And then the asshole went and called his sire ‘Daddy’ and who named themselves that? What? Which, caused Ed to choke on the orange juice he’d been sipping at the time.

He slapped his hand over his mouth and nose, coughing a couple times before looking at Greed with wide eyes. Maybe he’d just misheard? But no. There it was again. Daddy. What the hell? Distracting as it was, Ed managed to take his notes but the only thing that came out of his mouth when Greed finished speaking was:

“Your sire made you call him daddy? What sort of kinky shit were you guys getting up to? Did God send Jesus to earth just because your sire specifically needed him or what?”

There was an instant sense of regret in that statement because that brought up another short slew of questions that had briefly touched Edward’s mind in the past. For instance. Without a heartbeat, and thus no blood flow, do vampires get boners? His eyes dropped from Greed’s face down to his lap for all of a second before he snapped his head back down to look at the notebook he’d been writing in. Don’t think about it!

Greed grinned and laughed a little while Edward seemed to go through an internal argument about his question. “I call him Daddy because it annoys him. He likes being called Father or some other formal shit. Sometimes I say Daddy Sir to his face. No, I might have had a daddy kink if it weren’t for him but he ruined it. It’s okay though, between Ling and me there’s plenty of kink to go around.” He pulled his braid around to the front to study it. It was decent enough. His original hair used to be thick and down past his ass, so it was a lot easier to braid. He could feel Ling’s embarrassment from inside his mind, but Ling didn’t comment, and neither did Greed. He must be really flustered to be staying this quiet.

“Why are you saying that like you’re trying to reassure me that you’re a sufficiently kinky person living inside another sufficiently kinky person,” Edward asked, his voice most certainly not cracking at any point during that frantically spoken sentence. Cheeks flushed with… Irritation, definitely irritation, he wrote down a few more things.

“Uh.. I’m guessing you’ve never had to deal with human illness before. Does Ling know how different the healing time is between a normal human getting sick and a uh.. You?” Something else dawned on him moments later. “Did you say you have siblings?! Does that mean there’s more vampires out there like you?!”

Greed frowned when Edward brought up the illness. “I think it was about the same time period for this particular virus. I was bedridden for about a week, and I was weaker than normal for a few weeks after. I think our body was just...confused. Then again, the virus had killed many humans, so I don’t know. And yeah, I have a couple siblings. They don’t share bodies with humans, but they were made the same way as me. They think I’m a disgrace because I allowed Ling to stick around. Not like the little fucker gave me any choice. I’m sure if I killed him he would rise from the grave he’s so stubborn.”

Edward snorted. “Sounds like I’d like him. Or try and kick his ass. Not sure which,” he said thoughtfully.

Greed grinned ear to ear at the same time as he heard a very soft and wavering please kick my ass from the back of his mind. He started to laugh, and kept laughing, unable to stop. Ling was such a mess it was absolutely pathetic. He wanted to tell Edward that Ling was a masochist with a hunter kink and a raging crush, but he kept it to himself.

Once he caught his breath and wiped a tear from his eye, he went back to listening to Edward’s questions.

Edward’s blush deepened as the vampire started to laugh. What was so damn funny? The hunter pressed his lips into a thin line and glared at the vampire until his chuckling stopped.

If Greed and his siblings were made pre-Christ and were made in a way that the traditional vampires he hunted were not, were they the original vampires that started all this mess they had to deal with now? He wondered if Greed knew the answer but didn’t ask, instead making a note to do so later. Either before he left or maybe if he saw the vampire again. He’d like that. Purely so he could study him more, of course.

“Can you see your reflection?” Ed asked, almost suddenly. His questions did seem to swing wildly from one thing to the next at times. But he had been wondering about if there were things that affected him differently than they did regular vampires. “Are your siblings just like… regular vampires? Or is there anything unique about them?”

“I can indeed see my reflection,” Greed said, “I always have been able to. Most of the vampires I know can also see their reflections, but I’ve also met some that don’t have any, and don’t cast a shadow either. The story goes that you can only see your reflection if you have a soul, but I’m not sure how true that is. My siblings are pretty much regular vampires, like I was before I merged with Ling. The only unique thing I would say is that we can use magic, but even after two thousand years I still don’t completely understand how it works.”

“I’m guessing that the whole thing about you not being able to come in someone’s house without an invitation is true considering what you said earlier,” Edward said more to himself than to Greed. “Do all the myths have such varied results?”

The question was one he wanted answers but Ed was also starting to lose himself in thought. A lot of the techniques they used for hunting were based on myths like how holy water and crucifixes would ward off vampires. Garlic, not inviting them in, stakes to the heart seemed to be the most consistent way to kill a vampire though. In this day and age there were people experimenting with making bullets out of the blessed wood used to make steaks, or packing shotgun shells packed splinters or saw dust. Humming to himself, Edward started to run his thumb over his bottom lip again, studying what he’d written down.

Greed hummed. “Myths tend to be based in truth, but could always be tweaked. And exceptions can pop up where they weren’t there before. Like how I won’t be killed by silver, but it still burns, and how I can go out during the day but I’ll get a sunburn quickly if I’m under direct sunlight for more than ten minutes or so.”

Greed leaned on his hand again and gazed curiously at Edward. “You never answered my question before though. Do you have automail?”

Greed’s question actually caught him off guard. He’d forgotten about having been asked that earlier. Studying the vampire he debated the pros and cons of just telling him. Eventually he shrugged. It wasn’t like it would stay a secret for long and he really only kept it a secret so he could surprise opponents with it. Though that only worked once.

“Yeah,” he said, pushing up the sleeve of his right arm and then putting his booted foot up on the coffee table to hike up his pants and show his leg. “The vampires I’m used to hunting aren’t so… ah... Refined when it comes to eating or fighting. They make a real mess of things.”

When Ed showed Greed his leg, Greed leaned in with an interested noise. “I’ve seen some Hunters with this, but I’ve never gotten a good look at it,” he said.

“Thankfully I have a friend in the business,” Edward said, peeling off his glove and then stretching out the metal arm and flexing his fingers. “I lost my arm and leg on one of my first real hunts. I was young and stupid,” he sighed.

There used to be quite a bit of disconnect between himself and his not so fleshy appendages. He’d look at them and feel like they weren’t his at all. Edward had grown past it, though, either letting go or shoving down any of his insecurities and learning how to use his new body for the best.

Greed grabbed his own left forearm with a grimace. “I can empathize. I had my arm torn off by a southern pack a little over a century ago. They didn’t have automail back then, or at least not any that vampires could get.” He looked back at Edward. “Can you actually feel things with it?” He wanted to feel of it, but he didn’t want to piss him off.

“No. It’s kind of useful. Don’t really need oven mitts or anything like that,” he laughed, reaching out to poke at Greed’s arm. “I can feel your muscle give but I can’t feel the texture of your shirt. You know? And it gives my right hook an impressive amount of weight behind it!” The young man had been grinning but it faded slightly as he reached up to rub his arm. “They hurt like a bitch to connect and disconnect, though.I have to be careful about being in extreme temperatures too. Too hot and the metal will burn me, especially where it’s connect to my shoulder. Too cold and I can get frostbite.”

When Edward touched him, Greed couldn’t resist anymore and he took Edward’s automail hand into his own. Gently pulling up his sleeve a little to show his forearm, he ran his fingers over the metal, humming and nodding as he listened to Edward explain. A deep feeling of emotion rose up in him, and he tried to keep it from surfacing.

After a moment, he started to speak quietly, as if he wasn’t sure he was talking to Edward or himself. “This is why I admire humans. Even with their short lifespans they come up with things like this. You know, I’ve been alive over two millennia and I’ve watched as humanity struggled and pushed forward despite all odds. It’s why I could never name myself Resilience. I can’t hold a candle to them.” He turned Edward’s hand over to study the back of it. “Also why it pisses me off when other vampires look down on humanity.” He looked up at Edward seriously. “No vampire would come up with this. I had over a century without my left arm and I never even thought of making myself a new one. This is astounding.”

Edward made a startled noise when Greed started to examine his arm. It was just a little uncomfortable at first. Winry and her grandmother were the only ones to touch it this much. He almost wished he could feel it as he watched Greed's fingers move over the metal. His fingers twitched with the phantom tingles of what it might have felt like.

“Well… did you need to?” he asked, looking up at Greed after his little speech. It had stirred a feeling of pride in Ed, and a small amount of sympathy for Greed. “Humans invent out of necessity for the most part.” Of course there were those who did just because they could and the amount of those people seemed to increase as the world advanced. “We were dying of illness so we created medicines. We were getting killed by predators and created weapons. The lame and crippled suffered disproportionately and we made things like automail to make our lives easier.”

Greed had needed his left arm, though not for survival, so he didn’t say it. Something as trivial as playing an instrument seemed like a silly thing to compare to a struggle for existence. But at the time it had made Greed miserable. Not to mention having to raise a child practically on his own with only one arm...

Turning his hand, Edward grabbed a hold of Greed's wrist and then pushed up his sleeve to reveal his arm. He ran his hand up the vampire's inner forearm and watched as the silver ring on his hand blister under the brief contact with the vampire's skin. The line of red going up his arm disappeared quickly and Ed ran his thumb over the freshly healed skin, trying not to think about how soft it was.

“Vampires and other supernatural creatures like you haven't needed to invent all this shit because you don't suffer from the human condition of inherently weak,” he said, looking up at the vampire with a little grin. “Us humans have just been trying to level the playing field this whole time.”

Greed stiffened when Edward grabbed his arm and couldn’t help but grimace as he was burned. A shiver ran through his body and a soft whimper left him and he was horrified when he realized it was from pleasure. God damn fucking masochist prince and his fucking backwards body. He heard a distant crying from the back of his mind, and he at least was glad he wasn’t the only one suffering.

He forced himself to hold Edward’s gaze. He was a goddamn top, for God’s sake. Thankfully, when he spoke his voice didn’t waver, but it was a bit lower than usual. “I think you’ve pretty much leveled it,” he said, “Humans might be weaker on an individual level, but as a whole you’re far more advanced. I personally give us vampires about another century of existence unless we step up the game.”

Edward nodded his head in concession to Greed's point. If not all vampires were either as beastly as the ones in the country or snobby and elitist as Greed described the ones in the city, they were kinda doomed. One was too feral and the other too prideful to be the ones to adapt. Although humans, or this one human in particular, couldn't have been that advanced since he managed to miss how he’s accidentally made Greed whimper.

Idiot.

“Maybe if more vampires were like you, you guys would stand a better chance,” Ed offered. He’d yet to let go of Greed's arm and was sweeping his thumb in small arcs across the inside of his arm. “Not so much the whole two souls on one body thing but being more open to cohabitating with us in general rather than using us as food.” He his eyes dropped down to where he was still touching the vampire. Making a noise in the back of his throat he let Greed go and scrambled for his notes. “I-I-I mean there are so many ways we could benefit from it! Do you have any idea the possible medical applications of your venom?”

When Edward pulled his hand away, Greed almost chased its warmth. His skin felt cold. He cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. “Yes I do, a very good idea actually.” He rubbed his own forearm, but his hand was cold in comparison to Edward’s. “I used to be very… selfish. I kept blood cattle, I left humans to die after feeding on them. It was about the year 500, there had been a battle in the streets, and a slave woman was holding her dying child. He had a fatal wound on his abdomen. I was so…” Greed shook his head, lost in the memory. “She looked at me, and she didn’t even scream or look at me with disgust. She looked at me and begged. I felt for the first time really, this drive to help. I used all of my secondary venom left to heal him, even though I knew they would probably die from the war anyway.” Greed looked down with a frown. “Even after that I didn’t really understand why. There were many other similar things after that, but it wasn’t until I met Ling that I really got it, the point of view of a human sort of clicked it into place. He wanted to be the emperor, which was an avarice that compared with my own. But then he said, he wanted to use that power to help the powerless. I’ve always just done it without a reason, just because it would bother me if I didn’t help I guess. But Ling’s inspired me to actually do it for the sake of doing it.”

Realizing he had rambled (about a particularly vulnerable side of himself, even!), he sat up and cleared his throat again. “But about venom. There was one human that wanted to utilize it for human medicine, but being a woman, other humans disregarded her. We actually had a decent thing going at some point, but after a couple of years, people just didn’t want to use it. Even if it could heal them, they refused to willingly take a vampire’s venom. It’s not as bad as vampires, but humans still have a problem with closed-mindedness.”

Edward listened to Greed's tale attentively, not really horrified or disappointed to hear that he hadn't always been such a decent person. It wasn't exactly a huge surprise after all. Born as a vampire and having it be normal to treat humans like they were nothing but food. It would make sense if Greed had taken part in keeping human cattle and the like. The point was that he changed. Es even smiled a little when he mentioned saving the child and how Ling had inspired him to change. He really wanted to meet the human. Both to ask him questions and because he at least seemed like a decent person.

That thought was almost instantly eclipsed by the revelation that Greed had actually worked with someone to uncover the medicinal uses of his venom. Edward leaned closer with a curious light in his eye.

“Do you have any notes?” he asked excitedly. “I mean I know humans have their own prejudices but they would put them aside eventually! How could they not? There is so much good that medical advancements like that could make! How does your thrall work?”

The last question may have seemed a bit out of nowhere but he was thinking of how much he would have preferred having his arm and leg reattached while under a thrall than having to feel the full shock of his nerves reconnecting. Was there the possibility to treat those with mental illness as well? Ed was suddenly overcome with annoyance that most vampires were so tight lipped about their abilities. And that it was standard procedure, no matter where you went, to burn their bodies when they had been killed. Even dead there was so much that could be learned from the monsters that threatened. Probably not just the vampires either. But werewolves and all manner of other creatures.

“Why do people let their stupidity get in the way of actually gathering knowledge?!”

Greed pulled his braid around to the front to play with it, a little surprised at Edward’s question. “Um… the thrall is a kind of magic, you could say, but every vampire has it. There’s a mind component and a brain component of it. The mind component is where I can talk to you in your head, and the brain component is more physical, it actually alters your brain temporarily and tweaks certain parts of it. So I can make you unable to move, unable to feel pain, take away your senses, and make pain register as pleasure. Some vampires have very strong thralls that focus on hallucination, and make the target think that something else completely is going on. That’s useful for targets that are extremely resistant to thralls. I’ve had to do that a couple of times but it’s really hard to make it convincing. I prefer to just be honest about my intentions and hope I’ve got a strong enough hold on it to last. Uncivilized vampires — Southern vampires, whatever is the politically correct term these days — don’t have a mind component really, they just pump as much adrenaline in the target as possible to paralyze them with fear. Each vampire has a different one really. A lot of covens have a couple vampires who focus their thralls on controlling their target’s movements. So say a coven vampire walked in here, they could enthrall you and force you to attack me. It takes a really strong one to do that, though. Daddy can do it.”

Suddenly the sound of a thunderstorm echoed throughout the apartment, and Greed turned around in shock to watch his fairy roommate walking out of his bedroom. When he closed the door, the thunderstorms stopped.

“Did you fucking hex my room again?!” Greed cried angrily.

The fairy, a tall and slender man with a feminine form barely covered by a long silk robe, brushed his long and loosely curled pastel pink hair over his shoulder and sighed instead of answering. He looked at Edward blankly. “Did you get a new human pet?”

“I don’t have human pets,” Greed argued immediately, “I just let them live here sometimes, and unlike somebody, they don’t put fucking thunderstorms in my bedroom!”

“Relax, I’ll take it off by morning.” The fairy went to the kitchen and started digging around in the cabinets. “Really, how do you expect me to sleep with those brutes moving mountains in the other room?”

Greed scoffed and then pointed a finger at the fairy. “You haven’t been paying rent either, bitch. What’re you doing in the kitchen? It’s fucking barren in there thanks to you. Ling has been throwing tantrums for a week—“

“I’ll do it tomorrow,” the fairy groaned, his wings fluttering in annoyance. He closed the cabinet and walked closer to the couch, eyeing Edward. He leaned on the wall with his forearm and put his other hand on his hip. “But who is this hunk? Is he your midnight snack this month? He looks delicious.” He bit his plump bottom lip and winked.

“He is delicious,” Greed said, feeling defensive, “And it’s none of your business.”

The fairy ignored that. “My name’s Elodie Fay,” he said to Edward, “And what should I call you?”

Edward had been so engrossed in Greed’s explanation of thralls and all that they could do that the clap of thunder made him jump a little. He frowned, looking around the room for a window before remembering that they were in a basement apartment. IIt looked like he’d be walking home in the rain. But then a door slammed, the thunder stopped, and Greed started yelling at a very pretty someone coming out of one of the bedrooms. Ed couldn’t look away for a moment. There was no way the pink haired vision was one of the werewolves Greed had mentioned. The fairy then. He’d actually never met one before, being pretty specific in the hunting vampires. They were beautiful… But also rude because:

“I am not a pet,” Edward snapped at the same time as Greed said he didn’t keep human pets at all. “You let homeless people live with you?”

That made the hunter smile and snort quietly in amusement. How could this guy argue that he wasn’t a softy? Even after being given a brief overview of his past, Ed couldn't help but think that Greed was kind of a pushover. It was sort of cute. With the roomates yelling at each other, Ed decided to take a second and actually work on drinking that juice. He got down maybe half of it before the fairy called him a hunk. He managed not to choke on his drink but still looked up in surprise. A blush crept up his neck and colored his whole face red when they called him delicious.

“What?” he muttered just before Greed had confirmed the Fairy’s accusations. His head swiveled to look at the vampire, a quizzical look on his face. “I’m delicious?”

Elodie was offended that Edward had ignored his question, and Greed huffed a laugh. He looked at Edward and shrugged. “Of course you are,” he said, then his face went blank and he added quickly, “I mean your blood is delicious! Not the way Elodie meant it — I mean, that too, but —“

Oh my god,” Elodie said, his face a look of pure disbelief, “You’re flustered.” He looked at Edward, his sky blue eyes wide as could be. “Greed hasn’t been flustered in a long time.”

“Fuck off!” Greed cried, throwing a couch pillow at the fairy, who gracefully dodged it. Greed’s heart was beating unusually fast and it irked him. “You can’t talk shit until you start stocking the fucking kitchen, bitch!”

Greed was flustered? Edward was flustered!!

It wasn't so much that he was ugly or that Edward thought himself terribly unattractive. He’d had his fair share of people hitting on him. At least his fair share for a somewhat surly and 'unapproachable’ 19 year old. Which, thinking about it, wasn't a lot. He never really connected with people his own age. Often times they had found him too serious and intense. And then there was the time he spent training with Izumi. Looking back he sort of thought it was remarkable that he’d managed to lose his virginity at some point. And he'd never… with a man. It wasn't so much that he was opposed. Just girls had been an easier option.

Not that he really hit the dating scene, definitely more married to his job than anything. His mouth dropped open and he tried to say something but he couldn't find the words.

“I.. I’m sorry,” he finally stuttered out. It sounded more like a question than a statement.

Elodie and Greed were consumed in another argument. “I told you I’ll stock it tomorrow!” Elodie said, crossing his arms.

“Bitch!” Greed cried, at a loss for anything else to accuse the fairy of.

Elodie was about to retort, but when Edward apologized he stopped and walked over to him. “Oh sweetie, don’t apologize!” He took Edward’s face in his hands and kissed him on the lips before Greed knew what was happening. The vampire stiffened up like he had been turned into ice and wanted to drop kick the fairy through the wall, but he knew that was too much.

Oh that fucking whore— Ling started, and for once Greed had to agree with him.

Elodie pulled away after a second or two, and held Edward’s face in his hands and looking at him lovingly. “Greed is a disaster. Don’t fret your cute little head over him.” He finally turned to Greed, who was fighting back the strong urge to launch himself across the couch and deck Elodie in the gut. “Don’t be greedy,” Elodie said, leaning over the couch.

“Go the fuck to bed,” Greed sneered.

Elodie only laughed, his voice infuriatingly melodic and sweet, and he took Greed’s face in his hands this time. “I know I’ve been neglecting my duties, but I promise, you’ll go to bed in the morning and when you wake up, the kitchen will be overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables. Ling can eat to his cute little face’s delight.” When this seemed to appease Greed a bit, Elodie leaned down for a kiss, but Greed turned his head away. “So dramatic,” Elodie complained, but kissed Greed’s cheek instead.

He gave Edward a wink as he stood up. “Well I would love to get to know you better, but I need my beauty sleep. It was lovely to meet you.”

Greed watched with narrowed eyes as Elodie returned to his bedroom with swaying hips. “Fucking fairies,” he muttered.

Edward wanted to ask what the Fairy was doing when he stepped up and cupped his face in his hands. He only got so far as to make a little Boise in the back of his throat before his unspoken question was silenced with a kiss. His eyes widened for a second then dropped closed as he leaned into it a little. It was a pretty nice kiss after all. Elodie’s lips tasted just a bit sweet but it didn't feel like there was anything on them. It made Ed a little overly aware that his own lips were dry and probably a little chapped.

He swallowed hard when the Fairly pulled away, his eyes opening slowly. As he was told not to worry about Greed all he could do was nod a little.

“Um okay,” he said before leaning back and succkinf his bottom lip into his mouth.

So far this was probably one of the most bizzare nights of Ed’s life. Feed on by a vampire, kissed by a fairy. What was next? He watched as the tall, effeminate man left the room again and offered a goodnight then looked at Greed with wide, confused eyes.

“Um are all Fairies like that?”

Greed made a disgusted face. “Yes, they are. I told you how pretentious coven vampires are. It might be hard to believe, but fairies are twice as bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if Elodie was the only fairy you’ve ever seen. They refuse to be seen with anyone other than fairies. It’s a criminal offense for them to sleep with someone who isn’t a fairy, which is why Elodie isn’t in a clan right now.”

Greed shifted in his seat, a frown on his face. “It didn’t seem like it, but Elodie’s mad because I drank your blood instead of his. He acts like his blood is the second coming of Jesus, but it has about half the nutritional value as human blood and it’s like being on drugs.”

“Oh,” Edward said, reaching up to rub at the spot on his neck that greed had drunk from. “I'm sorry? Are you two like.. a thing?”

He felt just a tiny bit bad for apparently making the fairy mad at Greed. But then it wasn't like the vampire wouldn't have known it would piss him off so he could lie in the bed he’d made for himself. Ed was likely to be in the same boat if Al ever figured out what he’d been up to tonight. Speaking of…

“What time is it?”

Greed shook his head. “We used to be, like a century ago. I kinda knocked him up, and I felt responsible so I helped him raise the kid. Even after the kid flew the coop, Elodie had nowhere to go so I let him stay here. It’s my fault he doesn’t have a clan anymore, after all. I’m sure he resents me, but fairies are really social creatures, and it’s hard for him to be alone. That’s why he’s so… intimate, with everyone.”

There he went again, spilling personal information that probably didn’t need to be known. Greed sighed and looked at the clock. “It’s about two. We’ve been here about an hour and a half. Why, you need to get home?”

He tried not to let his disappointment show. He really didn’t want the Hunter to leave. Would they ever be able to talk again? He was sure they’d see each other again, but hopefully Edward had learned not to run around at night alone.

Edward relaxed back into the couch. Finding out about Greed being a dad was surprising but the novelty of being surprised had worn off and Ed just filed it away with all the other little things he’d learned that night. Truthfully he was a little disappointed to hear the news. He couldn't think of any more questions at the moment but he didn't really want to leave either. It had been more fun than he’s anticipated hanging out with the vampire.

“No,” he finally said, looking over at Greed. “I can maybe stay another hour.” That was pushing it, though. Looking around the room, trying to find something to talk about and fill the time with. His eyes landed on the piano. “That yours or one of your roommates’?”

Greed followed Edward’s eyes and he smiled a little and sat up, clearly excited to talk about his hobby. “It’s mine, so are all the other instruments too.” He chuckled a little and brushed his bangs aside. “If I’m honest it’s what’s made my life bearable this long. It’s also my day job. I play piano for the radio. I don’t think they know I’m a vampire, but there’s probably rumors.” He eyed Edward a little. “I’ve always been curious about the kind of music they play out in the country. I’ve heard it before, but not much. The last time I went out there I got my arm torn off and I’m not keen on going back. Folk music is some of the most fascinating, especially the kind that tells stories.”

Edward stood, this time much more slowly. Since he managed not to knock himself out he moved to carefully lean on the piano. He supposed learning to play as many instruments as possible was one way to spend a life spanning thousands of years.

“Well who knows maybe I'll drag you out to the country with me next time I go. That thrall thing might be useful the next I'm need my automail worked on,” he joked, giving greed a small smile. Greed could get an earful of all the pinky, plunky folk music he liked so much. “Wanna play me something before I go?”

Greed laughed. “I wouldn’t mind as long as I have a place to hide from the vampires around there,” he said, “Sleeping outside sucks ass down there.” He stood and went over to the piano, thumbing through a stack of sheets on top ofit. “If you want to hear any of the impressive stuff, just listen to the classical music station on the radio in the morning. I have most of the popular stuff memorized: Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, Bach, all that. I have some original songs I wrote, but it’s not that fancy…” He stopped and grinned at Edward. “Oh! I have something you’ll like.” He sat down at the piano and wiggled his fingers over the keys excitedly. “So there’s this man named Scott Joplin that pretty much no one has heard of, but I think he’s going to start a musical movement. He’s a minority so none of the radio stations pick him up, but his music is starting to be heard around bars and such. It’s called ragtime. Ling was the one that first suggested I start playing it. This particular song is called the Maple Leaf Rag and it’s my favorite.” After stretching out his hands for a few seconds, Greed played a very fast and upbeat piece with complicated chords and a swinging beat, making sure not to play as loud as he wanted to so as to avoid waking up his roommates. When he was finished, he squeezed and opened his hands a couple times because of the constant octaves in the song. He grinned up at Edward. “This music always makes me want to dance to it rather than play it. That’s what I call genius.”

Edward propped his chin up in his hand as he leaned against the piano, listening to greed play. The upbeat tune had him nodding his head a little and tapping his foot. In a way it reminded him of some of the jaunty tunes you’d hear at bonfires and seasonal festivals out in the country. Both were fast paced and made for dancing. There was something wholly unique to this ragtime, though. Ed thought he liked it.

“Never really been one for dancing,” he admitted, smiling s little bit. “It used to drive Winry nuts when we were kids. She always wanted to dance with me and I never would. Lucky she had Al to dance with.”

Greed hummed and returned to the couch, plopping down on it and inviting Edward to do to the same and pointing at his half-empty glass of juice. “I’m not letting you leave until you drink that entire glass, by the way. But about dancing, I used to be that way too, for quite a while. It wasn’t really until last century that I started getting into dancing for real. Of course, that’s when humans around here started coming up with some decent stuff to dance to. I’m excited about what’s going to be coming up soon in the next couple of decades. Music has gotten so much more carefree and wild lately, with jazz and blues getting popular. Do they play that kind of music where you’re from?”

Realizing he was really curious about Edward’s past, he leaned forward a little. “In fact, you haven’t told me much about you. Have you ever been in the city before? What part of the country are you from, anyhow?”

Edward huffed but followed Greed over to the couch and picked up the glass of juice when he sat down. It was different, being the one having questions hurled at him but he found he didn’t mind. Besides, he supposed it was kind of fair, seeing as he’d asked so many. It seemed he’d forgotten that he’d already paid for those questions in blood already.

“This is my first time in the city and I’m from Resembool. Most of the stuff you hear out there is played on string instruments. There are some people with flutes and stuff. Lots have things like guitars, fiddles, banjos,” he smiled some, thinking of home. Even if he’d felt the urge to leave with there being so few vampires and next to no family there for him to speak of, the countryside would probably hold a place in his heart forever. “I think our music has always been a lot more relaxed and less stuffy than the stuff you hear on the radio.”

He couldn’t help thinking that Greed would probably like it out there when it got to be around harvest time and they started having bonfires. Depending on who had one going half the town would show up. There would be music and dancing, kids running around and shoving sweets in their mouths while the adults passed around warm cups of cider or spiced wine. There were always a few that would sneak off to partake in something a little stronger. Usually it was all in good fun and everyone was happy. One of his favorite memories of his childhood was going to a bonfire with his mother, Al, and the Rockbells. When Winry couldn’t get Al to let her drag him around she’d stand on her father’s feet and have him dance with her. His mother would dance with Winry’s mother and sometimes she’d scoop him or Al up and make them dance with her too. He never minded having to dance as much when it was with his mom.

“I think you’d like it in Resembool,” Edward said after a moment, offering Greed a rather soft smile. He’d been sipping his juice the whole time and started to swirl around the last couple mouthfuls, wanting to keep an excuse to stick around for a little longer. “I miss it, if I’m honest. Al and I hunted down most of the vampires out that way, though. I want to learn more. I want to help people. It’s why I came to Central. It seemed like the perfect place to do that.”

Greed grinned when Edward talked about the music of his hometown. “I’ve been to Resembool,” he said, “A long time ago, though, and I’m not sure how similar it is anymore. I’m glad to hear banjos and fiddles are still in use. I remember one time I returned from a trip out in a place where I heard a fiddle and I tried to replicate it on my violin. It’s hard to believe it’s the same instrument. I think it was Resembool that I heard one of my favorite folk songs too… it was about a man who turned into a wolf for a few years and then turned back into a human but always dreamed about running in the woods. I remember it a lot, especially when these two maniacs have their full moon run.” He pointed a thumb back toward the bedroom where his roommates were still loudly sleeping.

Dipshit jumped on the couch with them again and Greed pet his head idly. He didn’t really notice himself leaning closer to Edward while they talked, as engrossed in it as he was. “I’ve heard a couple of rumors about you and your brother and the havoc you wreaked out in the country. Some said you pretty much wiped out the vampires down there. I sincerely hope you nailed the one who took my arm, that fucker took a century of music from me. Imagine trying to take care of an infant all on your own with only one arm!” Greed gave a dark laugh with the image of that vampire being torn apart by Edward’s valiant figure. “As for wanting to help people, Central is indeed the place to do that, but I’m not sure how far vampire hunting will get you in that regard, at least under the leadership of the Fuhrer. That bastard’s in the covens’ pockets at this point—“

Greed froze mid-sentence, then said, “Uh, you might wanna forget that. Or otherwise not let anyone know you know about it. That could get you and I both into some deep shit.”

Edward grinned at the mention of the song about the man who turned into a wolf. It was one he was familiar with. Though it may have changed some since Greed heard it. It had never been his favorite song but it was special for its familiarity. His mother sang or hummed it often, as he recalled. He also liked the idea that Greed had heard of him before now. He was human after all, and as susceptible to the indulgence of pride as anyone else.

“Glad to hear I’ve made a name for myself! And I know the song you're talking about,” he said smiling at the cat. Sasha had curled up by his heel and was resting her head on folded paws. Extending his hand, he let Dipshit sniff at his fingers before scratching the feline under its chin. He was really getting a kick out of making the cat purr when Greed spilt the beans about the Fuhrer. “It isn’t just hunting. It’s studying! And I'm sorry but… WHAT?!”

He stared at the vampire, eyes wide. Edward did not think he would just be forgetting that so much as tucking the information away for later. Already he was wondering what could be done. Though at the time it seemed that it would be impossible to do anything at all. What could one hunter do against the Fuhrer? The answer was, not fucking much. But he could at least try to do what was best for the people with what little power he did have. Pressing his lips into a thin line he privately promised himself not to let corrupt politics keep him from doing what he thought to be right.

Greed felt an unnecessary amount of happiness at the sight of Edward scratching Dipshit. He really needed to get out more often, if a single vampire Hunter could twist his gut like that.

He’s not just a vampire Hunter, he’s a gorgeous example of a human being sent by God himself, Ling offered unhelpfully.

He knew it was useless to ask Edward to forget about the Fuhrer thing, and he shifted uncomfortably. “Look, I’m putting a lot of trust in you by telling you this. The only person who could have told you about it is me, and I’m already on their bad side. And who knows what they’d do to you if they found out you know. But…” Greed chewed on his lip anxiously and moved closer to Edward and spoke in a low tone as if that would help. “ I think the Fuhrer was made by the same vampire that made me. He’s not a vampire though, at least, not a full one. He ages. But he’s sketchy as fuck, and ever since he’s been in power, the covens have been able to just, do whatever the fuck they want without consequence. Believe it or not, I used to be on slightly good terms with the government, at least I could do deals with them and trust them to uphold their side of it. Now, though…” Greed trailed off.

Edward leaned in to listen to Greed, a muscle in his jaw jumping as he clenched his teeth. He didn't want to bring trouble down on the vampire’s head but he refused to compromise his ethics. He’d just have to be careful how he handled things.

“Well that shit is going to stop,” he snapped, frowning deeply at the idea of the covens running wild. “I’ll dismantle every single coven in this city by myself if I have to!”

It was a ridiculous notion but Edward was terribly serious when he said it. The metal in his automail hand creaked slightly as he balled his hands into fists atop his knees. He was opening up to the idea of cohabiting with vampires, especially ones like Greed. Not all of them were like Greed.

“I’ll be careful,” Ed finally said, after seething for a moment. “But I can't just let innocent people be hurt, Greed.” He gave the vampire a firm, uncompromising look as he spoke.

Greed stiffened. He knew he was overreacting; humans were reckless, and if this one wanted to risk his own life to fix things, he should be fine with it. But he wasn’t.

“You aren’t going to do it by yourself,” Greed insisted, “You’re going to get killed.” He frowned at the Hunter for a moment, but then he sighed. Edward was as hard-headed as Ling.

He’s right, you know, Ling said, This place really needs some help. And you know we have the means to do it.

The image of Roy Mustang and his friends flashed through Greed’s mind, and he took in a deep breath. It was dangerous. But hell, vampire hunting was dangerous. “I might know some people I can hook you up with. But you’re not doing this by yourself, understand?”

Edward frowned, crossing his arms over his chest when Greed insisted he was going to end up dead. He said he’d be careful! That being said, if there were people who would help him he wouldn't say no to meeting them. He was absolutely baffled as to why the vampire cared so much, though.

“Who do you think you are, trying to boss me around?” he asked, tone more teasing than combative. He slouched back against the couch and gave the other man an appraising look. “You're not pretty enough to be my mother and I don't think you're my daddy so what gives?

In the moment of silence between question and answer he finished off his juice but made no move to get up. He knew he would have to leave soon but he wanted to draw out their visit for as long as he could. After swiping his tongue over his bottom lip he cocked his head to the side and smiled a little. It ruined his look of petulant annoyance but he couldn't help it.

“And if you're so insistent about me not doing this alone, does that mean you're going to help me overthrow the government?”

Oh I’m sure you could be his daddy—

“Shut the fuck up Ling, it was so nice this past hour with you being quiet, god damn,” Greed snapped, looking off to the side. He returned his gaze to Edward only to find him licking his bottom lip and making that face.

Well now that we’re talking about important things I got over myself. And if you don’t agree to help him with the position you have—

“It is not that easy,” Greed argued, ignoring Edward for the sake of shutting Ling up, “You haven’t been here the past couple centuries, you don’t know—“

Yeah! I don’t know, and neither does anyone else! Which is why you have to help.

“I don’t have to do anything, bitch.”

It’s not like you’re gonna be alive much longer anyway! You said yourself vampires are going extinct in the next couple of centuries. And maybe you can change that if you take down your mentor. You know plenty of other vampires hate the Central covens.

Greed was getting a little hysterical, and Dipshit jumped off the couch when he shifted in his seat. “Oh sure, let me just ask all the fucking hobos in town! Imagine a bunch of peasants ran up with pitchforks and torches to the emperor’s palace and said ‘hey, I don’t like what you’re doing here, we’re burning this joint,’ that’s what you’re suggesting I fucking do.”

You aren’t peasants! You were an inside man! And you have an inside man to the government too! Multiple of them! And you have contacts in Xing thanks to me. The Council is not the most powerful vampire organization, and you know it.

“You’re suggesting a war.”

War is necessary.

Greed covered his face with his hands and groaned. “Stop! Let me fucking think god dammit.”

Ling was right, of course. He’d been pushing for this since they started sharing a body and Ling found out about the corruption in the covens in Amestris. Greed had denied his ability to do anything about it, until he met Roy Mustang years before, and Ling put up a fight again. Greed still insisted it wasn’t going to get anywhere, but it took a long time for Ling to stop. This time, Greed knew Ling wasn’t going to shut up until he listened.

And the thing was, Greed wanted to do it. He wanted the covens destroyed, he was tired of his low-class status and limited resources because of the monopoly his mentor had in the country. He missed having power.

After a few moments of thinking, Greed heaved a very big, very weary sigh, and he dropped his hands from his face, looking a bit miserable. “I can help you,” he said quietly, looking at Edward to let him know he was addressing him, “But I don’t know for sure how this will end, and I don’t know how useful I can be. Especially because the vast majority of humans aside from some upper level government members can’t look at a vampire without either running or attacking, let alone working with one. I think you’re different because you’re not used to civilized vampires, but most people in the city are, and they still see us as monsters, which… we are. But, Edward…” Greed took Edward’s hand in his own two and looked at him intensely. “I need you to realize this this will start a war. Not just a war between vampire and human, not just a civil war. A lot of people will die, and there’s a chance that we’ll lose and things will get even worse.”

Edward watched Greed talking to Ling. He wasn't sure what the human was saying but considering Greed's answers he thought he really wanted to meet the guy sometime. The mention of war made a little cold pit form in his stomach. Ed was young and didn't truly understand the horrors of war. But he didn't let the unease that had crept up on him show. He didn't want to see the undeserving die. He didn't want the world thrown into hardship. However, he didn't think he could stand to do nothing, either.

The hunter had become lost in his own thoughts and he was a little surprised when he felt his hand taken by the vampire. Their eyes met and Ed held Greed's gaze, taking in the seriousness of the situation. In the end, though, he just grinned and scooted closer to Greed with a little bounce across the couch cushions.

“Then we won't lose,” he said optimistically, his hand flexing in Greed's grip. “The humans who are scared of vampires won't change unless you give them a reason to. And like you said said, the way things are going your species is doomed,” he continued, unknowingly echoing Ling’s words. Lifting his automail hand he took hold of Greed's wrist and leaned a little closer. “I know there are enormous risks. We may die. There is going to be collateral damage in the way of civilian death. A revolution rarely comes around without violence. But violence isn't the worst thing. Apathy toward it is.”

Izumi had taught him that. There was a time when Edward was young, angry, and selfish. With everything that had been taken from him and the people he loved he saw no reason to help anyone else. His father had left them alone. The people of Resembool had been too frightened to take a stand against the vampires tearing through their farms. His mother and Winry’s parents had paid for it.

It had taken time for Edward to learn that if it was within your power to stop something bad from happening, you should. If everyone just sat back and let things happen they would never change. Not everyone was able to stand on their own two feet and fight.

Greed swallowed. He knew Edward was right, because this was how humans did the things they did. They risked everything even if they knew they wouldn’t live to see the result, just for the sake of making a better world. It was something that immortality took from a person. Once you live through enough wars, once you see enough plans go wrong, it’s hard to have faith.

Leave that to the humans, Ling said, you’re only here to guide them along.

Greed nodded. “Let me sleep on it,” he said, “I need to get in touch with some old friends. It might take a while. As much as I adore the telephone you humans invented, not everyone I need to reach can be found that way.” It hit him how close he was to Edward, barely more than six inches apart, but he didn’t mind it. He could almost feel the warmth radiating from the human, and his hands were already rising in temperature from the contact with Edward’s. He was very comfortable. “In the meantime,” he continued, his voice much softer and less urgent than before, “you need to keep quiet about this. I’ll leave it to your judgement whether or not to tell your brother, but just remember that the less he knows, the safer he is until we get things figured out. As far as anyone else knows, you and I have never met, and you are loyal to your Fuhrer.”

“Yeah, yeah. I got it,” Edward said, looking down at their joined hands. It was weird that they were still holding hands right?

Not that he particularly wanted to stop.

As a matter of fact he would much rather stick around and hold Greed's hand rather than go home and eventually explain all this to Al. And he would. There wasn't a point in lying to him because he would ferret out whatever his secret was after a while and would probably end up getting in trouble doing so. They didn't keep secrets from each other anyway. Not about big things like this. When Edward was in danger there was no safe place for Al because most of the time they were right next to each other. And if they weren't they were fighting to get there.

“You know my brother might just kill me before we even get this party started,” he laughed, touching his neck with cool, metal fingers. “I can only imagine the fit he is going to throw when I tell him I let you snack on me.” Ed paused to give Greed a sly, playful look as he tried to lift the dower mood. “This might just be the last time you see me!”

Greed grinned and almost giggled — thankfully it turned out much more like a soft chuckle — when Edward mentioned snacking. He had a very strong urge to lean in and kiss the barely-visible fang scars on Edward’s neck, and he wouldn’t have far to go, but he resisted it. Still he eyed the spot and slowly licked his lips as he looked back up into his eyes. “It better not be the last time. What will I do without such a yummy snack?” Greed turned thoughtful, and looked appreciatively down at Edward’s lips, jaw and neck. His voice was just above a whisper. “Though I would say you’re more like a delicacy.”

Edward watched as Greed’s gaze dipped from his eyes, down to his lips and without thinking, he dragged his teeth over his bottom lip. He wasn’t sure he liked how he suddenly felt hot all over. That telltale tingle was back, buzzing up the back of his neck and along the apples of his cheeks. Maybe this was all just some side-effect of being fed on. That had to have something to do with it, some affliction of affection caused by the intimacy of having someone taking part of you into themselves. Ed shuddered slightly at that thought and swallowed hard.

“That good, huh,” he asked with a quiet, slightly nervous chuckle. His eyes cut a hectic path across Greed’s face. It didn’t hurt that he was attractive. Or maybe it did hurt? Edward wasn’t really sure. He just felt a little ridiculous. Really, what was he compared to a beautiful fairy or whoever else the vampire could lure to his bed? And why would he feel so sentimental about someone he’d just met? “What did I taste like? I’m betting everyone tastes a little different right? What makes me so special?”

I’m glad you’re finally admitting you’re attracted to him, Ling said.

Greed didn’t answer him. He had admitted Edward was attractive upon meeting him, there was no ‘finally’ about it. Sure, he had tried to be professional when feeding but now that was over so he would allow himself to indulge a little.

He tilted his head a little and chewed on his lip while he thought about how to answer Edward’s question. “Everyone does have a different taste,” he said, “You’re more… natural tasting? Pure? But that’s because most of the humans I drink off of tend to have alcohol in their blood, and some vitamin deficiencies. I’m not surprised a country boy like you is healthy, though.” He grinned, then it faded as he thought some more. “But I wasn’t really talking about your taste. It’s the experience.” God, now he sounded like Ling. He looked away for a moment in embarrassment. “Ling talks about the experience of food being half of what makes you enjoy it or not. How it’s presented, what it looks like, and all that. It’s kinda similar with drinking blood. Feeding from someone who is spirited and interesting to talk to is such a better experience than feeding from a drunk person or some enthralled Hunter who would kill you as soon as you let go.” He looked back at Edward with a smirk. “It helps that you’re attractive too. All that considered, you are a delicacy.”

Edward found himself laughing quietly and looking away bashfully. That blush was stubbornly clinging to his cheeks. What kind of hunter was he, getting all flustered because of a vampire? A handsome vampire. A handsome vampire that apparently found him attractive. He was also interesting, fun to rile up, and deceptively kind. And Edward did like how Greed stroked his ego.

“You’re such a sap,” he said with a smile, finally looking up at Greed. “Is it normal for people to feel so… So twitterpated after you feed from them? Or are you messing with my head,” he asked, eyes flicking between Greed’s eyes and lips. Ed wasn’t quite used to feeling so caught up in someone like this.

It had to be at least 2:30 by now. He should have really been leaving but he just wanted to draw things out a little longer. Just a little longer. The closer he got to having to walk out the door the more he felt as if maybe the whole night had been a weird dream. It certainly had a dream like quality to it, especially with how close they were sitting on the couch. How they’d moved from trading blood for information, to deciding to start a war, to holding hands and sharing these stupidly longing glances while they waited to see which of them were going to make the first move, Edward didn’t know.

Maybe that was what made him lean forward so impulsively and press his lips against Greed’s. It was nothing spectacular and it didn’t last very long. It was just a brief, not entirely gentle meeting of lips. And then Ed was leaning back again, cheeks aflame and brows pulled down into an irritated furrow.

“Don’t say a word,” he said, refusing to look at the other man.

Greed grinned when Edward used the word ‘twitterpated.’ “I’m certainly not using a thrall, if that’s what you’re asking. Why, are you enthralled with me?” He chuckled at his own joke, but it was cut abruptly short when Ed kissed him. He followed Edward’s lips an inch, but allowed him to break the kiss.

He looks so beautiful like this, Ling sighed.

“Yeah he does,” he agreed breathily, taking in the sight of Edward looking flushed.

It took a couple of seconds for Greed to register Edward’s words, but then he hummed his acceptance (because an ‘okay’ would be a violation of Edward’s request), and scooted forward until their thighs were touching. He cupped Edward’s face in his hands and turned his head so he could reach his lips and kiss him properly.

Greed had had many kisses in his life, too many to keep track of, so the feeling of it wasn’t anything new or extraordinary. Rather, kisses were a way for him to connect with another person on a deep level, a kind of intimacy reserved for special people. Whether Edward was another one of Greed’s human lovers or sweethearts over his immortal lifespan, he didn’t know, but Edward was certainly special.

He took his time with the kiss, exploring the shape of Edward’s lips with his own, occasionally sucking on his bottom lip. He knew he had to take him home soon, but he wanted to savor these precious moments alone while they lasted.

Edward tensed slightly when Greed scooted closer to him but let himself be guided into another kiss. This one was far more breathtaking than Elodie's had been. It left him with the feeling of something molten bubbling under his ribs. Every time he felt the vampire suck on his lip his heart would thump a little harder in his chest and he felt that warmth pump through his entire person until it tingled in his fingertips.

Every now and then he would nip at Greed’s upper lip, his left hand coming up to cup the side of the vampire’s neck briefly before stroking down until it landed on his shoulder and curled into the fabric of his shirt. Breaking the kiss, he nudged his forehead into Greed's, their noses brushing together.

Hell, Greed had missed this affection.

Everywhere Edward touched, his skin blossomed with heat. The silver ring briefly brushed against his neck and he couldn’t stop the shiver running down his spine, or the low groan that escaped his throat from the pain. But nothing could compare to the sweetness of Edward’s forehead against his own, and he nuzzled forward, chasing that feeling of skin against skin.

Later on he might just say it was a lapse in judgement, or that he had been intoxicated by the night and it's oddness. But for that moment Edward didn't want to move. He even entertained climbing into Greed's lap and just staying there. He couldn't, though. He also couldn't resist leaning in a little closer and pressing akiss to Greed's cheek.

“I have to go soon,” he mumbled, knowing he had said that before and that 'soon’ was more like 'right now’.

 

Greed wanted nothing more than to refuse, to pull Edward into his arms and kiss him deeper, take all of the affection he so deeply craved as though he were starved for it, but he knew better. He knew himself, that he would always want more no matter what. So he kissed Edward one last time, trying to put all of his longing into it, and then pulled away and looked at him sadly. “Okay,” he whispered, brushing Edward’s bangs back behind his ears. “I’ll walk you home.”

It took a moment before Edward leaned away and stood from the couch. He probably would have let Greed keep him if he’d put in the effort. It was startling how weak he felt in the face of physical affection. But then he didn’t get it very often, mostly because he didn’t allow it. Before, when he was little he had gladly accepted affection from his mother and Al. After her death, though, he had become more surly and less likely to take hugs from Winry or even his little brother sometimes. Then after he’d lost his arm and leg it had been even worse. There had even been a period of time where he felt utterly repulsed by his forcibly changed body. Now, though, all he wanted was to feel those hands that so gently curled his hair behind his ears touching him just about everywhere else.

Sasha stood up and stretched as Edward grabbed the notebook that Greed had let him write in. His dog was excited to get going, even if her owner was far less so. He watched the vampire with a searching, not quite confused look in his eyes.

“Any idea when I might see you again,” he asked hesitant and just a little unsure in his interaction with Greed in a way that he never was when it came to things like hunting. It had him feeling a little off-kilter.

Greed picked up Edward’s coat off the couch and helped him into it, taking his time with it just to stall. As much as Edward wanted to be touched, Greed wanted to touch him, and he would take whatever excuse he needed. Because after the night ended, he wasn’t entirely sure this would happen again.

“You can see me whenever you please,” he said with a smile, “I usually return home from work around noon. I might be out tomorrow night just to make sure no other vampires lay their hands on you, but I don’t need to feed for another month. I don’t mind you coming to visit here during the day as long as you make sure to blend in a bit and check that no one notices. As good as you look in red, it’s a bit too loud for daytime sneaking.” He hummed and put on his own jacket before leading Edward out of his home. “If I need to get in touch with you, I’ll send Elodie. He can disguise himself as a human pretty well. While Ling does get around town, we’re both recognizable.”

Edward followed Greed, a little embarrassed that he had almost managed to leave his coat. This vampire just had his mind all sorts of scrambled, thrall or no. He let out a tiny snort at the comment about how he looked in red. It was hard not to scoff when told that Greed would be out making sure that none of the other vampires got to him though. Still, he allowed himself ushered out of the house. Sasha kept by his heel.

“Oh, my hero. Hiding in the shadows and keeping me safe,” he said, sarcastic and teasing. “By the way, am I ever going to meet Ling? I mean I technically kissed him too just now, didn't I?”

He looked away at that, staring resolutely forward. Much as he had enjoyed it, he still felt a little embarrassed by his show of neediness. That being said be would probably be back as soon as Al let him off the short leash. Actually the next time he saw Greed Al might very well follow him. He just hoped that he would let him alone long enough to feed the vampire next month… when had he decided he was going to be doing that exactly?

Greed nodded and winked at Edward’s sarcasm. He knew Edward could take care of himself and hoped he wouldn’t go around at night alone, but he still needed to make sure other rogue vampires knew to stay away. It was common for vampires to have favorites, and Greed was the most powerful vampire in Central that wasn’t in a coven, so calling dibs on the Elric brothers wasn’t too unexpected of him.

“You did kiss Ling as well as me, yes. We share sensations even if only one of us has control at a time. He tends to front during the day because I don’t like dealing with people and he’s great at it, being a prince and all. You’ll probably meet him at some point, I just hope he behaves himself. He’s wanted to front ever since we saw you actually, even going all out and begging, but he shut up when I started feeding, I think he got flustered.”

Stop talking about me!!

“Oh yes I will talk about you, with all the noise you made earlier.”

“Oh yeah? He like me as much as you do,” Edward asked, glancing Greed's way with a grin. Even if he was feeling a little awkward knowing he’d also captured Ling’s attention made him preen a little.

Winry would never believe him if he tried to tell her about it. He was starting to doubt that Al would. It all kinda sounded like a bad joke. A Xingese Prince, a vampire, and a fairy all walk into a bar and kiss a blonde. The blond only gets pissed twice though! Can you solve the riddle? The thought made him snicker quietly.

Greed laughed, remembering all of the pathetic wanton noises Ling had made earlier. “Yeah, I’d say he and I are on the same page about you. Though he’s a bottom and I’m a top, so of course he’s more obnoxious about it.” He winked again.

“Must be nice having someone to take over when you don't want to deal with people. The closest I get to that is Al. Apparently I'm not 'tactful’.” There were a few other phrases his brother had used to describe how difficult Ed could be with people. That was probably the nicest descriptor, though.

So far as he saw it, he was just very straight forward. Most of the time there wasn't time for candy coating and beating around the bush. Or if there was time for it, he didn't see the point.

Greed hummed in agreement to Edward’s musing. “Yeah, it’s pretty nice, though I’m only recently starting to admit it. I’m more like you, I think, when it comes to socializing. I didn’t let him front at all for a couple years because I thought he’d embarrass me, and yeah he does sometimes, but he’s also really charming. It’s… a nice change, to have people on the street genuinely like you, y’know? He spends a lot of time chatting with people at the markets, he even remembers their names and stuff they talk about. People who know both of us say it’s kind of a whiplash when we switch because our demeanors are so different.”

“Ling sounds cute,” Edward admitted before knocking his shoulder against Greed's. “And I like you, ya know. Or didn't I make that embarrassingly obvious just a bit ago,” he asked, having to wonder just how Greed treated other people for them to just not like him. Though if he acted with everyone the way he did around Elodie he could see how he might rub people the wrong way.

Greed had been the one that won him over, though.

Ling made an incoherent noise when Edward called him cute, and Greed couldn’t help but chuckle and return the playful nudge. “I’m glad I made a good impression,” he said, “I wouldn’t say it was obvious that was the case, but I sure was hoping.” Too many times he had been wrong. Even after millennia of relationships, he still fell for people of many kinds only to be pushed away for any reason under the moon. He was still wary of Edward in that regard, afraid that if he pushed too much he’d push Edward completely away.

Others told him that he was just too desperate for love that he tried to get it even when it wasn’t being offered in the first place. And even when he suspected himself of it, he couldn’t really stop himself from giving in and wanting the one thing you couldn’t take from someone but had to be given willingly. He thought it was the curse his mentor had given him, along with his name. And he had accepted that.

Thinking about what else he said had risen yet another question for Ed. How did a bottom and top sharing a body workout for them? With a snort, Edward raised both his arms and laced his fingers behind his head.

“I guess you two better hope I like to switch. I’ve never had sex with a man either way,” he said watching as Sasha darted away from his side like a little shadow and scared a pack of rats away from a bag of trash sitting in the mouth of an alley. He didn't know why he’d said it. He didn't even know I'd this kissing thing was going to stay on trend with them, much less if they’d end up sleeping together. He just felt like teasing a little, he supposed.

Edward had brought up sex, and Greed was ripped from his thoughts, cackling and stumbling a bit. “You’re funny,” he said when he caught his breath. He hadn’t really expected Edward to want sex, or rather he hadn’t allowed himself to hope for that much approval from the Hunter just yet. “I don’t think you need to worry about that if it ever comes to it,” he said honestly, “I’ve been in the world long enough I’ve done it all. Topping is just my default. Honestly, it’s more about showing affection and sharing intimacy than the physical pleasure of it. Ling, though…” Greed snickered. “You’ll probably see it for yourself at some point because he radiates this energy in everyday life, but God bless Amestris that man is a twink. He can be dominant if it’s a blue moon and the planets are aligned just right, but..”

Please don’t slander me like this…

Greed snickered again, remembering the various men they’d encountered since sharing a body. It was all Ling, as no one had really caught Greed’s interest recently, but a few times Greed had to lend a hand when a particular man wanted Ling to top and Ling wasn’t in the mood for it. And when Ling wasn’t in the mood for it, there was no arguing. A vivid memory of Ling crying in bed, ‘I just wanted to get fucked tonight,’ popped in his head.

Hey! That was a delicate time period for me!

That was true, so Greed didn’t argue. Going from a life as a human prince with a heavy future full of absolute leadership to a potentially endless life of struggling for power even within one’s own body had to be hard to adjust to.

Edward chuckled and shot Greed a smile. It was easy to forget the fact that the vampire was so much older than him. Where he had seen and done it all Ed wasn't even entirely sure what all he liked yet. If Greed truly was the man he had presented himself to be he could be someone to explore that with, though.

Slow down there, Edward. You just met the man.

“I’ve just had a few rolls in the hay with a few girls out in the country,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. Nothing special with anyone important but it had sated the curiosity he had about the subject. “According to Winry I'm too ‘surly’ and ‘unapproachable’.”

He actually used air quotes, rolling his eyes after as he crossed his arms over his chest. Tilting back his head, he took in the night sky. Central wasn't a brightly lit city. Nothing was open because no one went out at night but still, the stars didn't seem to shine as bright as he walked under the street lamps. He liked the idea of what Greed said sex was like for him. The idea of actually opening up to someone enough for it to actually be that seemed just a bit daunting.

“You know you're really robbing the cradle here. I'm only 19, compared to your two thousand something,” he teased, using humor to tamp down the bubble of uncertainty that had started growing in his stomach.

Greed slowed down his pace to a stroll as he also looked up at the sky, turning thoughtful. He moved closer to Edward and spoke in a low tone. Even though the streets were empty, it felt appropriate. “I know you’re joking but I actually used to worry about that, not as much with sex as it was like, actual relationships. It seemed like no matter who I fell in love with they were too young or too old for me. Either they were a twenty-something with barely any experiences under their belt or they were a sixty year old who was ready to settle down when I still wanted to keep moving in life. I sort of got a handle on it when I got my second body which was a lot older, late-thirties maybe early forties, and I really figured it out when I hitched with Ling. As a vampire, my soul might age but my mind doesn’t. I used to make decisions like a middle aged person, and now I make them like a nineteen year old. Of course, a nineteen year old who has been exposed to the idea of making massive decisions that would affect the entire country since he was a child, but a nineteen year old nonetheless. One of my siblings is in the body of a ten year old, and even though he’s older than me, you can really tell because of how he handles situations. If I was in my previous body I wouldn’t have told you half as much as I did tonight, and I sure as hell wouldn’t have agreed to the things I did. You can also attribute it to how much I’m rambling, to be honest. I never really did that so easily before.”

Greed's rambling was oddly cute. Edward stared at him as he spoke, a grin creeping slowly across his face. When he drifted closer Edward did the same, bumping their shoulders again. It also made him wish he had grabbed the pen he’d been given earlier.

“That's actually kind of fascinating. You keep your personality but act your age. Or the age of your body at least.”

Would he have taken off into the night with an older version of Greed? He wasn't sure. None of tonight might have happened if he had been in an older body. An older Greed may not have made the same mistake of leaving Sasha able to bark before trying to capture him in his thrall. Edward didn't think he would have liked that as much.

“I'm glad that you were nineteen when I met you,” he said smiling as he glanced at the vampire.

Greed beamed (which really wasn’t common for him, and it felt a bit weird on his face, almost as if Ling had fronted). “I’m glad too, believe it or not,” he said, “While there is something to be said for emotional maturity, I’d rather leave that to humans. This makes things exciting. If not dangerous and a massive hot mess too. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the sensation of knowing exactly what’s going to go wrong when you make a decision but still making it anyway because it feels right. I used to laugh at humans for doing that, but now it’s a common part of my life.”

“I’ve had my share of the sensation,” Edward answered, flexing metal fingers. Maybe it was something about being nineteen and feeling invincible, but he usually felt that I'd something was going to go wrong he would make I go right. Though things didn't always turn out the way he planned.

They were nearing the government building where Edward would be returning, and Greed slowed, growing nervous. “I’m wary of asking too much of you,” he said honestly. He almost brought up vampires having favorite humans (blood cow being the common term though due to the covens being attributed more to slaves than actual mutualistic relationships), but he swallowed the thought, forcing himself to think his words through. “But… I’d like to see you again. Sometime. And, if you wanted to… treat me to dinner again in a month, I’d be happy to return the favor with something better than a sandwich and juice. I used to make meals for my c— uh, the humans I regularly fed from. You know, if you want. Having to hunt for my food is a pain in the ass, and all.” There he was rambling again. At least he wasn’t as bad as Ling. The thought comforted him.

As the government building loomed in the distance, Edward signed. When he woke up in the morning it would probably be like none of this had ever happened, at least for a while. Except Al was probably going to be a real ass about waking him up in the morning if he wasn't already up and waiting for him. Ed shuddered and prayed for the former. He was about to say goodnight in an attempt to make it easier than dragging it out when the vampire started to speak again.

It was hard not to smile at Greed's rambling. There was just something about an ancient vampire feeling unsure enough to ramble on like that was cute. It also made Edward feel a little cocky. Because Elodie was right. He did make Greed flustered. So when he reached a pause in his rambling Edward surfed up and pecked him on the lips before he got started up again.

“I’d like that,” he said with a smile that turned just a little bashful. “Even the feeding part. I should go before Al comes out here and drags me in by my ear though.” He rubbed at his left ear, thinking about the last time Al had gotten in a mood with him for having done something very, very stupid.

Greed stiffened up when Ed kissed him. He wanted to pull him back for another one, being the greedy person he was, but Edward was right, they needed to take their leave. His heart was absolutely pounding in his chest, and it was annoying as hell. He missed not having a heartbeat. He’d been flustered and shy and pathetic many times in his life with his past sweethearts, but none of them were accompanied by that hammer aggressively pounding against his chest from the inside.

As distracting as it was, Greed breathed a sigh of relief when Edward agreed to meeting again. “I’ll let you go then,” he said, “Make sure next time we have the time for whatever we might get up to.” Feeling his usual confidence returning, he leaned down to nip softly at the spot he had bitten earlier, and whispered, “I look forward to tasting you again.”

Edward laughed, wanting to tell him that the next time they met was probably going to be awkward as hell if Al had his way. Not that he would have been any different if it had been his little brother stealing in after midnight with a story about covenless vampires and future plans to dismantle the government. Before he could, though, Greed leaned in and nipped at his neck, making him gasp in surprise. A shiver rippled down his spine and he felt goosebumps lighting up all over his skin. What was this man doing to him?

“Yeah.. me too,” he started before realizing what he said and flushing with embarrassment and a little annoyance. “I mean not the tasting you part. Not that you taste bad.” That was no better. Making a frustrated noise in the back of his throat he started flapping his hand awkwardly in front of his face. “I mean your lips.. mouth.. I…. I don't have time to deal with this! Goodnight!”

He made to stomp off, having forgotten, however briefly, that Greed made him rather flustered as well. He didn't want really think it was near as charming when he got to rambling, though. Sighing, he approached the government building, pausing only to glance back over his shoulder and see if Greed was still there.

Greed couldn’t help but laugh at Edward getting flustered. It made his own embarrassment completely worth it and more. “Goodnight, Edward Elric,” he said.

He put his hands in his pockets and watched Edward return to his new home, half to make sure no vampire swooped in and took advantage of Greed’s absence, and half because he didn’t want to admit that the night was drawing to a close. His mind was simultaneously reeling and silent with all that had happened.

I think I know what you meant now, Ling said softly.

“Hmm?”

About your life being a tapestry with each person a thread and each experience a stitch, and those few humans that leave vibrant and intricate designs that last forever even if everything else fades.

Greed smiled. “You finally get it now, huh?”

Do you think he’s going to change the pattern?

Edward slowed a bit and glanced back, and Greed did his best military salute, just like he had done for Roy Mustang years before. It had been a very similar encounter with the other State Hunter, without the kissing and piano playing. And this time, instead of sending the Hunter along his way with good luck wishes for his ambitious plans, he sends him with promises to make those plans happen.

It wasn’t until Edward disappeared into the building that Greed dropped his pose and answered Ling. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

Sneaking back into the building and up to his room were easy enough tasks, even when outside stood a very tempting reason to not go back in at all. However, the final act of opening his door and stepping back into the room was nearly impossible for him to accomplish. Would sleeping in the stairwell or on a chair back down in the lobby really be that bad? It had to be better than going in to see Al. The lights were still off, though so maybe he was asleep still? A man could hope.

Sasha made a quiet chuffing noise by his knee and the blonde finally caved, sighing as he opened the door. It was much like a motel or dorm room, opening straight into a room with two beds. There was a dresser off to the side and a very small kitchenette in the front right corner. Their bags were still packed at the foot of their beds, though, since they were only supposed to stay here a night or two before being assigned and given proper accommodations.

A window stretched over the two beds, the curtains left open just a smidge to let in enough light to see by in case we of them needed to get up in the night. As Edward peeked inside he saw his own empty bed and Al’s that was still lumpy with the young man’s sleeping form. Letting out a sigh, the hunter stepped in, only to feel something latch onto and yank his ear. Lucky Sasha got to run in and jump up onto Al’s bed.

“Where the hell were you Ed?!” Al shouted into his ear, making the short, troublesome blond in question try to cringe away from him. All that did was make his ear hurts as he tried to yank out of the firm grip. “I was worried sick! The only reason I didn't go out looking for you was because you already had Sasha so I wouldn't have been able to find you!”

“Al! Al, please let me go! I’ll explain--”

“You knew you weren't supposed to be going out at night! The vampires here mess with your head! They don't just run at you like the ones back home!! You could have been killed!”

“How did you know that already?”

“BECAUSE I LISTEN WHEN PEOPLE TALK!!!”

Finally Al let him go and flicked on the light. It blinded Edward for a second, Al too. But the younger Elric seemed to recover first because Ed felt hands on his shoulders, positioning him roughly so that he could be looked over. My gloves are gone. It was a silly thought that made Edward feel very childish for a second. And Al’s mothering didn't help.

“Winry was right. You're a fucking idiot and I never should have let you take us to the city,” he grumbled.

Ed finally got his eyes open and was staring dumbly at his brother. Somehow Al ended up taller than him, which he didn't think was very fair. Al would claim it was because he actually drank his milk as a kid but Ed wasn't convinced. His brows were tugged into an anxious v over his eyes. They were just a shade off from Edward's, just like his hair. He felt bad for the lingering glimmer of worry still left there and sighed. He would have been absolutely terrified if he had woken up to find Al missing.

“I'm sorry, Al,” Ed said quietly, this time making his brother sigh while he shoved his coat off his shoulders, looking for anything that Ed could be hiding under the layers.

“I didn't expect you to do anything else. Though I had hoped you would take me with you,” Al said, stepping back to give Ed a once over. “Where is your gun?”

Shit.

“Uh! Well you see...” Ed trailed off as he tilted his head and rubbed at his neck. Sharp gold eyes followed the movement and then widened a fraction.

Double shit.

“ED!!”

“I can explain!!!”

And so he did. The whole thing took surprisingly little time to explain, though he had trimmed it up a bit. For example, there was no talk of how he had kissed the vampire and acted like a little kid with a crush around him. Al listened, occasionally interrupting with questions or just to call Edward an idiot. All told they were back in bed a little after five in the morning, which Edward was pretty sure would give him a decent amount of time to sleep before they had to get up tomorrow. After all it was pretty normal for vampire hunters to sleep in during the day. They did stay up most of the night after all.

Chapter Text

Elodie was a little too good at disguising himself as a human. His hair was now platinum blonde and styled in perfect curls over his shoulders, his plump lips were a deep red and his big blue eyes were done up with makeup. He wore a fashionable suit dress with a pleated skirt and a buttoned coat along with a feathered hat. He had spent an hour admiring himself in the mirror before taking off to do Greed’s bidding. He had tried different styles, wondering how he could show off the breasts he’d given himself, but he didn’t want to attract too much attention.

It had been five days since Greed had found his newest pet, and Elodie could see the difference in his attitude. He was less grumpy, and Elodie caught him smiling a couple of times. He even let Ling front a little more, which Elodie enjoyed. The human was entertaining.

It also gave Elodie an excuse to see Roy again. Elodie never understood Greed’s obsession with humans, but if he were the kind to keep human pets like Greed did, he wouldn’t mind Roy.

Of course, Roy was no longer just a foot soldier, and had been promoted to Colonel, so he had his own office. Elodie planned on just asking around until he found it. Very few humans resisted giving Elodie what he wanted, so he walked into the government building with his head high.

Edward yawned as he came out of the building. He wouldn’t realize until later how funny it was that the Colonel he’d be reporting to in Central was Roy Mustang. He was just glad that their meeting over his findings last night had gone just a bit more smoothly than usual. Mustang just really rubbed Ed the wrong way. What with his cocky, arrogant, thinking he knew everything attitude. Fortunately they’d gotten through their little talk rather easily that day and all he wanted was to go back to the barracks and sleep.

Of course he couldn’t do that. Because Al needed to go to the market.

“Come on, Ed! It won’t take long. I just need to try and find these ingredients,” he begged, picking up on the line of conversation they’d dropped before entering the building. “We can stop at that restaurant you like on the way back!”

Well now when he put it that way, wandering around the market in search of an oddly specific fruit or something didn’t seem so bad. They needed to get more food for Sasha anyway. The dog in question made a soft whining noise and tugged on her leash toward a blonde woman as they neared the bottom of the steps. He thought the fact that they had to keep her on a leash was kind of stupid. She would stay with them! And even if she didn’t she was a sweet dog, as evidenced by how she chuffed at the woman on the stairs and started to wag her tail.

“If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were a witch, not a hunter, Al. What are you trying to make this time,” Ed asked as he gently tugged on Sasha’s callar. “Sasha, leave the nice lady alone. You know you’re my best girl but not everyone wants to be your friend,” he said to no avail.

“I’m so sorry,” All offered, stepping up to pull Sasha back by her collar. She whined but sat for him, her tail still thumping as she looked up at the pretty woman with the platinum hair. “She’s not usually so stubborn.”

Elodie was hoping to run into Edward at some point so he wouldn’t have to search for the man after his visit with Roy, and it looked like fate had shined on him. He offered his hand to the dog to sniff in greeting (fairies had better relationships with wild animals than ones domesticated by humans, but Elodie wasn’t opposed to them) before he beamed up at her handlers. “Edward,” he said, shuffling forward to hug the Hunter and kiss his cheeks. He really was adorable. “What a silly coincidence! I was hoping to run into you after the other night. What are you doing up at this hour? You should be in bed after hunting all night!” He lightly tapped Edward on the chest with the back of his hand. He hoped the human had the intelligence to keep the conversation vague, but if he didn’t, it wasn’t Elodie’s problem.

Edward blinked stupidly for a moment as he was pulled into a hug and then kissed on either cheek. Who the hell was this woman exactly? He looked her up and down trying to find something that would trigger a memory of here he’d seen her. And jeez was she tall. Wait. Tall. Kisses. Sasha was excited to see her.

“Elodie,” he yelped, earning a nudge in the ribs from his brother.

“Ed who is she?” Al was giving him this curious, almost hurt look.

Oh god, he thought he was seeing Elodie and hadn’t told him.

“No! She-she’s just a friend I met the other night, ” Ed said hurriedly to Al before turning to Elodie again. He couldn’t help looking him up and down again, pausing around the chest area because wow. Just… wow. They were very real looking and pretty big, and when Al caught him looking, he flushed with secondhand embarrassment and smacked Ed in the back of the head. “OW! Oh Uh… How’re you doing, Elodie?”

Elodie feigned a hurt expression. “Edward, did you forget me already?” Then he laughed and patted his cheek. “It’s okay, sweetie, we didn’t have much time to get to know each other, did we?” He watched with delight as Edward admired his breasts (they were very nice, and he was proud of them), and he winked at Al when he caught the taller of the two staring. Even though both of them were far too young for Elodie’s tastes, he liked to mess with humans in general. It was why he chose the disguise he did.

“I’ve been a busy bee, the boss sent me out today to do his errands. Oh!” He clapped his hands together. “Speaking of which, I have something for you.” He pulled around his messenger bag and dug through it, pulling out a smaller cloth bag which hid Edward’s gun, gloves, and some copies of notes Greed had made from back when he did that medicinal work with that human (a waste of time if Elodie were asked). “You left some things at my apartment the other night. I can understand, it was a pretty exciting time.”

Edward took the bag hesitantly as he listened to Elodie speak. He was a little unsure of what might have been in the bag, though he had some hopes that it would be his gun. Though he had tried he had failed to rediscover the alley that he had met Greed in the other night. Beside him his brother flushed at Elodie's wink, not that Ed noticed.

“How is your uh… boss,” Ed asked awkwardly, finding it hard to think of Greed as the boss of anyone, especially someone who regularly hexed his bedroom. He opened the bag as he spoke, pleased to see the gun but even more so to see the notes. “Thank you so much for this, by the way!”

He yanked the notes out as he spoke, making the gloves go flying. The gun was heavy enough to keep its place though and he tucked it under his arm while Sasha and Al caught his gloves before they flew away. The dog snapped one out of the air as it nearly landed on her head and Al ducked around his brother to grab the other.

“What's all that,” Al asked curiously.

“Notes about how to make some medicine. I told you about it,” Ed replied, giving his brother a look Al’s mouth dropped open in a small o.

Elodie rolled his eyes. “He’s a disaster as always...but a little less so the past few days.” He smiled and adjusted his messenger bag on his shoulder. “He’s got a new pet and a new project to occupy himself with now. Though he is sending me to do his bidding again. Also, he asked me to ask you whether or not you like Xingese food.”

Well, Ling had asked him to ask that, but all the same. Elodie thought it was ridiculous that Greed went through all that trouble for his cows. He didn’t have to make them any food at all, the thrall alone should be payment enough. It was for Elodie, anyway. And Greed took twice as much blood from him than he did humans! Of course, blood loss wasn’t detrimental to him, if he was incapacitated after feeding the vampire it was for the other things going on at the same time. Elodie was only a little bitter that that would stop now that Greed had a cow to feed him, but it was all the more reason Elodie was hoping for the best with his meeting with Roy Mustang.

“I am not a pet,” Edward hissed quietly, letting Al steal the notes from his hands as he crossed his arms over his chest. “And yeah? I mean what I’ve had I’ve liked.”

Honestly, tired as he was, just thinking of food had his stomach grumbling loud enough that even Al paused to look at his brother. Well it looked like he was hungry too, all the more reason to get whatever it was Al needed from the market and then find something to eat. The restaurant that Al had promised he could go to had a great chicken dish with pineapple and peppers that was just the perfect mix of spicy and sweet. His mouth started to water slightly. Ducking his head, he gave Elodie an apologetic smile and grabbed onto Al’s elbow.

“It was nice seeing you again Elodie. Thanks for uh.. Helping with this project? But we have to go! By the way, tell your boss I said hi,” Ed called, already draggin Al and Sasha toward the market. His desire to fulfill his mission of eat, then sleep, had been renewed.

“It was nice meeting you,” Al said, twisting in his brother’s grip to wave at the fairy before elbowing Ed in the ribs. “You know that was rude, Ed!”

The shorter sibling just rolled his eyes at Al’s chastising and took a moment to properly holster his gun. It wasn’t like it would be odd for him to have one. It just would have been strange that he picked it up from a beautiful, buxom blond. He wasn’t even sure if Elodie really liked him anyway. He seemed nice, what with all the kisses and was never outright mean. Greed had mentioned that the fairy was mad about not getting fed off of anymore and he supposed he was the reason for that.

“Elodie will get over it. Besides, I don’t think his boss would let him do anything too terrible to me,” Edward offered, earning a confused and slightly suspicious look from his brother.

“It’s good to see you again, Ling,” the elderly lady who owned the bakery stand in the market told him as he inspected her sweet rolls.

Ling smiled brightly. “And it’s a pleasure to see you, Bridgett! I’ve been craving your sweet rolls since I was here last!”

Bridgett stood up straighter and said, “I’ve been hoping you would come by so you can try out my new recipe. I know how much you liked those cream filled doughnuts I used to make.” She reached down behind the stand and then handed a single sweet roll in a paper covering to Ling, who gasped dramatically.

“Just for me?!” He exclaimed as he unwrapped the paper. If it were more than five years earlier, Ling wouldn’t have eaten the roll. Having grown up as a son of the former Emperor of Xing, he dealt with a lot of assassination attempts that often took the form of poison. But it had been about twenty years since he left Xing, and he had only been victim to similar attacks a few times since then. It had taken a long time, but he was getting used to accepting food from others. He took a bite out of the roll, only to cry out in delight as that delicious cream filling hit his tongue. “Oh my God, Bridgett,” he moaned with his mouth full, “This is a masterpiece. Just like the doughnuts but so much softer on the inside, and that crunchy sugar covering makes the perfect contrast.” He ate the entire roll and licked his fingers with gusto. “How many do you have?”

“I have about a dozen with me now,” Bridgett said.

“I’ll take them all.” Ling dug in his purse for his wallet.

I’m not sure how you managed to keep this figure as a human, Greed said.

Greed wasn’t the only one who ignored his counterpart regularly. He paid for the cream filled sweet rolls and asked about Bridgett’s granddaughter, much to her delight.

As soon as they entered the market Edward had an apple shoved in his mouth by an annoyed Al. Once they’d gotten close enough that he could smell the food people were selling he started whining about being hungry. An apple wasn’t really what he wanted but at least it was something, he supposed. For the most part the market here was just like any of the others that they had browsed through on their way to central. The biggest difference between the one here and the one back home was that no one knew him. It was also a lot more busy with what seemed like a hugely diverse combination of wares.

For the most part Ed kept his head down while they were pushing through the crowds, busily reading the notes that he’d been given. Occasionally Al would have to grab a hold of the back of his brother’s coat when he stopped to poke through a stall to see if he could find what he needed.

After he’d crunched through his apple Ed didn’t mind too much. Neither did Sasha. She was actually probably having the time of her life, getting petted by the occasional child before they were tugged away by a parent worried about letting the little ones pet strange animals. Back home, if she was lucky, vendors would flick her pieces of meat or vegetables when they walked past. Here, there wasn’t so much luck to go around.

“Hey Al. You never told me what you were trying to make,” he said when they stopped by a stall that wasn’t selling food at all, but jewelry, soaps, incense, and the like. He had thought they were looking for some kind of fruit or something.

“Just something to help me keep an eye on you,” Al replied, glancing over his shoulder at a pouting Ed.

“Are you still all bent out of shape because of what happened like a week ago?! I came back in one piece!”

“It was five days and you..” Al’s eyes narrowed and he cut himself off before said something unwise. “You’re an idiot and I need all the help I can get keeping you from getting stomped on since you’re so short.”

Edward looked absolutely scandalized for a moment.

“I AM WELL WITHIN THE RANGE OF AVERAGE FOR A GUY MY AGE!”

“Maybe when you were like 15,” Al said, shrugging his shoulders.

“I have at least one more growth spurt coming,” Edward groused, making Al snort.

Ling heard Edward shouting from across the market. He was still in the middle of a conversation with Bridgett, but he stopped her. “I’m so sorry to leave, but I just heard my boyfriend and I need to go say hi to him. Well, he’s not my boyfriend but I want him to be.”

Bridgett’s eyes widened. “Oh, well you better go ask him then,” she said, “Give him a sweet roll, I’ve found that helps.”

Ling nodded seriously. “I plan to. Thank you for the delicious rolls!”

“Of course, dear. Come see me again!”

Ling waved to her as he left. “You know I will!” He had wanted to visit some of the other stalls he was familiar with, but this was more important. He knew almost everyone who had regular stalls in the market, and he could return tomorrow.

Lifting up his bamboo hat just a little so he could see through the crowd, he pouted. Damn the sun, making him half blind. He closed his eyes and focused on listening for a moment until he could hear Edward again, apparently arguing about something. He followed the sound until he could see that adorable red coat.

When Ling got closer, he could hear that they were arguing about Edward’s height. What a strange thing to argue about…

Ling stepped to the side of the brothers and folded his hands in the large sleeves of his traditional Xingese coat. “Did you know that in Xing, there is a saying that the shorter a person is, the more in tune they are with the Earth? We have an entire fighting style dedicated to using that energy to unbalance those who are taller and stronger.”

“Who the hell asked you,” Edward snapped, rounding on the stranger that had butted in on his and Al’s conversation. When he actually looked at him, though, he froze.

Greed? His voice was so different though, and he had an obvious Xingese accent. But he looked exactly like him. It took Ed a moment longer to work through things than he would have cared to admit. Really who else would be wandering around a market in the middle of the day, dressed like that? No one but a vampire sharing a body with a Xingese Prince.

“I'm so sorry about my brother! He’s sensitive about his height and--”

“Ling?” Edward's interruption was hesitant. But he was fairly certain that he knew who he was talking to. Which made him a little less nervous about reaching up and touching the side of the man’s neck and stroking his thumb over his throat. “How is your voice so different than the other night?” He asked curiously while Al choked a little in the background.

“Ed! You don't just paw at people in the middle of the market!”

Ling kept smiling even when Edward snapped at him, and he returned the man’s curious gaze. Edward was so goddamn beautiful. It wasn’t fair. He wished they weren’t outside so he could get a better look. Though the sun did make his hair shine like gold, so that made it worth it.

When Edward approached him and reached out, Ling instinctively tilted his head to the other side in submission, admiring Edward’s face and ignoring his brother’s protests. His eyes were also gold, and it was the most interesting and beautiful thing Ling had ever seen.

“This is my actual voice,” he said to answer Edward’s question, “I’m not sure why Greed’s is so different.” He reached up to gently hold Edward’s wrist. “I’m so glad to finally meet you, Edward.”

Edward couldn't stop the bright smile, even if Al was watching them with suspicion. He didn't really want to acknowledge that.he was so happy to see the vampire again. Albeit the human half of him. He had wanted to meet Ling, too, after all.

“It's nice to meet you, too! I was wondering when I would get to,” he replied, sounding much more cheerful than he had moments before.

Al, however, didn't seem pleased at all.

“Ed. Is this the friend you told me you made the other night,” the younger blond asked, eyeing Ling up and down. His scrutiny made Ed flush and he dropped his hand back to his side. Even after explaining everything Al looked pricklier than a cactus. His eyes narrower further when he looked at his big brother’s reddened face. “You two seem closer than I expected.”

Edward’s smile was going to visit Ling in his dreams. Ling couldn’t wait. He swore that being turned into a vampire and losing the throne was all part of the universe’s plans to give him this, and Ling was happy with that.

Once Edward put his hand down and stepped back a bit, Ling kept admiring him for a few more seconds before finally letting his gaze drop on the other man. He put on his usual People Smile and stepped up to shake Al’s hand. “Hello! You must be Alphonse Elric. I’m Ling Yao. I’m assuming your brother told you about me? It’s an honor to meet the youngest State Hunter in history. You must be proud!”

“Ed told me about you, yes. Though in thinking he left a few things out,” Al said as he shook Lings hand, making Edward's shoulders jump up around his ears for a second.

He really did feel a little bad about not telling Al everything but he didn't think that his brother would be so okay with... whatever it was he started with Greed. Not so much because he was a man as much as because he was a vampire. The mention of the younger Elric's status as the youngest State Hunter in history was a good segway from the awkwardness, though.

“Oh yeah! Proud but not surprised,” Ed praised, slapping his brother on the back. “He’s the only one able to come close to my skill! He was bound to be a shoe-in!”

“Comes close,” Al scoffed, elbowing Ed in the ribs. “Need I remind you that you have yet to beat me when we spar!?”

Ling laughed. “I’m surprised! Edward seems like a very fierce fighter. Not that we did much fighting.” He looked at Edward with eagerness. “We should spar sometime. I haven’t trained much recently so I’m sure it will take me at least half a minute to win.”

Well I’m glad he knows you’re as much of an asshole as I am, Greed said.

It was only true, thought Ling. He hadn’t become the best vampire Hunter in Xing by sitting on his ass. He turned to Al. “I used to be among the youngest Hunters in Xing as well you know. I was certainly the best one in the country. It’s been a while since then, though. I wonder if it’s much different in Amestris…”

Edward made a noise very much like a squawk and Al had the kindness to at least try and hide his laughter by cupping his hand over his mouth. If he wasn't sure that he trusted the strange vampire, he could at least enjoy the emotional whiplash he put his brother through. The shorter blond looked like he was about to explode.

“Who said you would win,” he asked, arms crossing stubbornly over his chest. “I’ll fight you right here, right now! Let's go!”

The market was saved by Al slamming a hand down on Ed’s shoulder and tugging him back a step. Really Edward was absolutely ridiculous. Maybe it was because everyone always underestimated him because of his height. The eldest Elric just always seemed to need to prove himself.

“You are not starting a fight in the middle of the market,” he said firmly before giving Ling a polite smile. “I imagine there are some differences. I for one would love to hear about when you hunted vampires in Xing. How about you, Ed.”

Edward was busy fuming. He had been wrong Ling was not cute! Not even with that voice that was so different from Greed's. Or his smug foxy face. Or that smile! He was infuriating! Who did he think he was?! The only reason Ed wasn't the youngest hunter in Amestris was because his brother was younger than him! He didn't get there by letting twinky Xingese royalty push him around!

“Sounds fascinating,” he said sarcastically. It really would be if Ed were honest but he wasn't about to own up to that just yet!

When Edward challenged him, Ling visibly shrank, and a low whimper left his throat. “Okay,” he breathed, and Greed laughed at him.

You sure you’d be able to beat him? You’d literally let him kick your ass.

Greed was right. Ling really liked how Edward was looking at him like he wanted to rip him a new one. He took a shaky breath and swallowed hard, and forced himself to act presentable in front of Edward’s brother. The brother was the one he had to impress in order to keep seeing Edward, right? He smiled and nodded, brushing his bangs back. “I’d love to share some stories,” he said. Fuck. His voice came out a bit too husky. He cleared his throat, feeling his cheeks finally start getting warm. One of the odd things about being a half vampire was that his circulatory system was half as fast.

That had been odd.

Edward's look changed from annoyed to curious. He hadn't really expected Ling to back down so easily, he realized. Though, thinking about it, the middle of the day probably wasn't the best time for either of them to fight. Moreso for Ling than himself. After all Ed was just tired and hungry. The sun wouldn't cause him any harm. When Ling’s cheeks started to go red he cocked his head. Maybe he was getting too much sun.

“Are you alright,” he asked, pulling the glove off his flesh hand and pressing the back of it to the vampire’s forehead. It was more a habit than actually doing anything. Knowing how warm he was supposed to be didn't help him guess how that was supposed to feel.

“Maybe we should get out of the sun,” Al offered, looking around. “I finished my shopping anyway. I’ve just been dragging you around for a little while now,” he admitted, making Ed turn his glare on him

“You sneaky little asshole!”

Ling tried not to lean into Edward’s hand, he really did. “I’m fine,” he said, then tilted his head away from Al and spoke very quietly so that the younger brother hopefully wouldn’t hear. “It’s just that you do things to me, is all.”

You’re a fucking embarrassment, Greed said.

I’m a fucking bottom, Ling thought, though he wasn’t entirely sure it was him thinking that. He still wasn’t used to sharing a brain with Greed. Judging by the thought it had probably come from him, since he frequently needed to remind the vampire of that fact.

He took a deep breath and straightened up, putting his smile back on. “I was actually going to get some lunch before going home! Why don’t we go together?!”

Do things? What did-- oh!

Edward mentioned that Ling had been pretty vocal about how he felt about him before, hadn't he? That made Ed’s cheeks light up. He refused to look at Al, who he was quite certain was looking at him strangely. Instead he took a moment to study Ling.

He really was a lot different than Greed. They even looked a little different to some degree. It was all in the different ways they stood, or how Ling was more free with smiles while Greed was a little more smirky. He didn't think that Ling was really less bold or confident but he didn't have the same predatory sort of vibe that practically rolled off Greed.

Oh and he and Al must have been talking about something when he wasn't paying attention because they were walking away.

“Hey. Where are y'all going,” Edward asked, rushing to catch up with his taller company.

“We're going to eat, Ed! I'm surprised you didn't hear since you’ve been whining about food since we got here,” he looked back at his brother and gave him a kind of dead looking stare. “Unless you were thinking of eating something else...”

Edward choked. His little brother did not just imply what he thought he had implied! How did he even... AL WAS A CHILD!

“AL!!”

“Oh don't look so shocked. I'm 17 and a lot more charming than you,” he grinned.

Ling laughed loudly. “Oh I would beg to differ,” he said to Al, “Charisma is quite different than charm. I’m very charismatic, but I wouldn’t say I’m charming at all. Your brother, though…” When he looked at Edward, he had gone to wink, but instead found himself looking him up and down and biting his lip. As much as Ling wanted to impress the brother, he really wanted Edward to pull him into a side alley and make a mess of him. “He’s quite the snack.”

Nice one, Greed said.

Edward flushed and looked away from Ling when he bit his lip. Maybe he did have a little of that predatory vibe about him. As a hunter, Ed wasn't used to being the one getting hunted but he felt a little like he was now. Even if Ling was a bottom, between him and Ed, he was the one who was good with people. Ed was not smooth at all and had know idea what to say.

Thankfully he had Al around.

“Maybe you just have a type,” he said, casting his older brother a look before smiling at the vampire. “Now let's get you two to that restaurant before one of you makes a meal out of the other… again.”

Ling laughed. “Don’t you worry. My counterpart might have made a meal out of your brother but he has yet to make one of me.” And honestly, he would get on his knees right here in the middle of the market if Edward so much as insinuated it, brother and Amestrian God be damned. He poked Al’s shoulder. “I can see who the charismatic one in the family is,” he said, “I wonder, what kind of god did you sacrifice to to get that? Usually the eldest sibling is the most blessed. I’m the twelfth eldest sibling in my family, but I also have 31 younger siblings so relatively speaking I’m one of the more fortunate. It would have been me on the Xingese throne if it weren’t for this guy—“ he poked himself in the head, “— but now it’s my younger sibling. I’ve learned to accept it though. My sister is doing a well enough job. Oh!” He looked at the restaurant they had stopped at and gasped. “I love this place!”

Edward listened, letting Al do the talking. It was often easier that way. Instead he took the time walking to the restaurant to study his companions. Al seemed a little guarded, looking between his shoulder and Ling when his shoulder was poked. Though Ling seemed nice and non-threatening enough. He was a lot better at small talk than Greed seems to be. With how the vampire had talked about him, though, Ed wondered if maybe he was just being on good behavior.

“No sacrifices,” Al laughed. “Ed’s blessings just lay elsewhere,” he said with a small smile. “And I absolutely cannot imagine having a family that size!”

Neither could Ed, though he didn't say it. He didn't know much about Xingese royalty but he had heard all the same rumors about all the children the Emperor had sired.

“What happens to all the wives and children of the previous Emperor when another one takes power,” Ed asked just before Ling exclaimed that he loved the restaurant that they’d ended up at. He couldn't help but chuckle about it as they stepped inside. Ling was like an excited child

“It’s a hassle!” Ling said in response to Al, “Though I’m sure it’s a lot worse than you imagine. Most siblings aren’t pitted against each other to the death and worse in order to compete for the throne. It’s what led me to hunting in the first place actually.” He hummed while he listened to Edward ask his question, then waved to the waitress. “Three please! I want that booth in the corner there.” He pointed to the booth towards the edge where no one else was seated.

On the way to the booth, he said, “the family members of the previous Emperor live in luxury. They are considered to be related to divinity, after all. Unless the new Emperor says something in particular, at least. That’s happened a few times.”

Well he certainly acts like a prince.

The waitress that had been hailed froze for a moment but then kicked back into gear and led the trio to their selected table. Once they were seated she passed out menus before promising to be back soon for their order and dashing away. Al had been quiet but once they were alone again he frowned.

“Don't be too offended but that sounds horrible. Not the living in luxury no part. Just… everything else,” Al said said as he flicked through his menu.

“Yeah. I can't imagine having to compete for mom’s affection. Much less being pitted against Al and being urged to try and kill him,” Ed said, leaving his menu closed. It wasn't like that he didn't like to try new things. More that he was just really craving that chicken dish.

Ling removed his bamboo hat and put it in the seat next to him, and he shook his head. “I’m not offended at all, it is horrible. It’s absolutely barbaric. But it’s the nature of the throne. The most popular child of the Emperor wins.” He glanced through the menu and put a finger on his lower lip while he thought of what he wanted to eat. Once he had decided, he put his menu down and said, “There are a lot of children who say that they’ll refuse to participate, and some do refuse. They would rather just live a life of luxury rather than risk their lives for the throne. But most do want it, if for their own purposes or others. Me personally, I knew that if I didn’t win then one of my tyrannical and monstrous older brothers would win and send the country into chaos and destroy centuries of progress. So I killed them in battle.”

Edward and Al shared a look. Fratricide was one way to go about things. There was something a bit admirable that it was done for what Ling saw as the good of his country but still. It was hard to imagine being pushed to such a point. Personally Ed liked how things worked in Amestris. They were fairly democratic. The people had a say in who their leader was. Not that it seemed to have helped much when it came to Fuhrer Bradley. And at this point who was Ed to judge Ling when less than a week ago he’d decided he was ready to stop at nothing to dethrone Bradley by any means necessary. Honestly the little bit of knowledge made him feel a little better about it. Apparently Ling was noble and maybe a little bloodthirsty. If he wasn’t, Ed was sure Greed could be.

Who knew he would’ve found those to be such attractive traits.

“Well I’m learning new things everyday,” Edward said, biting his bottom lip for a moment. Al, who was seated to Ed’s left, gave his brother an odd look. Thankfully he was saved from questioning by the waitress. She came back looking a little less frazzled with a pen and a little pad clutched in her hand.

“Sorry I rushed off earlier! We’re experiencing a small rush,” she said apologetically, all while offering them a cheery smile. “Alright! If you’re ready I can take your order now! And if not we can just start with drinks!”

“I don’t know if these two are ready but I am,” Ed said, passing his menu back to the woman. “I’d like the spicy pineapple chicken with rice and vegetables and sweet tea. And please don’t bring me ice tea and sugar cubes.”

That had been a problem since they got to Central, before that really. He had never anticipated that people would respond to a request for sweet tea by bringing you a glass of iced tea and a few sugar cubes. Sugar didn’t dissolve in cold water and it absolutely stunned Edward that people didn’t just know that? It didn’t happen all the time, though, just often enough to be annoying. Al smiled and snorted quietly next to him before he ordered.

“Can I get the lunch special, with a sweet tea,” he asked with a smile as he handed back his menu.

“Isn’t that a steak sandwich with fries, Al? And aren’t you always telling me I should eat more healthy food?,” Edward asked as the waitress turned to Ling, kindly ignoring the siblings banter.

“And I’m so glad you’re listening to me! Don’t think I didn’t notice your order! Chicken and veggies, good job,” Al replied, letting out a grunt moments later when Ed kicked his leg under the table. “Hey! That was the metal one! That hurt!”

Edward was so cute.

You do realize you’ve got a lovesick expression on your face, right, Greed said.

“Yeah,” Ling said. He continued to watch Edward until it was his turn to take his order. The way the Hunter spoke and sat and argued with his brother, it was enchanting. He was so interesting.

Hey, Gaylord, they’re waiting on you.

Ling sat up straight and looked at the waitress with a pleasant smile. “I’ll have the filet mignon, rare. Is Robert working today?”

The waitress thought for a moment, then nodded. “He is, actually!”

“Good,” Ling said, “I’d like him to cook my order. He’s the best at filet. I can always tell when someone else makes it. And can I have a sweet tea as well? Thank you.”

When the waitress left, he said, “I’ve never had sweet tea before, you know. But now I have to try it. I love tea but in Xing we really only have hot tea. Even the hot tea here isn’t the same. I’m curious.” He smiled at Edward; not his usual People Smile, but just because Edward made him want to smile. “I’m also curious about you. Where did you learn to fight? Were you taught properly or did you just learn what you had to in order to kill vampires in the country?”

“Well you're in for a treat. Most of the time they have pretty good sweet tea here. If i ever drag you back to Resembool you’ll be able to taste the best, though,” Edward said fondly, thinking of Granny Pinako’s tea. It was almost as good as their mother’s had been. “As for where I, or rather, we learned to fight. It was kind of a combination of both being self taught and having someone teach us,” he admitted.

“Out in the country a lot of people can at least defend their homes from a single vampire. You don't need any certification out there. It's akin to killing vermin,” Al continued while the waitress scuttled off.

“Right! And since they will tear through all your livestock you can't always wait for a hunter and have to deal with it yourself. Or at the very least run it off,” Ed said, picking things up again. It would be a little while until their drinks even came out, probably. They didn't always have sweet tea already prepared. “And with it just being us and our mother we learned some on our own.”

“Not enough,” Al said quietly, mouth dropping into a small frown.

“We were kids, Al. We couldn't have don't anything.” Edward reached over to touch his brother's shoulder. “Anyway, we met our teacher sometime after our mother died and she trained us for a few years.”

“She's the toughest lady I ever met,” Al said, staring into the distance as he thought of his old teacher.

“She's the toughest anything. I’ve never encountered anything that scared me as much as an angry Izumi,” Ed admitted with a laugh.

Despite the dark cloud that he briefly cut a path across the brother's faces at the mention of their mother, they had seemed rather happy talking about the people they knew back home. It hadn't occurred to Ed that they hadn't been able to talk to anyone about their life back home. They hadn't exactly been around long enough to make friends. It wasn't like strangers cared about the lives they had before. It felt good to share little things like this though. And as much as he joked, he realized that part of him did want to take Greed and Ling to Resembool.

He wasn't sure of how the people would take to him but he could show the vampire his favorite things about his home. There was the creek that cut through the woods and fed into the nearby river. He, Al, and Winry had played there often. After Ed’s mother died he would sometimes go there alone and just listen to the water. There was also sitting on the Rockbell’s roof at night and listening to the coyotes. Sometimes you could even hear the train out in the distance. Along with that came the stars. It was one of the things Ed missed the most about Resembool. He didn't know why they didn't seem near as miraculous here in the city.

He didn't even realize he was staring at Ling with a dopey little smile on his face until the waitress came back with their tea. A glass was put in front of him and he jolted in his seat. Red colored his face as he looked around the table and found Al giving him an utterly disgusted look.

“Shut up,” he hissed after the waitress left, saying their food would be ready soon. Al just raised a brow, since he hadn't actually said anything. “I’ll tell Winry you had a crush on her when we were kids!”

Al flushed a little himself at the threat and pouted.

“So did you!” Al complained, sipping at his tea.

“Yeah until she stopped yelling at me and started hitting me,” Ed whined, lifting a hand to run at the back of his head.

Ling listened intently, trying to imagine what it would be like for them. He had never been to Resembool or any place like it, and all he had access to were Greed’s memories, which were extremely dark and terrifying. Being surrounded by speechless vampires fighting to pick you apart one by one, unable to fight them all off, while your mentor watched from a distance with that same stony expression… Trying to imagine a young Edward and Alphonse fighting even one of those monsters was difficult. And losing their mother along the way…

He smiled when the brothers mentioned their teacher. “I have also had a few lovely teachers,” he said, “Some of them were gentle and supportive, and others were cruel but gave me the strength I needed. Without any of them I would have never made it past ten years old! I suppose those vampires you grew up with were also teachers for you in the way my elder brothers were teachers for me.”

He saw Edward staring at him, and he smiled back, resting his chin on his hand. “You two must have been so valiant. Even if everyone knew how to fight, you rose above the rest. And you’ve lost along the way, too. I’m not surprised at all that you were offered the position as State Hunters.” Ling had met a few individuals outside of the royal family with as much mental fortitude as himself, but usually they were much older.

When the waitress put his tea down, Ling thanked her and picked up his glass while he listened to the brothers argue. He smiled at their banter and took a sip of his tea, then immediately grimaced. He was about to put it down and say it tasted gross, but after a few seconds of that sweet aftertaste, he realized it wasn’t that bad. He sipped it again with the same results. “This is strange.”

“Is it,” Edward asked, sipping at his own tea. Sure it wasn't as good as Pinako's, but it was alright. He was almost sure she was some kind of witch, anyway. “I like it. Then again I can't imagine drinking warm tea.”

“Personally I think this is a little too sweet,” Al countered, setting his glass down. At least he stopped looking at Ed. “What was it like for you growing up in Xing?”

“Honestly it sounds kind of traumatic and horrible from what you've said so far,” Edward said, the last word getting cut off by a gasp of pain. “What was that for?!”

Al’s head had snapped toward Ed few words in. Honestly, he was surprised his brother hadn't hurt himself. He had hurt Ed’s leg when he kicked him, though. Apparently he was being rude.

“I’m sorry,” he tried, looking between Ling and Al.

Ling looked between the brothers, a little confused. “Sorry for what? He’s right. I wouldn’t wish the life of a Xingese prince on anybody. In fact I had planned on ending the tradition of keeping fifty wives anyway, but there were other reasons for that too. You could say my childhood was… intense. I was trained to fight at the same time I was trained to walk, really. I spent all of my childhood training, both for my physical prowess as well as general education required for all children of the Emperor. It wasn’t all bad, though. I was raised that way, so I didn’t know any different. For me, seeing my progress in training and getting praised by my teachers was what made me happy. Of course, part of being a prince is keeping your reputation. You want to be the most popular in Xing, and you want to show that you are honorable and strong. So when another prince challenges you in battle, you can’t say no or else you will be showing weakness. My fifteen year old brother challenged me to my first battle when I was twelve.”

Ling brought his ponytail around his shoulder and started to play with it idly. He was starting to feel the effects of sleep deprivation, but he was also energized by the prospect of food and being close to Edward. “My mother begged me not to accept, she said that I wasn’t officially supposed to fight until I was fifteen and no one would blame me for not accepting, but I wanted to show my strength to Xing. Now I kind of wished I hadn’t accepted. Being forced to kill your own brother is hard for anybody, let alone a young boy. It wasn’t supposed to be a fight to the death, either. Those aren’t the rules until seventeen, when they become optional. But this brother had made it clear he intended to kill me.” He chewed on his lip for a second, unsure of how much Alphonse and Edward wanted to hear about his bloody past. “I had a lot of friends. Most of them were indebted to me, but some of them were on equal footing as me. Lan Fan was one of my best friends, and she was my servant and advisor. She was also my partner in battle, along with her grandfather. I still see Lan Fan sometimes, though she is much older now. She’s one of the few in Xing who still consider me to be of royal blood.”

“No wonder Edward likes you. You may be good with people but neither of you really bother with social niceties when you don't have to, do you,” Al said, smiling despite the slightly exasperated tone to his voice. “Some people would think it was rude to accuse people of having horrible childhoods and discussing murder over lunch!”

Ling waved his hand and laughed. “You were the one that asked! Besides, this is very normal for me. I’m not the most well-versed in Amestrian etiquette, even after twenty years of living here.”

Edward rolled his eyes. He didn't see what the big deal was. To be honest he thought life would be a lot easier if people weren't offended by simple curiosity or keen observations. Not that one needed to be a master detective to determine that Ling’s childhood had been brutal. Ling's story had been a little horrifying. If not for its content, then just the idea alone that you couldn't entirely trust any of your family. Ed couldn't imagine ever hurting Al much less trying to kill him.

“Was any of your childhood fun or was it just one terrible experience after another,” Ed asked and this time Al didn't try to reprimanded him for his lack if tact or ability to have light dinner conversation. He was curious as well, after all. Al was just more mindful about possibly offending people than Ed was.

He hummed in thought when Edward asked about his childhood. “There was a lot of fun for me, but it might not have been what you would call fun. I played with my friends often, but it was frequently also training. Sort of how puppies and kittens will play with each other to learn how to fight as adults. I also enjoyed learning, especially about art and languages. I enjoyed spending time with my animals, too. I had a lovely horse, and some cats and dogs. I guess you could say the most fun I’ve had in my life was after I started vampire hunting, and especially after I met Greed.” He looked down and smiled a little mischievously, remembering all of the things he and Greed got away with. Without a reputation to worry about, a man had a lot of freedom.

“I can see how training could be fun. Not so sure about the other stuff,” Edward said, wrinkling his nose. He could look at a piece of art and think it was pretty but that was about it. Languages he could get behind, if only for their usefulness.

“Edward has always been more interested in history and science than the arts,” Al clarified as the waitress showed back up with a tray balanced in her hand. She passed out all their plates and got a very kind thank you in return. Then, after she left, Al looked at Ling again. “As for Amestrian etiquette, I guess we aren’t always that straight forward. Or entirely open. Generally when asked about your life you’re expected to give light sort of answers rather than delving into anything that would seem unseemly. Honestly it seems like the higher up in status you get the more conversations are filled with double meanings and thinly veiled insults.”

“It’s all for appearances because everyone has some agenda and it’s stupid,” Ed said with a frown. The irony was not lost on his words since he too now had a second agenda to worry about. For the most part, though, he preferred that people were straight forward and didn’t try to hide their true thoughts in cleverly worded little digs.

Ling nodded, thinking over it. “The same goes for Xingese politics, at least the underlying meanings. But in the royal family, violence and war and other unpleasant parts of running a country is seen as normal topics of conversation. But…” Ling put a finger on his lip and looked at Edward. “I tend to share more personal parts of myself with those I’m close with.” His gaze turned to Alphonse. “And because you’re his brother, you have a pretty high level of importance as well. For Greed too, though he might not act like it if you ever meet him.”

He inspected his filet and cut it into two pieces, and hummed happily when he saw that the center was a pretty reddish pink. “Do you two usually stay awake during this hour? I would imagine you have a nighttime schedule.”

“Not usually, no,” Edward answered as he cut into his chicken. It was everything he had been wanting. The peppers and pineapple slices laid overtop his chicken breast were just a little charred around the edges, like he liked them. He couldn't even find it in himself to be too jealous about the fries on Al’s plate. “But Al seems to want to branch out into witchcraft as well as hurting so we had to come find some ingredient he needs.”

Edward popped a piece of chicken and pineapple in his mouth as Al rolled his eyes. He had been impatiently picking at his fries and waiting for them to cool down enough for him to eat.

“Nothing wrong with learning a little magic here and there, Ed. Especially when your brother is an impulse idiot who gets a kick out of making you worry yourself sick,” he pointed out to the older Elric before turning to look back at Ling. “Here we would probably keep all that under wraps, to be honest. And I am flattered to know you and Greed think so highly of me,” Al continued with a quiet chuckle. “Especially since you two and my brother seem a little closer than I anticipated before.”

Ed froze. There was something in Al's tone putting him on edge. When he glanced up his little brother was resting his elbows on the table, fingers laced in a loose bridge over his plate. He cast Edward only the brief eat glance before focusing on Ling.

“What are your plans regarding him anyway? He told me about your little dinner date and lively political discussion but I'm just curious if you’re actually seeing this all the way through or if my brother is just a meal ticket.”

“Al! Stop it! Aren't I the one supposed to be giving your er.. love interests.. the shovel talk. Not the other way around,” Edward asked, his flush spreading to his ears.

“I mean probably but I don't have one and you do.”

Ling had been thoroughly enjoying his steak until Al mentioned his plans, and he put his fork and knife down and waved his hand frantically. “I’m not allowed to talk about that!! Greed said he would shave my head if I messed that up. As for my plans, though…” Ling sucked on his bottom lip for a second while he eyed Edward across the table. “That might be impolite to talk about over lunch.”

Edward choked a little when he met Ling's gaze across the table. He could only imagine what was going on in that brain of his. Poor Al looked absolutely scandalized. He whipped his head around and motioned to the former prince with one hand.

“This is your type,” he asked, eyes wide.

“Hey! I just met him today! I didn't know he was shamelessly horny! I'm honestly kind of scared of what will happen if you leave me alone with him,” Edward tried to joke, his eyes cautiously flitting between Al and Ling as the later started to talk to himself.

Hey punk, let me front.

Ling frowned. “But I’m having fun,” he whined.

I won’t stay long.

“You promise? Don’t eat my food! You can’t eat a steak correctly.”

And you can’t drink blood correctly.

“Fine.” Ling stared longingly at Edward for a moment before allowing Greed to take control.

Greed looked around the room, scanning it for any government members or other familiar faces before pushing his plate back a bit and leaning in to speak to the brothers in a very quiet tone. “Hopefully Elodie has managed to find the government member we worked with before. He’ll report back to me tonight. I’ve got a couple of rogues on my side and I hope to get more over the next couple of weeks. I’ve contacted some foreign groups as well, we have at least one of them with us, others are discussing it. I’ve sent letters to others, but that might take a month or so to meet with them. Right now it’s looking good but I’m hesitant to be optimistic.”

The difference between Ling and Greed was obvious to Ed, probably Al too. He may have still looked like the 19 year old he whose body he shared but he didn't really feel the same way. He seemed older. Maybe it was just his more serious personality. Or maybe it was just the fact that he actually was so much older. Even if he was making decisions and acting like a 19 year old, he had the knowledge of a several thousand years old vampire after all.

Al’s lips thinned into a tense line even as Ed leaned forward to listen to Greed speak. The grin on his face was huge, partly because he got to see the two switch places and catalog the differences between Greed and Ling. But there was also the fact that he was happy to hear from Greed. He was even more happy to hear that he was already putting feelers out and contacting people as he said he would.

“Well then I’ll be optimistic for the both of us,” Edward said with a chuckle. He reached toward his brother's plate with a grin. “We’ve got the ball rolling and what's the worse that happens? They say no? It might take longer get but I can figure out how to do this on my own if your friends don't want to play.”

“That's all well and good,” Al said, slapping Ed’s hand when he tried to sneak a fry. “But you aren't invincible, Ed! Once this whole thing gets going it isn't going to stop!” He actually looked a little worried, which tamed some of Ed’s wild spirit. Al nervously dragged his lip between his teeth. “and it is great you're talking to people but you two have a lot less to lose by pulling out if this crazy train goes off the rails,” his gaze, which was still heated despite his worry, landed on Greed. “So if anything happens to my brother because you decided to leave us high and dry I will drag you to Resembool and see what sorts of neat and interesting things Granny Pinako can turn you into!”

That was a sobering thought. After all Greed and Ling may have been interested in him and he may have been a great snack but what was there really to tie them together? Is it too early in the day to ask for a little liquor for my tea? He couldn't say Al wasn't bringing up some good points. Things had seemed so intense during that dream-like night he stayed with Greed. It would make sense of he cut ties with Ed with thing went crazy but for some reason it hurt a little to think there was a possibility that he would.

Greed’s eyes went wide, not with shock or anger but rather with pure intensity, and he leaned back and stared at Alphonse, putting all of his focus on the younger brother. He spoke just as quietly as before, but this time more slowly, and with emphasis. “There isn’t anything you can threaten me with to which I haven’t been a victim before, kid. You don’t know anything about what I’ve been through.” He turned his piercing gaze to Edward. “But you chose to trust my word, and I chose to trust yours.” He looked back at Alphonse. “Don’t mistake my willingness for safety. Victory is the only situation in which I get out alive. There is no escaping for me. There is for the both of you, however. You’re young and passionate humans with no experience of real war, and a possibility of survival should you flee. Which is why I will see this through, regardless of whether or not you join me. So if you wish to keep threatening me and doubting my word, feel free to remove yourself from this operation, and I will continue without you.”

You’re going to ruin my lunch date, Ling said.

Edward sat back to watch the tennis match, not really upset that Greed was getting a little sassy with Al. His brother would handle it better than he would. The youngest at their table leaned forward and sighed, pressing the knuckle of his index finger in between his eyes. It was at least obvious to Edward that he was annoyed.

“Oh excuse me for being a little more cautious than my brother when it comes to just trusting mysterious strangers that he met, in the street, in the middle of the night, who then put him in a thrall and fed off him,” Al said, hissing the last part and giving Greed a look. “Can you really not see why I might be a little concerned?! It isn’t like we’re about to throw the country into war or anything! EDWARD STOP EATING MY FOOD!”

Ah! Well the distraction had worked for a little while. Ed drew his hand back to his own part of the table and he went from stealing his brother’s fries to popping a forkful of rice in his mouth. He could see his little brother gearing up for another little rant. Really it wasn’t hard to understand why Al was worried but for the sake of Al and Greed getting along, he kicked his brother under the table. Not not hard. Just enough to get his attention.

“Hey, Al. You trust me right,” Ed said quietly, a smile on his face. The tenseness left Al’s shoulders after a moment and he sighed.

“Yes,” Al finally said, pouting down at his food because he knew exactly where this was going.

“Then it doesn’t matter if you trust them,” Ed said brightly, pausing to eat a small chunk of pineapple. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere any time soon,” he said, glancing at Greed as he spoke. He found he wasn’t 100% true. Maybe 80%. 70%, at the very least. It was enough for him to take a risk on, was the point. “And if he does we’ll deal with it.”

“Fine,” Al said reluctantly before motioning over to Greed with his thumb. “But if anything happens to you I’m still taking it out on him. I don’t care if you’re too big and bad to be properly hurt by the little farm boy. It’ll make me feel better.”

Greed waited patiently until they were done talking amongst themselves before addressing Alphonse. “I never said you can’t hurt me, just that worse has been done before, so I’m not as moved by those threats as you might wish. And for what it’s worth, I promise to do my best to keep both you and Edward safe. Whether that means anything to you or not. I understand your hesitation but I hope you also understand why I won’t cater to your hesitation when it gets in the way of these plans.”

Of course, he was downplaying how important Edward was to him, but that was purposeful. He has only just met the human, and even if Edward was special, there was no telling if Edward felt the same.

Okay, you’ve talked it out. Can I eat now?

Greed let go rather suddenly and without warning, so it took Ling a few seconds to realize he was in control again. “Oh,” he said, then immediately pulled his plate to him and resumed eating his steak. He let out a happy moan when he saw that it was still warm. After wiping his mouth with his napkin, he said, “I was so worried it was getting cold! I’m sorry about him, by the way! He’s so abrasive.”

Both Ed and Al blinked in surprise at Ling’s moan over his food. Although the younger of the two seemed to relax as he realized that Ling was back. He cocked his head to the side for a moment then smiled and let out a soft huff.

“I like this one more than the other one,” Al admitted to Edward who laughed quietly and shrugged.

“Greed’s not that bad,” Ed offered, only earning a flat look from his brother.

At least he’s not so bad when it’s just me around.

Ed stuffed a piece of chicken in his mouth to keep from saying anything. He wasn’t really thinking of how Greed had put things before he let Ling front. To him it had sounded perfectly normal for someone who had just met him and who maybe had a thing for him. It wasn’t like they were really close yet or anything. Anyway, things were settling down at their tense little table and he didn’t plan on riling anyone up again. He hummed in appreciation of the food, which was nothing like Ling’s moans and groans, before taking a sip of tea to wash it down.

“So! What were you doing in the market when we found you?! One would think you would need to be in bed by now even more than we do,” he said, trying to steer the conversational boat into calmer waters.

Ling finished his filet mignon with sincere appreciation, it was a small piece of meat, one that Greed liked to call wimpy, but it was so full of taste that it was worth every bite. He made a mental note to thank Robert for cooking the wonderful meal.

When Edward started to talk, Ling set aside his plate and leaned in with his chin on his hand and a cute smile on his face. His smile widened toward the end. “Oh, I'm not that bothered by the sun as long as I don’t expose my skin. It hurts my eyes too but my other senses are a lot better now so it evens out. I was just making rounds! I know most of the vendors at the market. I was having a conversation with Bridgett before I heard your voice and had to go find you. And speaking of which, I have a gift for you when you’re finished eating. But no, our sleeping schedule is different than most. It’s more like early afternoon to early night. Though Greed is constantly complaining in the morning, he says I’m too stubborn and that I can’t accept that I’m nocturnal now even after twenty years. I don’t agree. Plenty of humans stay up extremely late in the night! It’s not that strange. Besides, who cares if sleep deprivation makes me spend all my money at the market? It’s why Greed never leaves much in the wallet when we leave the apartment anyway.”

Edward caught Ling’s smile and couldn’t help but return it as he sipped on his tea, the corner of his mouth quirking up into a tiny smirk. The prince really was cute. And rather refreshing after the tense moment with Greed. He hadn’t properly appreciated the lighter attitude that the former prince seemed to have. Boy did he appreciate it now, though.

“I can see your point,” Edward said, shrugging his shoulders. “I’m a little more strict about my sleeping schedule, if I’m honest but I can’t really afford to be tired and out of it when I get up to go to work, you know,” he said, pausing to take a bite of his food. If nothing else Trisha had managed to teach him to swallow before speaking, thank God for that. So it took a moment before he could continue. “This isn’t even really outside how late I usually stay up. Just that usually I’m at least in bed by now.”

Al smiled some and shook his head. In the time he’d been quiet he’d managed to demolish his sandwich. Edward didn’t know how he managed to do it so neatly that he hadn’t called attention to himself but he was picking at his fries and sipping his tea now.

“Ed usually falls asleep with either one of the books he’s filling up with notes or some other old and ancient tome he’s studying,” he said, rolling his eyes. “He’ll probably pass out with those notes Elodie gave us earlier.”

“Oh you’re just as bad,” Ed said with a smirk. “Or you’ll fall asleep in front of that little cauldron of yours trying to make some potion! Remember that time you let one sit too long over the fire and it exploded?” Ed snickered as Al groaned in embarrassment and covered his face. “It dyed the hair on one half of his head this weird avocado green for at least a month!”

Sweet Amestrian Lord above, Edward Elric was a beautiful man. Ling struggled to listen to what he was saying between the talk of sleep and Edward’s face distracting him. He beamed at the thought of Edward falling asleep with notes. “That’s so fucking cute,” he whispered, mostly to himself.

He wanted to watch Edward fall asleep on his notes. Preferably in the bed next to him. Maybe after a steamy night between the sheets. Or day. Whatever time it happens to be. He wanted to fall asleep after that, snuggled up to his warm body.

Alright, reel it in, Romeo. Getting a little too gay for a lunch date.

It took Ling a good thirty seconds to come back to the real world. He blamed the sleep deprivation. “If Elodie found you I’m hoping he asked you whether or not you like Xingese food? I asked him to ask you that because I want to cook for you, and I’m the best at food from my home country. Do you have opinions about spicy food?”

“Hmm I do, I think. At least I like what I’ve tried so far. With flavors I think I lean more toward sweet than spicy,” Edward admitted, eating a piece of pineapple of his plate as if to emphasize that point. “I guess I'm kind of a mild to medium heat kind of person when it comes to spice.”

“I'd you want a show, though, serve him something really hot,” Al said as Ed was working to finish off his chicken. Of course Al was going to mention that he didn't like milk. “And I can see the filth covered wheels in your brain turning. You’ll have to go with something hotter than you.. although he'd probably choke on that too.” Edward absolutely did choke at that moment, which was probably Al’s intention since he cackled next to him. “ Ohh he hates milk. So if you feed him something spicy he will just sit there suffering forever.”

“Alfonse! You are a terrible person,” Ed complained once he got his coughing fit under control. Sighing, he pushed away his plate and pulled his tea closer.

How could Al even say something like that? He glanced at Ling and flushed. He hadn't exactly put a lot of thought into sex with the vampire. They had just met after all. And if he was honest, sex wasn't really all that embarrassing at its core, stripped of the emotional aspect and boiled down to a simple desire for pleasure. It was honestly the thought of such emotional intimacy that had Edward feeling so off kilter. For all that he, to some degree, wore his heart on his sleeve; it was coated in a gold varnish of either foolhardy optimism or bursts of anger. It was an intimidating thing, thinking about allowing anyone aside from Al see past that.

Ling nodded, going through his mental menu of potential sweet dishes to serve Edward. He was so focused that he didn’t even process Al’s dirty joke until Edward started choking, then he finally realized what Al had said and laughter burst out of him in surprise. He had to lean back and cover his face, and despite his best efforts, he snorted like a pig. He tried to calm down, but that only made it worse and he was captured in a fit of silent, suffocating laughter. He wiped the tears filling his eyes.

I told you not to stay out too late you pissant, now you’re delirious!

“No!” Ling insisted weakly, “No, he just—“ He leaned over and buried his face in his arms until he could breathe again. When he finally looked up, he was sure he looked like a mess with his late-onset blush and his bangs in his face, but he smiled tiredly at Alphonse and spoke breathlessly. “You don’t have to worry about that, I’m a bottom, you see. In my experience that’s always meant I’m the one choking.” He leaned back and brushed his bangs back and wiped his eyes again with his napkin, letting out a couple more giggles. “That was a good one though. I like you.” He pointed at Alphonse to emphasize his point.

He finally addressed Edward. “I have many sweet dishes I can prepare, some of them with both sweet and spicy aspects, but I’ll tone down the intensity. For future reference, you can counteract spicy food with a lot of things other than milk. Usually in Xing we drink some sort of fruity drink with extremely spicy meals. My favorite is a mango smoothie. It’s very very sweet. You can also eat sugar directly, or eat candy if you have it.”

Edward groaned as Long started to laugh. All the snorting and snickering was actually cute. Still, the blond buried his face in his hands when Ling started explaining to Al exactly why he wouldn't be choking on anything, he could feel the blush in his face and ears coursing down his neck as well.

“You two are terrible. Can we go back to murder and disturbing childhoods now,” Ed begged, making his brother laugh. He was rather thankful when Ling started talking food instead. Especially when he revealed even more cures for too- spicy foods other than milk. “I'm sure I’ll like whatever you make. You don't even have to, really,” he said bashfully. “The tip about eating something sugary rather than drinking milk was enough to win me over.”

Ling laughed pleasantly and waved his hand. “Of course I have to make you food! Well I don’t have to, but I want to. I fought Greed over it and I won, so I get to make your food first.” Greed had wanted to do everything himself, but Ling had argued it wasn’t fair. He wanted to court Edward too!

“I liked you up until you told him all that, by the way,” Al teased, leaning back in his seat. “Winry and I liked watching him suffer! Now how will we have fun at family meals when we visit home?”

“You knew I didn't have to drink milk and you just let me suffer like that?!” Ed snapped petulantly, kicking at Al’s leg under the table.

“Ow! It started out as a way to try and get you to drink your milk so you wouldn't be stuck under five feet tall for the rest of your life! It turned into a game when it didn't work! Stop kicking me!” Al said, scooting a little further away from his brother and kicking him back.

Ling watched the brothers argue and he snickered when Al mentioned Edward’s height. “Do you really not like your height?” He asked Edward, “I think it’s part of what makes you so charming! And a bit intimidating to be honest, but I like that.”

It wasn’t as if tall people weren’t attractive in Xing, but rather there were many types that were attractive. The short, confident and hardheaded bad boy with a face as pretty as a sunset was certainly one of them. Honestly, Ling was into a lot of different types of men, especially if they were a good top. But the idea of being dominated by someone smaller than himself was particularly alluring. He didn’t know what drugs Amestris beauty standards were on in that department but he wanted none of it.

Ling’s comment made Edward pause in his assault on Al’s legs and look at him, a grin spreading across his face. Of all the words used to describe him, intimidating wasn’t one of them. He kinda liked it.

“Intimidating,” Ed asked, showing all his teeth as he grinned. “Maybe I should just move to Xing. Everyone here likes to pick at me for being so short.” It got really old, really fast being teased about his height or being mistaken for Al.

Ling really liked how Edward looked when he was cocky. Sweet lord, Edward could kill him with that face and Ling would die happy. “I’ll happily take you to Xing,” he said, his voice a bit wavering from how much Edward was affecting him, “I’ll have to fight off women left and right probably, but I’ll do it.”

He wanted to take Edward to see Lan Fan. She was in her early forties by now, but Ling was still good friends with her. He wanted to show Edward his favorite village, and maybe explore the wilderness with him. Ling had never really gotten to admire his homeland’s biome, but now that he had been in Amestris for so long, he missed it. Right now though, he wanted Edward to bend him over the table and make him beg.

While Ed preened, Al leaned in toward ling a little, voice quiet.

“You know if you keep stroking his ego like that he’s going to be absolutely insufferable,” Al said with a smile. As much as he liked to tease Ed he really did appreciate Ling’s efforts with his brother.

Sometimes he worried a little about Ed. He was so peculier in some ways and half the time didn’t seemed to think any further than a week or two into the future. Everyone was always about the next hunt, or the next hunter or witch they could talk to and learn to better their skills, or the next ancient book full of supernatural lore and secrets that he could uncover. Al didn’t know how his brother couldn’t be lonely with the way he’d married himself to his job. Even Al had managed a few fleeting relationships over the past couple years or so. Nothing more serious than the flash-in-the-pan sort of emotions that teenagers tended to have. But Ed didn’t seem to bother at all.

Had Edward known what his brother was thinking he probably wouldn’t have known how to answer him. Or would have been unwilling to. Actually, he’d probably brush it off and say there were too many other important things that needed doing to try and manage a relationship as well. It would’ve been likely that they wouldn’t be able to deal with the high mortality rate of his job anyway. These may not have been the main reasons for why he casually avoided trying to build relationships outside of those who he saw as family, but they were reasons nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Ling was glad that Al spoke directly to him, because the brother’s presence was the only thing that kept Ling from leaning over the table and telling Edward exactly what he wanted the Hunter to do to him. He smiled at Al. “Maybe insufferable to his brother, but not to me. Trust me, I have a lot more ego stroking up my sleeves I intend on administering when we’re alone. I swear, I’ll put Greed to shame. Though he was being pretty sweet the other night.”

Ed chuckled. “And you two were fighting over who got to feed me? That’s… weird but cute.” Ed put his elbow on the table and rested his chin in his hand. He was starting to feel tired but found he didn’t really want to leave. Mostly because he found he was finding that he liked Ling just as much as Greed so far.

If either of them were overly worried about his occupation they were at least in the position to do something about it. They probably wouldn't whine or cry about how they wished he wouldn't go.

When Edward called him cute, an uncontrollable smile took over Ling’s face and he hid his face in his hands shyly. “Cute?! Edward…” He could feel his heart pounding, but he knew it would be a good thirty to forty-five seconds for the blush to show up on his face. He looked down and fiddled with his silverware. “I thought it was unfair that Greed hogged the entire night while you were there. He says I’m a terrible vampire, which...I am, but still. We agreed that next time I could handle the human dinner and he’ll handle the vampire dinner.” He was still bitter that Greed got to get all familiar with Edward’s neck and he didn’t, but maybe that would change too. And it wasn’t like he wasn’t enjoying it either, he just couldn’t control his body.

And that’s a good thing, remember? Making out is fun and games, but feeding is serious business. I don’t trust you.

“Yeah, I know, I’m a shitty vampire, but at least I can enjoy a filet mignon,” Ling muttered.

Edward grinned, pleased with the reaction he’d gotten from Ling. It was adorable, especially once the blush finally showed up. His complaints About Greed made him snicker quietly. Al had a somewhat disbelieving look on his face, as if he couldn't picture Greed being nice.

“Don't be too mad at him,” Ed said, using his straw to stir the ice in his glass, “he did win me over so you could keep me around,” he pointed out, not saying that that Ling might have come on a bit strong if he'd been allowed to take control that night.

It wasn't that he didn't like Ling but he was a little awkward with people and it was easier to let Greed take the lead, somewhat, in their interactions. Between them, Al yawned, much to Ed’s annoyance because for whatever reason he felt the need to follow it up with one of his own. He resisted though.

“If you ever do take him to Xing. And you probably will have to at some point now that you offered, you probably won't have to actually beat off any women. Ed does a pretty good job of avoiding them in the first place,” Al said, blinking a couple times and then making a face like he was trying to bite back another yawn. “Men too, really. Actually the only think he really shows that much interest in is vampires. Maybe that's why I'm not so overly surprised by.. this.” He waved his hand between the other two.

Ling pouted a bit. “Hmm. I know I would have died if I was fronting when we met because I’m absolutely terrible when dealing with Hunters, but I’m still going to be bitter about it. And I can win you over too! I’ll show you, I promise.” He nodded decisively.

A couple of seconds after Al yawned, Ling did too, though he didn’t hold back. He knew it was his bedtime, but he wasn’t about to call an end to lunch yet. “I’m glad I have your permission to court your brother, Alphonse,” he said, “I have been worrying about how to impress you enough to allow it. I know Amestris is more lenient with that kind of thing, but I guess I can’t get the Xingese traditions out of me sometimes.”

He smiled at Edward. “Now that you’re finished eating, I have something for you!” He opened his backpack in the seat next to him and pulled out a single pastry wrapped in wax paper, a sort of fried roll coated in sugar and filled with a thick whipped cream. He handed it to Edward. “These are specially made by Bridgett, the merchant at the pastry stand in the market in front of the glassworks store. They’re absolutely delectable. I always prefer edible gifts to things like flowers. Elodie is starting to catch on, and our holidays are finally getting interesting.”

Both Al and Edward managed to snort at the same time when Ling mentioned that he was worried about impressing him enough to low him to court Ed. It was kinda cute. Cute, but absolutely unnecessary. One of Edward's many traits was that he was stubborn as a mule. Ifhe felt strongly enough about it, he was going to do it.

“Generally speaking there isn't a lot I can do about something once Ed had decided to do it. Winning him over is really your biggest hurdle,” Al offered while Ed reached across the table to accept his gift. “And I’d say you're at least part way there on that front. You should see him with people he doesn't think are cute.”

“Oh shut up, Al,” Ed muttered as he unwrapped the wax paper. He let out an excited little hum when he saw the treat inside and looked up at Ling with a grin. “Ooo I’ve seen her stall! I think I got a pastry from there my first day exploring the market. It wasn't one of these though,” he said eagerly. His inner battle of whether or not to eat it then or later was short lived. The only real issue was that he would have felt odd eating it by himself since there two other people at the table. “Want some,” he asked, wiping the knife he’d used on his chicken clean with a napkin.

Al shook his head and let out a quiet hum.

“No thanks” he said, stifling another yawn behind f his hand And smiling a little when Ed finally cracked and yawned a little himself. “You know I don't eat sweets before bed.”

 

“Suit yourself. Ling?” Ed asked as he he'd his knife over the pastry. If the prince insisted he would just eat it himself but it felt not-quite-right to not offer.

Ling shook his head, pulling another pastry out of his bag. “I’m one step ahead of you, Edward.” He unwrapped it delicately and glanced at Alphonse. “You’re a smart one, though you can also have one if you decide to indulge a little. I have ten more. Bridgett said she made them because I had missed her cream-filled doughnuts so much, and she wanted to try a sweet roll with a twist.” He bit into the roll and his eyes fluttered shut, and he whimpered softly as sweetness filled his mouth.

You’re not going to sleep today, Greed complained.

Ling licked his lips. “Mmm, no, probably not, but there’s a couple reasons why I won’t sleep. Sugar is only one of them. Besides, we digest things really slowly anyways so the sugar is balanced with everything else.”

Edward put down the knife and laughed. Remembering the vague mentions of the Prince's appetite from Greed, he wondered if all ten of those sweet rolls were going to get eaten in one sitting. He couldn't imagine eating that much sugar himself, even if he did have a bit of a sweet tooth.

“Well then I guess I won't feel too bad about not sharing then,” Ed said before taking a bite.

The made an appreciative noise when he took a bite of the pastry. It was nowhere near as loud as Ling's though. His made Ed flush slightly and give the prince a wide eyed look. Who just up and make noises like that in public?

 

Ling wasn’t entirely prepared to watch Edward eat his sweet roll. He tried to keep his eyes away, but inevitably they wandered back to Edward’s mouth while he hate his own pastry. He wanted to kiss him. He wanted to take him to Xing, and kiss him under the stars, with the cool breeze in their hair. He wanted to show off his country, all of the advancements they had made, all of the rich history. He wanted to take Edward to all of the ancient places still standing in Xing and watch his face light up with new knowledge. He wanted to show Edward all of the ways Xing has moved forward in medicine and astronomy. He wanted to just lay in bed and listen to Edward talk about what excited him, explain difficult ideas that he had.

Don’t get ahead of yourself, Greed said, You just met him. We don’t know if he’s going to stick around.

The taste drained out of Ling’s sweet roll as dread filled him. Greed was right. And he wasn’t entirely sure Edward liked him as much as he liked Greed. Ed had even admitted so, though it seemed like he was joking at the time.

What if this was temporary? What if Edward left, and they never saw each other again? Or worse, what if he decided he only liked Greed and Ling had to watch their budding romance from the back of Greed’s mind? Was Ling ready for that?

Hey. Stop. You’re spiraling. You need to go home and sleep.

Ling sighed, and put his napkin on the table. “Greed is right, I need to head home. Thank you both very much for lunch! It was a pleasure to meet you, Alphonse. And Edward, I look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks!”

Grabbing his bamboo hat and his backpack, he rushed off before he could kiss Edward goodbye or started crying or something else equally embarrassing.

Edward just managed to lick a bit of cream from the corner of his mouth and bid Ling farewell before he took off. Really, he was a little confused as to why he ran away so suddenly. Sure they all needed to get to bed but it wasn’t that urgent. He stared at the man’s empty seat for a moment before sitting up straighter. Al followed about a second later before the two of them looked at each other.

“That sneaky little shit,” Ed snapped, slapping the table. He shoved the rest of his sweet roll in his mouth before rushing out of the restaurant himself. It left Al to sigh and pay for the meal himself but surely Ling couldn’t have gotten that far and dressed like that he had to be easy to spot.

Of course once he got out into the street he saw absolutely no one that looked even remotely like his vampire friend. The blond sulked for the few minutes it took for Al to show up behind him. The taller blond shoved his brother forward a little so he’d get out of the way and then started walking back toward the Barracks.

“You’re going to pay me back for his part of the bill,” Al said, leaving no room for argument. Not that he would have argued. “You know what’s sad is that I still like him better than the other one.”

“You’re just mad because Greed wasn’t impressed with your shovel talk,” Ed said, smiling a little and rolling his eyes as he started to fish around in his own wallet to pay his brother back before he got home and forgot.

“I didn’t need him to be impressed! Arrogant asshole! I just needed him to know not to… to trifle with your affections and expect to be able to just hop to another body after,” Al huffed, taking the money Ed offered him into his pocket and then crossing his arms.

“Oh my God you sound like something out of those trashy romance novels,” Ed snorted, only to have Al punch him playfully in the arm.

“Shut up! You’re my big brother! You’re important to me! And you’re just going to have to deal with it,” Al said, his stern tone dissolving into gentle laughter as he spoke.

“Yeah, yeah. You’re important to me too.. I’m glad you like at least one of them. Though I’m not really sure if I agree with which one… Who orders the most expensive thing and then ditches without paying,” Ed said with a pout, making his brother snicker even more.

Ling sat on the floor of his shower, head in his hands and letting the water run over him.

Look, I’m sure he doesn’t hate you that much for ditching without paying—

“Shut up! You know it’s not that!” Ling pressed the base of his palms into his eyes, feeling his throat constrict.

Why are you crying?

Ling knew Greed already knew why, but asking forced him to say it. Getting it out always made the outburst over faster. Still, Ling shook his head. “I don’t know.”

Yes you do. Think about it. What are you feeling right now?

Ling sniffed, trying to hold back the sobs that threatened to burst out, and he hugged his knees. “I’m panicking.”

Bingo!

“I can’t panic, Greed!” Ling said, “I’m the goddamned twelfth son of the late emperor. I don’t panic!”

Ah-ah. You were that person. Things are different now. You never had the option of romance before, right? It was all having fifty wives — or male concubines, whatever you said you were going to have. Anything more than that was always an arranged marriage in your head, yeah? You never had to impress anyone, you never had to worry about how the other person felt.

“And now I’m a monster with two heads in a homophobic country with beauty standards that call me ugly.”

Hey, Amestris isn’t that homophobic anymore. You know they used to hang people for it, right? Now you can tell some random old lady about your boyfriend and she’ll wish you good luck.

“Bridgett isn’t some random old lady. But the only reason I can do that is because I’m a foreigner! They think I’m weird anyway!”

You don’t exactly help with the way you dress during the day.

“Oh fuck off, Mr. skin tight hooded vest and leather pants. You call me a twink, but you dress like a goddamned prostitute.”

Don’t knock prostitutes, man. But back to Edward.

Ling groaned and put his forehead on his knees, his hair falling around his face like a curtain, hiding him from the truth.

Greed was quiet for a moment, then he said, Look. You’re scared, and I get it. We’re standing at the top of a bigass fucking cliff and we’re being pushed off. It always looks scarier when you’re looking down than how it really is, though. I’ve made the jump too many times to count, so I’m ready.

“I’m not ready,” Ling whined.

I know. But it’s too late. You’re already falling for him, so you need to accept that. Whether or not we actually end up in a romantic relationship with him doesn’t matter. He’s in our lives now.

“Is it going to keep hurting like this?”

Yes. Sometimes it’s going to hurt so much you wish you never met him in the first place. And maybe it will end that way, but in my experience, the hurting fades. It makes you appreciate the joy of it all that much more. And when it’s over, you’ll look back on it and be glad that you were lucky enough to be the person that he loved, and the person that loved him.

Ling’s chest hurt. A sharp throbbing settled in his heart and his throat, and he cried. He wasn’t sad, or angry, or regretful, but he cried from uncertainty about what was to come. He wasn’t used to this. Sex, he could handle. It was the emotions that he wasn’t prepared for. But they were there, and Ling had to accept that.

It may have comforted Ling to know Ed had panicked a little himself when he got home. Though his own little session in the whirlpool of anxiety was more subdued. He’d showered, then flopped into bed while Al did the same. He had tried to read the medical notes he’d been given that day but he just couldn’t focus. Eventually he’d rolled onto his stomach, arms wrapped around his pillow and chin digging into it.

He wasn’t used to feeling so off center with people. True, he wasn’t always good with them, too blunt and not always nice enough, but they didn’t usually make him feel so unsure. And why did he? Usually he didn’t have much problem letting his head and heart work in equal measure to make his decisions. Or rather his heart made the decision and his head tried to figure out how to pull it off. Things were a little easier in that department with Greed. Ling was cute, absolutely precious even. The way he’d hidden his face and blushed earlier had made these joyous, warm little bubbles of affection burst all around his heart and it had been delightful but strange. Greed was a little different. It was easier to cut to banter or yelling at him when he started feeling shy or embarrassed. Greed would tease him right back but Ling seemed so sincere. He hadn’t even joined in with Al picking at him about his height. Ed would have been annoyed but not too hurt if he had. He hadn’t though. He’d talked about how silly he thought it was that people found fault with how tall he was. Ling actually liked Ed and hadn’t been that shy about letting it be known.

Edward bit his lip a little and smiled. It was nice, just… scary. After getting his arm and leg ripped off by a couple feral vampires he wasn't much scared of being hurt anymore. Not physically at least. His mother had been killed by a vampire, true, but before that she had seemed happy for the most part. Ed had been just old enough to remember the before and after their father left, though. He could remember the small, but very real differences between how his mother acted when he left. His chest tightened slightly and his eyes burned but he refused to cry. The blond took a few deep breaths and burrowed his face into his pillow, damp hair dragging across his shoulders and neck. Sometimes, when he was small, he’d catch her sitting in his father’s favorite chair, an old wingback that you could sit in and see out the window. She’d watch the sun set and turn her face into the chair and sniff at the fabric. He’d see tears tracking down her cheeks and a sad little smile on her face in the dying light. Every single time it would make his heart pinch and he’d run back to his room, cursing his father the whole way.

Part of him was so scared of that, being so enthralled by someone that even when they hurt you or made you cry, you just wanted them back. He didn’t want to be in the position to be hurt so badly that it would take far longer than his arm and leg had ever taken to heal, if it healed at all.

Chapter Text

It was a little strange getting used to hunting in a group, Al had decided as he walked through the streets. They always fanned out but they weren’t really alone. Everyone was within shouting and sprinting distance. And of course he had Sasha. Ed absolutely refused to take her once he realized they wouldn’t actually be together while hunting. Urban hunting was also a lot different in the fact that some nights it was literally just a stroll through the city. Not a lot of people strayed outside their homes at night and the covens had no need to go stalking about for prey if they had their human cattle. Mostly it was collaring rogues that decided to risk it and go for a hunter. Then you would take them back to one of the labs and try to get some sort of answers from them about the covens, where they might be, if they were planning anything interesting. Usually they wouldn’t say a word.

He didn’t like the silence that seemed to blanket Central once the sun went down. There were no crickets or wild animals foraging about. Just the occasional rat, cat, or stray dog. Even the animals were scarce around here, though he wasn't surprised. Even the lowliest of vampires had to eat something.

Speaking of, one of those vampires was watching the blond, shifting anxiously from one foot to the other as she made sure to stay downwind of the younger Elric. She was skinny, too skinny, looking a lot like a mangy, half-starved dog with her dirty hair and clothes. God, she was hungry. So, so hungry. That being said, even she wasn’t stupid enough to go after a hunter, at least not unless she had something to gain from it.

One of the vampires from a coven, Envy had been their name, had offered her all she could eat if she just went after this one hunter. She’d asked why and been snatched up by the hair and slapped around a little for her trouble. It didn’t matter why in the end. She was hungry and desperate and even from this far away the hunter smelled so good. The only problem had been the dog. If they just kept going a little further it wouldn’t be a problem for too long, she didn’t think. She watched as the animal stiffened and then started off at a quick clip, her owner following closely behind. Ah! Her trap was working, then!

She’d had a coat to go over the ratty dress she was wearing but had left it in an alley up ahead once she’d figured out which way the wind was blowing.

“What is it, Sasha,” Al whispered, following after the dog as she chuffed and huffed, her nose in the air. He drew his gun when they came to the mouth of an alley.

He didn’t know it but it was eerily like when Ed had found Greed. Sasha stopped, pointing into the alley with a raised paw and twitching nose, and Al slipped in. There didn’t seem to be anything to see at first. Just piles of junk, but someone could have been hiding behind some of it. He stepped in further. When he was about at the mid-way point he heard the briefest of yelps coming from the mouth of the alley.

The thrall hit him just as he was spinning around to see what had happened to his dog.

Iris took her chance as soon as the hunter stepped into the alley. Rushing forward she’d snatched the dog up, squeezing it’s sount tightly in her hand to cut off her warning bark. She whined and squirmed as the vampire hauled her off the ground, squished close to her thin chest. The hunter turned, gun raised and she cast her thrall just before he spun to see her. Her thrall wasn’t as strong as Greed’s but it would work for a good surprise.

“There we go,” Iris said, her voice a throaty purr. The dog started to kick and squirm harder as she approached the human and she snarled at it, throwing the dark, whimpering thing and smiling as she bounced off the opened lid of a garbage bin and made it slam shut as she fell inside. “Now that that’s out of the way…” she laughed, approaching Al who was frowning, trying to get out of the thrall. “Sh, sh, sh… Don’t fight it,” she said quietly, stepping closer to the boy. “It’ll only hurt if you fight it.”

Al could feel himself panicking. He couldn’t move.

This wasn’t much like the thrall Ed had described. There was very little fuzzy-headed pleasure. He didn’t feel like he’d been wrapped in the world’s warmest blanket after sneaking a few sips out of Granny Pinako’s special coffee. He felt numb, like his entire body had fallen asleep, all pins and needles all over that only increased when a cold, skinny hand pressed against his cheek.

Greed was chilling on a rooftop, keeping track of the hunting groups making rounds. They tended to split Edward and Alphonse up into different groups, which made Greed’s job unnecessarily difficult. Most, if not all, of the rogues in Central knew that the Elrics belonged to him since their arrival two weeks prior, but there were desperate assholes that went against him. And some that were more scared of covens than they were of him.

He was somewhere between the two groups, keeping an eye on Edward when he heard the dog’s bark from where Alphonse had been. His head whipped in that direction, and immediately raced toward it.

He heard the vampire’s cooing and the dog’s whimpers before he arrived, and he cussed under his breath. Sailing off the roof and landing in the alleyway, he assessed the situation. It was a rogue, one Greed had seen before (though he had seen almost all of the rogues in Central by this point), but he didn’t know her name.

He approached her silently, and just as she put her filthy hand on Al’s cheek, he grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her backwards and drug her a few feet away. “What the fuck do we have here, huh? Did you not get the memo or something?” He asked the vampire as she struggled to get free. He held on tightly. There was a point in time where he wouldn’t have treated any woman so badly, but times were changing.

Iris started to shriek as soon as Greed yanked her back by her hair. It also made her drop her thrall. It wasn't a strong one anyway. It was all about controlling her prey’s body which was far easier than tapping into their minds, making them feel too blissed out to want to run. The blond jerked into action as soon as he could, though his attention seemed to be split between them and the dumpster where she’d thrown his dog.

If I don't die Envy had better keep his end. I distracted him! I did it! Just like they asked!

Getting to feed would have been an added bonus but she wasn't worried about that now. Whimpering she tried to cringe away from the other vampire, while he spoke. Of course she knew who it was holding her and that the Elrics were under his protection but she had hoped he would be paying more attention to the other one.

“I'm sorry,” she squealed pathetically. “I'm just so hungry! You don't know what it's like living off rats and stray dogs or cats!”

“I do fucking know what it’s like, bitch, I survived off of dead animals for two years once like a fucking vulture!”

She was hesitant to admit that Envy had ordered her to do it. Which should she be more frightened of? Well... since Greed was the current threat it would probably be a good idea to try and suck up to him. She could hide from Envy. Maybe even leave Central entirely. There wasn't much there for a rogue vampire like herself.

“It was Envy! Envy told me to do it! They said they would let me eat as much as I wanted!!”

He stopped when the vampire admitted that Envy was behind the attack. “Envy?” He said, confused.

Why would Envy send a lowlife to get Alphonse? They could get him themselves, with a better chance of success.

Ling figured it out a second before he did. Edward! Go find Edward!

Greed looked up at Alphonse, then back down at the vampire. Usually he would have bartered with her and threatened her, but he didn’t have time for that now. He bent down and reached into his leather jacket and pulled out what looked like a pencil without any lead, and he shoved it directly through the heart of the vampire. She screamed and writhed around in pain, but Greed simply wiped the blood off on her clothes and returned the weapon to his jacket before standing back up and looking at Alphonse. “Get back to your group. I think Edward is in trouble, I’ll take care of it.”

Meanwhile, in another part of the city another vampire was putting their own plans into action. They had been following the little red pipsqueak since the hunting parties took to the streets. All Envy was waiting for was the signal from one of his lackies that Iris had upheld her end of the bargen and drawn Greed's attention to the other human. Such a silly, sentimental fool their brother was. Still, there probably wouldn't be much time before Greed came looking for his new pet. Envy didn't hold any hope that the mangy thing he’d sent to harass the other Elric wouldn't squeal on them.

Envy cast their thrall as he hopped down from the roof of the building they had been perched on. The hunter below froze in place, much like his brother had moments ago. Of course Envy could use a thrall much like Greed's. They just didn't care too. They liked how the pain and fear of being fed on flavored the blood. They were also just a bit sadistic, taking a pleasure in simply playing with their prey. Their thrall was still different than Iris’s. Hers froze her prey but Envy’s translated any movement their prey made into a searing pain.

“Well, well! Didn't anyone tell you that you shouldn't wander around alone at night, Little Red?” Envy asked, circling the hunter slowly. “Although it isn't big bad wolves you need to worry about! Just big bad me!”

They stopped to laugh, standing directly in front of the hunter. With a delicate flick of their hand the hood pulled up over the blond’s head fell back. Oh Greed! You did always did have good taste. Even if you do get too attached. Humming softly they ran their fingers along the blond's jaw before letting out a sigh.

“Oh you are pretty! No wonder my brother is so eager to get his mouth on you,” Envy cooed, finding it cute how the hunter’s eyes blazed will rage

“Don't mock me,” the human barked, despite the pan it must have caused to do so. Pigheaded little thing.

“Oh I'm not, darling! You really are beautiful,” Envy continued, putting his hand under the Hunter's jaw and shoving his head back, making him cry out in pain. Oooh that was just music to their ears. “I bet you're delicious too! Maybe if I'm lucky I’ll have time for a bite! But that's not what I'm here for. What are you and my dear brother getting up to?” Envy asked.

Edward shuddered in repulsion as the vampire shuffled in close and pressed their nose to his throat. One minute he had been on patrol, and the next he had been struck with a sudden pain that only abated when he stopped moving. It was like every nerve in his body had been on fire. They hadn't even introduced themselves! Rude!! At least not beyond pointing out that they were Greed's brother and interested in what they were doing. Which probably meant they were in league with the Fuhrer.

“Do you know what Greed's thrall is like? Who wouldn't wanna let him have a bite,” Ed asked through gritted teeth. He could feel that burning sensation creeping from the inside of his mouth to wrap all around his skull when he spoke. Even breathing hurt some.

The vampire paused in their exploration of his neck and leaned back a little. They watched him curiously for a second and then grinned widely.

“Convince me that's all it is,” they said eagerly, tapping Ed on the nose like he was some sort of dog. “Because I'm not so sure you're telling me the whole truth right now!”

Edward would hear later, from Al, about how Greed had helped him and the unholy ruckus that the vampire made when he staked her while Al was pulling Sasha out if the dumpster. For the time being, he was far more concerned with how the vampire he had encountered was sniffing at him. Not like a hungry dog but like a curious cat trying to decide if it wanted to play with the mouse it had found.

“Dunno what you're talking about,” Ed tried again, watching as it did nothing to make the disbelief clouding the vampire’s purple eyes disappear.

Oh but then for a blissful moment they looked away and then jumped back. There was still a rather chipper grin on their face. And the thrall they had over him didn't drop but it lessened significantly, becoming more like Iris’s. Though there was still pain it was more of a dull burn, something Ed could deal with. Not that it seemed he had to. Greed had fallen from the sky like some kind of angel, blocking his brother from Ed’s sight. “Can I ask what the fuck this is about?” Greed said.

“Oh! Greed, what a shame! I was hoping I’d have a little more time to get to know your new pet before you showed up. He is a cute little cow, isn't he,” Envy laughed and bit their lip, cocking their head to the side as they sized Greed up. “Don't be too mad. I was just checking on things, making sure no one rocked the boat.”

Everyone had heard about the Elric brothers. Particularly that one's ambition almost seemed to rival Pride’s. They had all but exterminated the vampire population of Resembool and Ed in particular was known for preaching about self reliance and the ability for people to create change. Before they had started hunting, people in the country knew how to survive vampire attacks, a few weeks good enough to kill them. After, though. They were taught how to really deal with them and such things didn't bode well for city vampires who had some reliance on the fear they struck into the masses.

It was an even bigger problem if they had someone who might actually be able to help make his rambling speeches about change a reality.

“He claims he's just a gets a real kick out tof letting you take a nibble off him every now and then. Not that I can blame you for wanting to.” Envy bared their teeth and licked over their fangs. “I wouldn't mind having a bite too! Would you like to share? Come on! It’ll be just like old times,” they said happily as they clapped their hands under their chin.

The words were meant to piss Greed off. More for fun than because Envy was spoiling for a fight. And because it was easier to get someone to spill something if they were being emotional. Though Greed did live up to his name when it came to keeping his secrets close.

That shit-eating bastard can stick his fangs up his—

Greed blocked out Ling’s long string of cursing and threats, knowing perfectly well that Envy was purposefully fucking with him. He knew what Envy meant about rocking the boat, and he wasn’t about to give anything away. Still, he was pissed off at his sibling for messing with Edward. Besides, it wasn’t like he hadn’t had human lovers in the past. And he was always protective of those who were special to him. So it wouldn’t be too hard to convince Envy that he just wanted Edward for his own enjoyment.

He smiled and put one hand on his hip. “And what makes you think I’m the kind to share my food, hm? I already have to share a body, and now a boyfriend. The human likes him too, you see.” He stepped backward and to the side so he could put an arm around Edward’s hips and reach under his coat. Once he found Edward’s gun, he took it, stepped toward Envy again, clicked the safe off and pointed it at his sibling, still smiling smugly. “And I’m not in the mood to share anymore. You take one step toward him and I’ll put a bullet in you.” He wasn’t sure whether the bullets were wooden or silver. Wooden bullets would only kill through the heart, and silver wouldn’t kill but did considerable damage to any part of the body. Either way, they would slow Envy down, and that was enough.

“You play dirty, Envy,” Greed continued, “sending a lowlife after Al. The bitch threw their dog in a garbage can. I’m pretty sure the dog’s alright,” he added over his shoulder at Edward before turning back to Envy, “Still alive. Can’t say the same for your lackey, though. Tell me —“ He feigned genuine curiosity, “Did you really intend to feed that poor wretch? I didn’t have the heart to tell her you were probably just playing with her.”

Envy’s lips pressed into a thin line when Greed didn’t play along. Their eyes narrowed when he went and wrapped an arm around the hunter. The poor thing whined quietly at the contact and leaned just a bit toward Greed. Likely his nerves were still zinging a bit from Envy’s thrall. They weren’t even surprised by the gun but frowned deeply, taking a step back. It wasn’t clear if the two of them really were simply lovers. Their brother was so fond of his pets.

“Fine, be that way! You’re just no fun anymore, Greed,” Envy sulked, crossing his arms over his chest. “And Iris was just a necessary casualty. You wouldn’t have let me see your little pet if you weren’t busy. So I made sure you were busy! Really you should be thanking me! Isn’t it just going to endear little Edward here toward you since you saved his brother? But I would have fed her if she hadn’t squealed to you about what I was doing!” They shrugged dismissively. “She dug her own grave there.”

Behind Greed the hunter started to move. It seemed that the news about his brother was enough to have him really putting up a fight against the thrall they had on him. He shook a little as he forced himself to move. After all, it didn’t hurt anymore. Envy could change that, though.

“I’m going to fucking kill you,” the hunter ground out through clenched teeth. Oh he was cute, wasn’t he?

“I look forward to seeing you try!” They strengthened their thrall again, making pain ripple through Ed’s body from his toes all the way up to that stupid piece of hair sticking out of his bangs. He let out a cry of pain and Envy took it as an opportunity to slip away. “Ta ta, boys!” they called as they took off. “I’ll be in touch, Greed! Don’t think this is over! We’re going to be keeping an eye on you two!”

The sound of Edward’s cry of pain sent Greed into a rage. He was about to throw a punch, but Envy was already dancing off. Not wanting to leave Edward behind, he simply yelled at his sibling. “You fucking bet it isn’t over! I’m going to rip your bitch ass to shreds!”

When the thrall was lifted Edward trembled, breathing deep as he forced himself to stay on his feet. Dear God. It was almost the same dull throb of pain that he had in his leg and arm after getting his automail reattached but all over. He swallowed hard and moved to lean on the wall of the building they were standing in front of. Rough brick caught his hair as he let his head fall back against it and he panted through the pain.

“Greed. Are Al and Sasha really alright?” he asked, urgently. If anything had happened to his brother he really would single handedly burn through every single vampire coven in central.

“Edward,” Greed turned back to the Hunter and frantically assessed him, running his hands over Edward’s cheeks and hair and shoulders as if to make sure he was still in one piece. “Y-yeah, I told him to get back to his group. If he did then he’s okay. What about you? Oh god, Envy fucked you up. Let me…” He focused a small part of his thrall into Edward, and he could feel the fading remnants of his sibling’s thrall still there. He let his own override it, just enough to take away the pain. He held Edward’s face and looked at him worriedly. “I’m so sorry, Edward,” he said, “I could have stopped Envy’s thrall, or disrupted it or something. I-I wasn’t thinking…”

Envy had been this close to laying their mouth on him and claiming him. If Greed hadn’t gotten there in time… dread pooled in his stomach, and if he were more human he might have thrown up from the anxiety.

Edward let out a noise that rivaled Ling’s shameless noises when he ate, as Greed let his thrall overpower the lingering effects of Envy’s. His hand jumped up to grab hold of Greed’s wrists and he hummed quietly as his body relaxed, the pain ebbing away into warm, fuzzy pleasure.

“I'm fine. Thanks for taking care of Al,” he assured quietly, offering up a little grin as he stroked his left hand up and down the other man’s arm. “Think it helps that I'm kinda used to it? Just in smaller doses. Felt a lot like getting my arm and leg reattached when Winry needs to do some serious work on em. Just all over.”

Greed’s anxiety eased as Edward smiled at him and stroked his arm gently. “Envy is a sadistic monster,” he murmured, “I can’t believe I used to…” He trailed off and shook his head. “I’m gonna kick their ass for this.”

Breathing finally back to normal, Edward cracked open his eyes, taking in Greed's worried face. So he smiled a little bigger for him. Envy was gone. Al and Sasha were probably fine. Honestly, if not for the fact that he couldn't just disappear he would have asked Greed to take him home. His own in the barracks or Greed's, he wouldn't have cared. The encounter had taken a lot out of him and he was tired. Greed's thrall didn't help in that department. It simply enhanced his urge to wrap up in the thick comforter he’d brought from home and let it cradle him in its embrace.

Or even Greed's. He wouldn't start out warm but being trapped in the blankets with Ed would warm him up, the young hunter was sure. The sapiness of the thought made him snort before he nervously bit into his lip. “How risky would it be for you to sneak into the barracks a little later?”

Oh that's just sickening.

Envy was watching from a little ways away. They had scaled up a building downwind, just close enough to hear if they dropped any juicy tidbits for them to bring back to Fuhrer Bradley. All the two men were doing was holding on to each other and fretting over the safety of the pipsqueak and his brother, though. Oh and then Edward was asking for Greed to sneak into the barracks.

That was just too sweet and disgusting for them to listen to anymore. Maybe they were just lovers. Not that that sat right with Envy. Not at all.

They had no clue what had happened to their brother. Greed the Avaricious had once been a terrifying vampire. They had brought villages to their knees together! He was still powerful, sure. Now, though, and for the past thousand years and more, he palled around with fairies, werewolves, humans, and all a matter of other filthy mongrels. What could those pesky, insignificant life forms have that his vampire brethren lacked?

With a haughty sniff, Envy cast the thought from their mind and left to find Bradley.

Greed couldn’t help but smile at the dopey look on Edward’s face. He knew the event had been draining, he knew Envy’s thrall, and yet Edward still smiled and brushed it off. Greed couldn’t help but feel affection and admiration for him. He smiled even wider when Edward asked him about sneaking into the barracks. That would be really nice.

Risky or not, we’re taking it.

Greed ignored Ling. It wasn’t really about getting in. Greed could thrall any guards that happened to be there to think nothing is happening. As long as Edward opened the window for him, he could slip in undetected. His concern was more about being there. If any other Hunters caught him in Edward’s room, it would cause a scene. Greed would probably get out alive, but he didn’t want to put Edward through that. He looked down at where he had dropped Edward’s gun when he ran to him, and picked it up. Tenderly, he pulled Edward’s coat back and set the gun back in its holster. He kept his hands on Edward’s hips, addicted to his warmth.

“It would be pretty risky,” he admitted, “If someone found us cuddled up together in your bed, that would be pretty scandalous, wouldn’t it? For the other hunters at least. It would be safer for you to sneak out.” He bit his lip and smiled wryly. “You could always lock your door and shove me under the bed if someone knocks, though…”

Edward watched tiredly as Greed fetched his gun and then put it back in its holster. Maybe he could get used to letting someone take care of him a little. He hummed softly at Greed's concerns about sneaking in and shrugged, lifting his hand and lightly touching his fingertips to the vampire’s chest.

“The person most likely to find you is Al. It isn't like people come visit me often,” he chuckled and leaned his head back against the wall again, eyes closing. “And I can keep Sasha with me tonight if she's up to it. She's a great watch dog,” he said before looking up at Greed again, brows slightly raised. “Please?”

His voice was quiet when he asked the last time. If Greed really didn't think it was a good idea he would let it go. But once he got in bed he didn't think he would be getting out. Not even to go visit Greed. And, embarrassing as it was, he wanted Greed and Ling with him. He wouldn't beg, though.

Yeah, Greed had it bad.

He was sure that if Edward asked him to chop off his arm and give it to him with that expression and that soft little ‘please,’ he would hand it over in an instant. His eyebrows turned up and he took a deep breath with this revelation, then smiled a little. He’d been here before, he could handle it. It was disarming and it made him vulnerable, but he wouldn’t give it up for anything.

“Okay,” he breathed out. He kept one hand on Edward’s hip and let the other caress his neck. “It’ll make me feel better, too. I’m pretty sure I lost myself a bit when I saw Envy on you like that.” He leaned in and kissed the part he had seen Envy touching, as if trying to untaint the skin. “When do you want me to slip in?” he whispered.

He didn’t have work in the morning, so that was a plus. He could stay as long as Edward wanted.

Edward leaned into Greed's hand as soon as it touched his neck. Later on he might feel a little silly for it but still the time he very much enjoyed the gentle touch. He knew a little touching could do wonders after an experience like the one with Envy. Any time he and Al had a close call they’d hug it out after. It was different with Greed, though. Never had he felt so inclined to kiss his brother for example.

The fluttering warmth that started to build up in his guts at Greed's concerns did nothing to help. When he asked what time to show up, Edward hummed quietly and leaned up to press a soft kiss to the other man’s mouth.

“Thank you,” he said, smiling gently. “Hmm I suppose come by around one? They'll probably cut Al and I loose early when they hear about this.” Thinking about everything he was going to need to do before heading home had him pushing up off the wall and straightening up so that he was on his own two feet instead of leaning against the wall. “I’ll have to submit a report to Mustang or Lieutenant Riza, rather. I think the good Colonel will probably be taking a nap to ‘keep himself sharp’.” Edward rolled his eyes at that. Personally he just thought the man was lazy but it wasn't as though he needed to be awake all night like the hunters. More just that he needed to be on call for these sorts of things. “Anyway… I should be back by one, ten after at the latest.”

Edward’s kiss had Greed’s stomach in a knot and Ling saying, dear Lord in the back of his mind. Something so soft and sincere was Greed’s weakness. As Edward moved off the wall, Greed moved his hand that was on Edward’s hip so that he could wrap his arm around his waist instead, pulling him closer. He smiled when he heard Mustang’s name. “Roy, huh,” he murmured. He wasn’t sure if Roy had made contact with the Elrics about their mission or not, as he had only met with Greed (very briefly in passing, well disguised) a few days earlier to confirm a few things. While Roy knew about Greed’s relationship with the Elrics now, the last time he checked, any relationship between a vampire and a Hunter (even if it were simply allowing the vampire to drink from them) was a taboo among humans, worse even than the same-gender relationship taboo. It was more tolerated among the higher government probably due to Bradley and the fact that many higher ups had things to hide and no room to judge, but Edward’s peers probably wouldn’t think highly of him if they knew. “I don’t mind you telling him about what I did tonight, as long as you’re okay with him knowing you let me take a drink out of you every now and then. Pretty much all of the rogues in Central know to stay away or else they’ll get ripped a new one, so it’s not a secret among the vampires, but I’ll leave the human part of that to your judgement.”

Because he couldn’t help himself, he leaned in for one more gentle kiss before pulling away completely. “I’ll come by a little after one. Leave the window cracked for me, and I can just slip right in. You invited me already so you won’t have to when I get there. It might be Ling, I don’t know. Believe it or not, he’s better at sneaking into places than I am.”

Edward let himself lean against Greed’s side when his arm went around his waist. He didn't much want to leave to go back to his group and explain what happened to Roy. Though the face that Greed apparently knew Roy made it easier. It meant there was less he had to worry about hiding. He wasn't sure if his relationship with Greed was one of those things. If it wouldn't put the vampire in danger he saw no reason not to say something. He knew that there was likely to be some judgement cast upon him for it but he didn't much care. Al was the only one whose opinions really mattered on the subject.

“I’ll probably just tell him. Easier than trying to think of a lie. I don't really care what Mustang thinks about it,” he declared, looking up at Greed and then leaning in part way to meet his kiss. When he broke it and stepped away the blond made a small, disgruntled noise but didn't move to follow. His comment about Ling made him smile some. “I'm actually not that surprised. He used to be a hunter. Us humans have to be awfully sneaky to get the jump on you guys. And he was a prince too! Lot to lose if someone caught him getting into things he shouldn't,” he said playfully.

After taking a deep breath he stepped toward where his hunting party was supposed to be making their rounds. He was going to have to leave now and talk to them or they might eventually meet up with Al’s party. If he wasn't with them they would end up sending out a damn search party. “I have to go.. but I’ll leave the window open.”

Greed had a lame grin on his face, and if asked about it, the only answer he could offer was ‘I have Edward Elric’s affections, who wouldn’t be smiling ear to ear?’ Well, it depended on who asked. It could also be ‘fuck off, bitch.’

He laughed at Edward’s observations about Ling. He was right. Greed obtained quite a few new skills when he merged with Ling, and it increased his respect for humans tenfold. “You’re right about that.”

He slowly released his thrall, though it seemed like the pain had mostly subsided, so there wasn’t much for the thrall to do anyway by that point. When Edward stepped away, Greed’s smile faded until he said he’d leave the window open, and it was back, this time more mischievous. “I look forward to it. Do me a favor and stick with your group tonight, huh? I’ve got an ass to kick, and I wanna shower before I sneak in. Can’t babysit you.” He winked, then turned and climbed the wall up to the nearest roof.

He wasn’t actually sure he’d be able to find Envy, but he was still pissed. It wasn’t worth a fight either, he knew. His siblings were all deranged monsters. But Edward was his, and he wasn’t about to let Envy touch his shit and get away with it. He had a few hours before he was going to meet Edward, anyway.

He first went to the alleyway where he had that run-in with Al. It was empty, and the vampire’s body was already burned. He looked inside of the garbage can that their dog had been thrown into — what was her name, Sasha? — and found no blood stains. She had still been making noise when he left, so the fall hadn’t killed her, hopefully. He was tempted to go find Al and offer up his secondary venom for the dog, but it wasn’t a good idea. He didn’t want to get caught by Al’s group, and he wasn’t one hundred percent sure the venom would work that much anyway if the dog had a broken bone or something. Venom was more geared toward regenerating vein and skin tissues than anything else.

Weren’t you saying you should have killed the dog like two weeks ago?

“Fuck off, she’s family now,” Greed grumbled.

Edward stuck his tongue out at Greed's retreating back for his comment about not being able to babysit him. He did take his advice though. Most of the pain had faded, being replaced with an almost cold sort of feeling. It didn't cause him any trouble as he sought out his team and told the party leader about his encounter with Envy. He didn't so much explain why Greed had helped him as much as he framed it as him getting caught in a fight between siblings. He seemed to buy it and even got a couple sympathetic looks from those who had run into Envy before.

As expected he was sent packing for the night. One of his fellow human hunters even walked him all the way to the government building where he’d be reporting to Mustang. Al was already there, slouched down in a chair in the lobby with Sasha curled up in his lap. Her head lifted, tail wagging vigorously when she saw him. There were white bandages around her hock, standing out starkly against her dark fur.

“You talk with Mustang,” Ed asked as he approached, rubbing his hand over Sasha's head. “How's she?”

“Sprain in her left leg. Should be fine. And no. I didn't know how much we could tell him,” Al offered, gathering the dog up in his arms and standing up. She leaned in to lick at Edward's face until he pushed her away.

“Greed said we could talk freely with him. Probably Lieutenant Hawkeye too. I don't see him keeping secrets from her. He would never get anything done on his secret agenda,” Ed said, rolling his eyes.

When they went back to his office, Riza was the one they ended up talking to. Mustang, as predicted, was napping and could not be bothered. Edward was secretly thankful because when he explained why Greed would care about keeping them safe she barely spared him a glance. Overall, they were back at the barracks right around the time that Ed had told Greed they would make it back. There was just one brief pause where he told Al that Greed was going to be staying with him that night. Al rolled his eyes but offered up Sasha without complaint. Lastly, he told Ed to have fun before letting him brother disappear into his room. Sasha got put on the ground and Ed went to open his window while she sought out her water dish.

Within moments Edward was stripping out of his clothes and heading to the bathroom. He had plans to get in a shower before Greed showed up.

Greed ended up not finding Envy. He searched all around the city before calling it quits. He didn’t want to descend into the covens tonight, not on a time restraint, and seeing Edward was more important than his own grudges. Grudges could wait.

At about midnight, he returned to his apartment, and allowed Ling to front. This would be the closest thing to a date they’d had so far besides the night they met (having lunch with Ed and his brother wasn’t exactly date material since they were under Al’s watchful eyes). When it came to dressing up, Ling was the better of the two, and Greed admitted that he wanted to impress.

He probably wouldn’t admit that to Ed, though.

Chapter Text

Ling enjoyed getting ready, and he had a pep in his step. He sang in the shower and talked to Dipshit (who always joined him in the bathroom for some reason; the cat loved sitting on the other side of the shower curtain and watch the water). He spent a while in front of his closet, and after a few moments Elodie gave up trying to sleep through it and helped him pick out an outfit.

“Are you going to have sex?” Elodie asked him while he buttoned up his black silk coat over the soft sleeveless undershirt he picked.

Ling hummed. “I don’t know,” he said, “Probably not? I mean, the man was attacked by a super powerful vampire and all. He probably just wants to sleep. In my arms,” he added to his reflection with a smile.

Elodie pursed his lips. “You should bring your lube anyway,” he said.

Ling turned around to give the fairy an incredulous look. “Elodie, when do I ever not have my lube with me?”

Elodie smiled. “Oh I forgot, you’re an opportunist.”

Ling pointed at him. “You got that right! I’m always ready for a good dicking down. Now, do I look decent?” He opened his arms and stood straight.

Elodie stood up and circled around him, humming thoughtfully. He stopped in front of Ling and nodded. “You look dapper. Refined, just a touch of sexy.”

Ling nodded seriously. “Thank you. I’m off!”

Elodie yawned and crawled back into bed. “If you do end up having sex you have to tell me how it goes,” he said.

“Of course,” Ling said before closing the door behind him.

He put some books and notes in his backpack to give to Edward, wrote a note for the other two roommates to let them know where he was going to be (with a cute smiley face and a heart), then set off for Edward’s barracks.

It was simple enough to get in. He knew where Edward’s room was after two weeks of stalking—

We do not stalk him, Ling. We’re making sure he doesn’t get—

He knew where Edward’s room was after two weeks of sneakily following him around at night, not to mention that it was the only window that was open. He waited a couple of minutes to make sure there weren’t any guards stationed, then climbed the wall up to the window. After pushing the window open enough to get in, he did a graceful roll into the room and then shut the window.

He saw Sasha and bent down, holding his hand out. “Hello there! You took a fall tonight, didn’t you?” The dog approached him cautiously and sniffed his hand. “Yes, hello. I’m so glad you’re feeling okay!” She turned and trotted over to a door, and Ling heard the shower running on the other side. Edward must be in the shower. In there all alone in his beautiful naked glory with his hair down and everything.

He panicked. “Greed, help,” he whispered.

“God damn useless twink,” Greed muttered as he approached the door and knocked. “Hey,” he called, leaning against the door frame and putting his forehead against the door. He mostly expected Edward to either not hear him or tell him to wait a minute, after which Greed would crawl into Edward’s bed and try to convince Sasha to join him like he usually does with Dipshit.

Greed's assumption that he would go unheard wasn't entirely the case. He heard something knock against the door but since he had his head under the water it was a bit muffled, the voice mostly lost. Point was, he thought it was Sasha.

“Give me a minute, baby. Promise I’ll put you in bed when I get out of the shower,” he called to the dog, not quite aware of his visitor already being in the room. Sasha started to dig at the floor under the door. It made the flimsy thing rattle and Edward sighed. After getting his hair rinsed out he quickly ran a soapy cloth over the places sweat tended to gather and stood under the spray until his skin didn’t feel slick anymore.

Greed’s heart and other internal organs almost bottomed out in his body cavity at the sound of Edward saying ‘baby.’ When he heard the rest of the sentence and realized Edward was talking to the dog and not him, he still had to take a few seconds to recover. What if Edward actually called him that? Would he ever recover? How could he uphold his integrity like that?

It was a quick shower but efficient and the digging at the door only seemed to increase. Sighing, though with a small smile on his face, he grabbed a towel. “I'm coming! Settle down!” Once he had run the towel over his head and mostly dried off, he wrapped it sound his waist and opened the door. “There are you happy now?”

Sasha bolted in, jamming her nose against his knee and then circling him once or twice. He barely noticed because Greed was on the other side of the door, looking ridiculously well dressed for a sleepover. Edward was suddenly hyper aware of the way the cool air from the window made his skin tighten and break out into gooseflesh. And the fact that he was shirtless.

For the first time in a long time he reached up, his flesh arm crossing over his chest so he could lay his hand over the seam where his port met flesh. The scar tissue there had faded some, pearly and smooth under his hand. The further into his body they went, the scars got lighter. But they were still rather pink around the port and he found himself feeling shy in a way that he hadn't in years.

Greed had been so caught off guard by Edward talking to Sasha that he stayed where he was until the door opened and there was Edward, wrapped in nothing but a towel, his damp hair curling lightly around his shoulders. Greed took in the sight of him with his hair down first, admiring how different and rugged he looked. He reminded Greed of ancient times, of stories and art of the gods in the West. Perfect beings against imperfect (yet still handsome and beautifully sculpted) men. He let his gaze travel over the rest of Edward’s body, from his automail to his chest and abdomen, appreciating its shape. “You really are magnificent,” he said barely above a whisper.

“I uh.. feel kinda underdressed,” Edward joked, once he stopped staring like a slack jawed fool. His cheeks tingled as they heated with a blush. “I thought I would have time to get dressed before you got here. Um, make yourself at home?”

Greed looked back up when Edward spoke, then pushed himself away from the wall and started to unbutton his coat. “Ah, you can thank Ling and Elodie for the coat,” he said, “they spent forever picking it out. Said we needed to blend in, and look good while doing it I guess.” He pulled it off and followed it with his pants, leaving himself in just boxers and his undershirt while saying, “As for you, you’re not underdressed at all. In fact I’d say a little overdressed.” He nodded at Edward’s towel and winked, then folded his clothes and placed them on a chair and climbed into Edward’s bed, collapsing on his side with a heavy sigh. He watched the other man appreciatively. “Ling was fronting until he heard you in the shower and panicked. And he had the gall to say he was an opportunist just before he left the apartment, too. I guess joining you in the shower was too big an opportunity for his gay little heart to handle.”

If he had thought it would actually do anything aside from embarrass him, Edward would have whipped Greed across the ass with his damp towel for that suggestive little comment and the wink. It did absolutely nothing to help Ed regain his mental footing.

He followed Greed further into the room, unable to hide his smile when he brought up Ling's silliness. He really didn't get what about him made the prince so flustered. Speaking of being flustered, Ed had paused in front of his dresser, which happened to be across from the foot of his bed. He was trying to figure out where the least awkward way to get his clothes on would be. Eventually he just let out a sigh and dropped the towel, keeping his back to the man on his bed. As if sensing her owner’s awkwardness and wanting to help increase it, Sasha came to nudge his leg with her nose again, pacing between him and the bed.

Greed admired Edward’s body (while Ling made unholy sounds in his head), especially the parts where flesh met metal. He couldn’t wait to draw him. He had drawings and poetry and letters and songs from his past times with his sweethearts, something to keep them alive even after they died. Edward would be the first who had automail. It was beautiful.

He smiled when Sasha poked Edward, and despite knowing that there was absolutely no reason for the dog to come to him, he leaned over the bed and patted it, calling her softly. She looked at him for a moment, then returned to tattle on him to Edward. “Well fuck you then,” he muttered, then said, “You are going to like me one day Sasha Elric I’ll make sure of it.”

“Yep. There's a vampire on the bed. Good girl, Sasha,” Edward said in exasperation, yanking open his top drawer so he could quickly slip into a pair of boxers. That little later of clothing did wonders to settle his nerves. “I'm kinda glad he didn't try because Sasha would have probably come in and tried to get in the shower too. Ya know. So she could warm me 'bout the big bad vampire in my room,” he teased as he pulled on a loose fitting, blue tank top “As for all of Ling and Elodie's hard work… well it looks just about as good on my floor as it did on you.”

He chuckled some at that, feeling much more confident now that he wasn't naked. There were a few pit stops to make before bed. Number one was turning off the bathroom light. Number two was turning on the little lamp by his bed. And number three was stooping down to pick up Sasha and put her at the foot of the bed before crawling in himself. The Barracks weren't the Ritz by any means and the bed was a bit small, especially when you were fitting two people into it. Ed found he didn't mind too much, though. He yanked back his blankets on his side of the bed and slid under them, laying on his side so that he could look at his guest.

“Under the blankets. You're never going to warm up laying on top of them and I'm not going to snuggle up to you if you’re freezing cold,” Ed teased, though he probably wouldn't fall asleep for a while yet. The sun wasn't even coming up yet.

When Edward said his clothes looked good on the floor, Greed laughed, rolling back onto his back.

Oh my god, Ling moaned, He’s so smooth.

Greed laughed harder, and decided to share it with Edward. “Ling just said you’re smooth. I disagree, that was lame.” He smiled to show that he was only joking, and rolled over onto his side again while Edward climbed into bed, complaining. “Okay, okay,” he said pushing the covers down so he could slide between them and pull them back up. “And you better get used to the cold, darling, cause I’m not gonna warm up on my own.” He scooted close to Ed and pressed their bodies together. “Oh, you’re so warm!” He whimpered teasingly. He really was warm though, even moreso than usual from the shower.

Edward let out a laugh as Greed settled into bed. It slowly faded to little chuckles as the vampire pressed close to him. He found he didn't mind the cold all that much. Lifting his hand, he started to play with the fabric of Greed's shirt. It was difficult to get his eyes to move up past his chin. How long had it been since he cuddled with someone?

“Me? Smooth? Ling sure has low standards for a prince,” he said, the corner of his mouth tucked up into a little smile. After a moment's hesitation he slid forward a little more, laying his arm over the vampire’s side and pressing his cheek to the cool, smooth planes of his chest. “As for you, the cold would come in handy during the summer. Especially back home.”

He always hated how hot it would get in summer. The only real upside was being able to go swimming. And the occasional bonfires and parties that were held in town. There were more of those in the fall, though. Nights trapped in the house with the air so thick and heavy with moisture that you almost thought you could drown in it we're horrible, though. During the day they would open up all the windows and doors to try and get a little breeze to cut through the house. Edward always liked it when it rained and he could sit on the back porch and watch the storms. Occasionally the wind would hurl water under the roof and even that was warm when it hit his face but not the same swampy heat that was so oppressive when the sun was out.

“I used to sneak outside sometimes at night when it was too hot in the house. I tried just opening the windows but it scared Al. So I would go stand on our front porch, right outside the door. We didn't really live near anyone with a lot of animals and they were the ones who always got hit by vampires so I wasn't too scared. And I was always telling myself I could get back in before one would catch me. My mama caught me one night,” he spoke with his eyes closed the hand he had resting on Greed's back had started to slowly moving up and down, just his fingertips lightly tracing the dip of the vampire's spine. And his voice had sunk into something a little deeper, hints of the accent he'd grown up with getting more pronounced. “Apparently a vampire had gotten into someone's goats down the way. And you know most people seem surprised that we had phones? Not all of us. But enough that people would get to callin’ each other if someone saw a vampire. You know, raise the alarm. Well my mama gets a call goes to check on me, sees me gone. All the while I'm down stairs. Outside. And I see this vampire draggin this nanny goat out to our backyard. I'm damn glad the thing was already dead because goats are terrifying when they start screaming.”

He shuddered a little at that. He wouldn't hear that until he was older but he still remembered very clearly how the moon had washed everything into shades of black and white. All the dark shiny blood and the sounds of the vampire feeding, sucking, slurping noises and the sounds of bones dully popping inside the goat as the vampire tore into it.

“Anyway she comes and finds me, sitting on the porch and watching this thing eat this goat and she yanked me back in by the back of my shirt. I could tell she wanted to scream but not while the vampire was out there. She squeezed me so hard I thought she was going to smother me. Later on she yelled at me. And I think it was the only time she ever well and truly screamed at me.”

Greed closed his eyes and put a hand on Edward’s hip, rubbing gentle circles there while he listened to him talk. He couldn’t help but smile at the image of little Edward standing slack-jawed on the porch while a wild vampire dug into a goat in front of him. He was sure it was terrifying for his mother at the time, but at the moment he was safe and warm and in Greed’s arms, so he didn’t feel too bad. “Did you still stand out there after that?” He asked. He was sure the answer was yes. He couldn’t imagine Edward actually obeying someone.

He tried to remember his last time in Resembool, or at least somewhere around there. It had been an anxious time, so he was sure his memories were tainted with that, but the entire land had seemed ominous. It was so empty, with big stretches of hills. He remembered standing in a field and feeling the hot wind push against him. He felt as if something were watching him. He probably was being watched, by his mentor or wild vampires or wild animals, but it was something different. He felt as though the earth, or the moon was watching him, wary of him. He understood why so much of their music had dark undertones.

“Hmm yes, but not while my mother was alive. I made her cry that night. I didn't want to do that again so I would sit in front of the screen door instead,” Edward explained, shifting his hips a little. He liked how Greed's hand felt, a little more pressure behind the touch wouldn't have gone amiss. “After she died I went out all the time at night.”

It had driven Pinako to distraction and made Winry cry more times than he could count but he had been too young and angry to care back then. He didn't regret it now either. That was how he had met his teacher after all.

“That's actually how I lost my arm and leg. I somehow got it in my head that I was going to kill the vampire that killed my mom and I went out one night to do it. Just ended up getting attacked and nearly dying. Izumi found me because she was there hunting,” he smiled against Greed's chest and curled the fingers of his automail hand. “She saved my life and later taught me and Al how to hunt. I hated those days where I didn't have my arm and leg,” he said, voice laden with something almost like disgust.

Greed hummed in understanding. He knew a lot about anger, and grief. He knew a lot about doing stupid things simply because you think it’ll make the hurting go away. For some reason, he had never learned how to keep from doing them. He moved his other arm so that he could run his hands through Edward’s hair, becoming lost in his memories.

He was quiet for a moment, then said, “When I lost my arm… Elodie was pregnant. I had been part of a coven at the time, with my mentor and siblings, but it wasn’t going well. I wanted to let Elodie live with me, because, well… I had stolen him from his clan because he was about to be executed for sleeping with me, so I felt responsible and I wanted to at least give him a place to stay, y’know. Anyway, the coven didn’t like it and I… wreaked havoc, because I was an idiot. Daddy said to meet him out in the country, he had something to show me, and again I was an idiot and believed him and went out there, and he tied me to a tree and told a pack of wild vampires to eat me alive. I’m lucky they only got my arm before I escaped.”

He laughed a little and snuggled into Edward, enjoying his warmth and feeling himself warm up too. “I agree that vampires don’t need both arms to survive, we’re a lot stronger than humans. But… it was hard. Junjie was born, and Elodie wanted nothing to do with him so I did it all pretty much. It wasn’t like I hadn’t taken care of a baby before, but this time I had no home, no one to help, and only one arm to do it with.” He paused, then said, “It couldn’t have been anything like what you went through, but there were a lot of times where I just, broke down in the middle of whatever I was trying to do and just cried. Junjie screaming and hungry and dirty, I’m trying to keep him warm and dry when it’s pouring down rain and all I’ve got is a rock overhang to shelter under, Elodie off somewhere dead to the world… I honestly think that was one of the major times in my life where I changed. I got a little more compassionate after that.”

Edward leaned back some so he could look up at Greed while he spoke. He knew he couldn’t keep the frown off his face when told that Elodie just up and left his child. Why though? His father had left him and Al. It just seemed more wrong when it was a mother doing it, but that was probably because he had grown up with a mother who never would have done such a thing. When the vampire finished speaking, he craned his neck back so he could kiss him, dragging his hand from Greed’s back around to rest over his very slowly beating heart.

“To be honest it sounds like it was worse for you,” he said quietly after he broke the kiss. “What happened to me was terrifying and I was a lot younger but it was also over faster.”

What had it been? Two or three years from start to finish? Not nearly so long as it took to raise a child, alone and one-armed. He smoothed his hand over Greed’s chest and then moved to trace a line over his shoulder, mirroring the seam where his shoulder and port met.

“I spent some months in a wheelchair. Those days were fuzzy,” he admitted with a frown. “I remember more of what I was feeling than what was actually happening. I wasn’t even thinking of automail at first. I think granny knew I would want it at some point, though. Because she made sure they got my shoulder and leg ready for the ports. That way they wouldn’t have to cut into me again later if I decided I wanted it. But I didn’t care then. I felt like a failure. I felt ugly, angry, useless. I… I don’t think I wanted to die but I wanted to not exist. I didn’t want to listen to Al sniffling and crying himself to sleep because mama was gone and I had almost died. I didn’t want to have to be sensitive and considerate of Winry’s pain at having lost her parents not too long before we lost our mother.” Ed shook his head and laughed quietly, tilting it forward to press his forehead against Greed’s chest. “I was a pathetic little shit. Then one day Izumi comes marching up to the house and she just goes off..”

She had yanked him up out of his chair and shook him like an unruly pup, telling him not to wallow in self pity. He wasn’t alone. He still had a family. He had his brother, and Winry, and Granny Pinako. He didn’t get to just give up, roll over and die, just because he’d done something stupid. It wouldn’t be right, to reject the efforts of those trying so hard to keep him alive. Edward smiled a little at the memory. She had always been so tough on him, Al too. It was a good thing she had been, though, and she had never been unjustly cruel. She just didn’t sugar coat anything. He would never tell her, because he wasn’t sure how she’d feel about it, but she’d almost become like a second mother to him.

“She basically told me it was fucking rude to not accept the love and support everyone was trying so hard to give me. Few days later I got my ports. Few weeks later I got my leg, another few weeks I got my arm,” he smiled, and moved to lay on his back, holding his arm up so that both he and Greed could get a good look at it. “The first ones were made mostly by Granny. After that it was all Winry. She’s my best friend but I never really let her be there for me emotionally, you know? I always tried to act like nothing was wrong. I’ve gotten better about it since then but she knew automail was a way she could be there for me that I would accept. She’s built most of my arms from scratch. Best mechanic I’ve ever met.” He stopped to laugh and dropped his arm on his stomach, turning his head to look at Greed. “You have no idea how happy she was to hear that you city critters aren’t generally the arm ripping sort. She’s scarier than any vampire I’ve ever hunted when I manage to completely ruin her automail.” He pause then, flushing when he realized he had sort of lost the point and started rambling. “Anyway! What I meant was that you had to live without your arm for so long. I only had to deal with it for a few months and then I just had to heal up and relearn how to do stuff.”

Greed hummed into the kiss, then watched Edward with a soft gaze as he spoke about his past. When he rolled onto his back, Greed leaned in and moved his hand to Edward’s chest, and put his leg over Edward’s, humming in interest. Automail was so fascinating. When Edward started talking about Winry, he gingerly let his fingers trace toward the scar tissue, only barely touching the skin.

It reminded him of Elodie, when Edward talked about his depression. The fairy hadn’t physically left, but he wasn’t there. When Greed had tried to talk to him, he looked through him, as though Greed were just another object. The world meant nothing to him. When Greed had gotten angry and asked him why he wouldn’t just kill himself, he just said it was too much trouble. It wasn’t until the child had grown and yelled at him that Elodie started to see the world around him, and exist again.

He smiled when Edward got flustered, and he moved so he was half on top of him to kiss him, then rested his head on his elbow to look down at him. “Sometimes it takes someone you love kicking your ass for you to wake up. For me and Elodie it was Junjie. He was a vampire-fairy hybrid so he’s not totally one or the other, but his lifespan is a little less than ten times that of a human, I’m guessing. He’s… a hundred and fifty-two now, but he still looks around fifteen or sixteen. Anyway, he would get mad at me when I got in a mood and was moping around, he’d bring me a game or something and threaten me into playing and feeling better. And when he got older, about eighty or so, he finally got tired of Elodie just vegetating and dragged him into the sun by his hair and told him that if he didn’t shape up he wasn’t allowed to live with us anymore. Even threatened to take him back to his clan to let them execute him.” He laughed at the memory. “I couldn’t go out there and stop him because I was still a full vampire then, but I’m glad I didn’t because Elodie really did, it was like he came back to life after that.” He chewed on his bottom lip and ran his fingers through Edward’s hair again. “I’d like you to meet him sometime. Junjie, I mean. I see him about once or twice a year when he visits. He’s a funny kid. Kinda reminds me of you, except a shit ton more sarcasm. About your height too.”

Edward tensed a little, just a tiny bit, when Greed started wrapping around him like a vine. It was nice, though, especially since he was starting to take on some of the heat trapped under their blanket. He had almost jerked when he felt the vampire’s fingers on his shoulder and it did tense, the muscles underneath going hard as a rock. But he slowly relaxed, not asking Greed to stop. It was new, having someone put their hands on him there, but not bad. There was a vain part of himself sometimes that found them ugly but if Greed were repulsed by them he would have left by now. He hadn’t though. He was in bed with him, in bed with him and rolling on top of him to kiss him, even!

And wasn’t that a feeling?

He kissed the vampire back, feeling a little more eager for the next one every time their lips met. His hand came up to cup the side of Greed’s neck and when he pulled back and started to speak, Ed just relaxed into the pillow under his head and moved his hand up some to twist his fingers into a piece of hair behind his ear. Greed wasn’t the only one to notice the similarities between his and Elodie’s stories. Privately he chastised himself for feeling so judgemental toward the fairy before. When his whole life got turned upside down Al hadn’t mattered to him near as much as he should have. It just took longer for someone to reach Elodie.

“You’d really want me to meet your son?” he asked, surprised. Though he supposed it wasn’t that strange. He had thought about what it would be like for Greed to meet Winry and Granny, even Izumi, provided he could find a way to do that without her trying to kill him.

Greed nodded. “Yeah, you’d like Junjie. He might give you a hard time, but that‘s just because he’s a little shit who likes messing with people. He does it to me relentlessly.”

Now it was worth noting that despite the weight in their conversation having Geed on top of him was doing something to Edward. It wasn’t quite arousal. Maybe something close, though. He liked the weight of Greed on top of him, and the way he was looking down at him. Biting his lip, he let his eyes drift to Greed’s hair. He pulled a strand over his shoulder and started to weave it into a loose braid. “I think I’d like it if you got to meet Winry and Pinako and everyone. I know I’ve teased about bringing you home to help with the pain of having my automail reconnected but I really think you might like them. I swear that Granny’s a witch. She’s not particularly nice but.. She’s good, you know? Winry’s nicer to there people than she is to me but it’s probably just because I piss her off. She’ll probably love you if you just show some interest in the automail she makes.” He wondered briefly about the impression Ling would make on them and grinned. “Ling could probably sweet talk Winry and he’d love Granny’s food but she’d find some way to put him to work.” At that he tugged on Greed’s hair a little and arched a brow. “Speaking of, how are you two going to pay me back for that ungodly expensive steak? Where the hell did that meat come from to cost so much?”

Greed watched Edward braid a strand of his hair, and he reached back to pull his hair out of its ponytail, and tossed the band over to the bedside table. He would definitely love to go see Edward’s family, and he planned on doing just that as soon as the opportunity arose. Meeting an automail mechanic in person would be cool, and maybe he could watch her build something.

Then Edward mentioned Ling and his debt and he cackled, while Ling groaned in the back of his head. “The man never pays for his shit,” he said, “He says it’s because he never had to growing up but I’m absolutely convinced it’s because he’s psychologically limited to being the submissive one in a relationship and he just assumes he’s being treated. Also he’s a little short in the attention span department, and easily panics.”

I don’t easily panic!!

Greed rolled his eyes. “He says he doesn’t easily panic. Maybe the majority of the time, but as soon as a handsome man comes into the picture he’s a disaster. It’s happened like ten times since we met you. And don’t worry, I’ll pay you back for the steak. Whether in money or anything else you’d prefer.” He winked and leaned down to nibble playfully at Edward’s neck.

Once Greed pulled his hair over his shoulder and took out the band he started running his hand through his hair. He was comfortable enough to braid with his automail hand but running his fingers through all that thick, dark hair would just end with it all getting tangled in the joints. His comments about Ling made him tilt back his head a little and laugh. He didn’t even get a chance to say something sarcastic about his payment before he felt Greed’s mouth on his neck. Humming lowly he curled his fingers into the hair at the base of the vampire’s skull. A shiver ricocheted down his spine and he shifted a little under the vampire.

“Ling is sweet and I don’t mind treating him some but I’m not exactly rolling in dough,” he hummed, biting his lip a little as his skin tingled under the other man’s lips. “I think between the three of us we can work something out, though.”

He didn’t really mean for it to sound that suggestive but his voice had dipped a little lower, a little huskier and quieter. It was all Greed’s fault really. Not just because he was nibbling on his neck and making him want to squirm, but because this had to be some pavlovian effect from being fed on before. He could feel his own arousal spark low in his belly, a ghost of Greed’s thrall as those tingles radiating from the vampire’s mouth and started to creep all through him.

“I shouldn’t be so turned on by having a vampire at my throat,” he muttered with a smile, unable to help but find a small amount of humor in the situation.

After Greed’s initial nip, he stayed where he was and kissed Edward’s neck, loving how it felt against his lips when Edward spoke, low and sensual. He chuckled and moved so he was completely on top of Edward, coaxing his legs open so he could lay between them. “Well you know what they say,” he murmured, “all good boys go to heaven, and bad boys bring heaven to you.”

He could feel Edward’s temperature rising, and it felt amazing. He took Edward’s earlobe into his mouth and sucked while his right hand traveled down Edward’s side and slipped under his shirt. “Is this okay?” He whispered.

Edward's breath hitched softly as he spread his legs for Greed. He had warmed up a good bit under the covers but still didn't quite match Ed’s temperature. Not that it distracted at all from the pleasant weight of the vampire on top of him. He had never considered it might feel good to have someone on top of him like this. And that voice. Sweet lord he definitely wanted to be a good boy.

He might not see heaven tonight but his head was certainly in the clouds.

“Is that what people say,” he asked, not quite gasping but sucking in a breath when Greed went for his ear. Ears shouldn't be sexy, they were fucking ears, but when the vampire sucked his earlobe into his mouth he could feel it all the way down in the basement of his spine. A steadily growing tingle was taking up residence there and he couldn't help the way his hips rolled just a little and his thighs tightened momentarily around Greed when his hand swept his side. The slightest tickle from the contact just added fuel to the fire. “It's okay, very okay,” he assured.

If anything he wanted more, and he tried to express this by leaning up to capture Greed's mouth in an eager kiss. His automail hand clenched in the man’s shirt and the other settled against his neck, urging him to stay put just a little longer as Ed nibbled at his bottom lip.

Greed breathed in through his nose and tilted his head to deepen the kiss. The feeling of Edward’s hand on his neck made him all but melt, and he made a soft sound in the back of his throat. He pulled away from the kiss and grinned, realizing exactly where they were headed. He kissed Edward’s cheek and said, “Edward Elric, I’m gonna to blow your mind.”

He wasn’t being arrogant. He knew he was unbeatable in bed, and it wasn’t just because of his experience. He could coax an orgasm out of him just with his thrall alone from the other side of the room (something that he boasted about, because few other vampires spent so much time refining their thralls for the sake of pleasure rather than hunting), but he preferred using it as the cherry on top of the sundae, once things progressed more.

For now, he resumed their kiss and started to slowly move his body, pushing his hips down between Edward’s legs and then pulling back a little bit, before repeating. He opened his mouth and flicked his tongue over Edward’s mouth, and his hand squeezed his side.

Greed, I’m going to cry. I think I love him.

Edward had no doubt that Greed was being completely serious. That did not stop him from wanting to be a smartass about it. He just couldn't actually seem to make his words work for him. At least not before his mouth was recaptured. And then Greed's hips started to move so he would have been rendered speechless anyway.

He could still nip playfully at Greed's tongue before sealing their mouths together again and moaning quietly into the kiss. His hips started to move along with the vampire's as well, chasing that building pleasure that came with the friction. His entire body seemed to move with it, like a gentle wave that rolled through his whole body and ended with his hips rocking up to meet Greed's. Considering that he was a very much human man with very warm blood being pumped by a young and healthy heart, there was probably going to be some evidence of how much he was enjoying himself before too long.

“Fuck Greed,” he mumbled after letting his head fall back against the pillows again. “What are you doing to me?” he asked with a fond smile, even in combination with his heated gaze and the low, ragged around the edges quality to his voice.

The bed was becoming something like a sauna, at least to the cold blooded vampire, and his breathing picked up. When Edward tilted his head back, Greed took the opportunity to kiss and suck on his neck, intending to leave a mark.

The sound of Edward cursing his name had him shivering again, and arousal flowed through him. It usually took him longer to get started than it did for humans, but he didn’t mind. He preferred focusing on his lover anyway. “I’m not doing anything to you,” he said, “Not yet. Don’t worry though, I’ll get there.”

Greed pulled away and sat up, spreading his knees under Edward’s thighs and put both of his hands on Edward’s stomach, slowly inching upwards and pulling his shirt with them. He bent down to kiss the soft skin of his tummy, then kissed upwards until he reached a nipple and pressed his tongue against it. While he worked his mouth around it, his hands moved up and down Edward’s sides. “You’re so fucking warm,” he groaned.

“Oh God,” Edward said when Greed went and put his mouth on his stomach. He had to reach back and grab the headboard with his automail hand to keep from burying it in his hair. His other hand, though, cradled the back of the Vampire's head.

Everywhere Greed put his mouth on him felt like it was on fire, which was funny since he didn't have any heat in him at all. His neck was tingling and he could feel goose bumps springing up in the wake of the lukewarm hands sweeping up his sides. The cool mouth moving over his skin had him squirming and for a moment his brain felt absolutely scrambled. Or maybe just trapped in a pit of warm cotton that was swallowing up all his cognitive thoughts.

Then that mouth latched to his nipple and he whimpered, though he would deny it if asked. He curled his legs around the vampire and lightly tugged at his hair. “You're doing something to me alright,” he gasped, dragging his bottom lip through his teeth for a moment. “Might not have anything to do with your thrall but you're definitely doing something.”

Greed hummed appreciatively, loving how responsive Edward was. He loved the feeling of Edward wrapped around him and pulling his hair. He loved the way he sounded, breathless and soft.

“You’re so beautiful,” he breathed into Edward’s skin, forgetting that Edward preferred more masculine words (it was hard to adjust to changing culture sometimes, especially when his mind was otherwise occupied), “I love how you move and show me how good you’re feeling, I love making you like this.” He moved to the other side of Edward’s chest and pressed his lips against Edward’s heartbeat, feeling its fast and frantic beating like a drum. “You’re so warm and beating and alive and strong.” After sucking on his other nipple for a moment, he moved up to whisper in his ear, “I wanna make you cum. Will you let me?” As he said it, his hands moved further south, resting just above the waistline of his boxers. He could feel Edward’s arousal already, but he waited for his approval before going further.

If Edward had the presence of mind he would have denied his beauty. Not so much out of a dislike for the less masculine compliment but more because he wouldn’t have really believed it. Edward Elric was not one to get swallowed up by his insecurities, but he did have them. Considering how he lived he rarely had to confront the ones surrounding his appearance. He was practically married to his job and young to boot. His experience in this area was woefully lacking but it seemed Greed was ready to change that. Both fixing his lack of experience and maybe even sorting out some of those insecurities he so often ignored.

But he wasn’t really thinking about that. He wasn’t thinking about Greed having called him beautiful or very much at all, really. Even if there were things he might feel embarrassed about later, he was deeply lost to the sea of sensation that was rocking through him. He wanted to touch and be touched by every inch of the vampire over him but didn’t even have the slightest idea of where to start. It was almost a wild feeling, like running through a cold night on a full moon. Only it was warm, no, hot, and burning him up from the inside out.

“Yes,” he gasped when Greed asked if he could make him cum. Edward let out a hysterical little laugh and bit down on his lip, pawing at Greed’s back and digging his heel into the man’s ass to try and keep him moving. “I want… I don’t even know what I want,” he admitted, turning his head so that his his mouth connected messily with Greed’s. At first he’d just caught the corner of his mouth and somehow managed to get both some of his own and some of the vampire’s hair caught in his mouth but he didn’t care. He pushed it out of the way and connected their mouths in a proper kiss. Though he found he couldn’t stop nipping at Greed’s lips. “I’ve never actually felt like this before, I don’t think,” he said, unable to stop another small giggle. “I don’t know what I want but I want more of it. Please!”

Greed smiled and laughed, enjoying how worked up and desperate Edward was getting. It was silly and adorable, and Greed was endeared. It made him want to tease him. “You sure you never felt this before? Even with those ah, rolls in the hay?” He chuckled and kissed Edward again, pushing his tongue between Edward’s lips only briefly. “Don’t worry, I’ll just go with the basics. But keep talking, I love hearing you tell me what you want. I’ll give you everything you want, baby.”

“Shut up,” Edward groaned, lightly biting Greed’s tongue in retaliation when it slipped into his mouth. No girl he’d slept with back at home made him feel so out of control of his own self. But then he’d been more worried about making sure the girl was happy rather than himself at the time. Those rolls in the hay had also been the equally awkward fumblings of teenagers trying to figure out their bodies. He was only 19, after all. “You’re awful generous for someone named Greed,” he teased, dragging his heel over the back of Greed’s thigh.

Greed wondered where Ling had put their backpack, and Ling quickly piped up with an answer and Greed reached over the bed. Ling might be an absolute disaster, but he was always prepared for sex. Greed pulled out the small bottle of KY jelly, and scooped a small amount to rub between his fingers. Holding himself up with his other elbow, he used his thumb to pull down Edward’s boxers just enough to free his dick, which he took into his slick hand loosely and moving up and down, not enough to be more than teasing, but enough to get a reaction. He watched Edward’s face studiously, taking in every movement and shape.

Ed felt just a little of the hazy warm confusion lift when the vampire leaned over the bed to grab something. Just not being the center of his attention was enough to let him just come back to himself a little. The blonde sighed softly and ran his fingers through his his hair, pushing it out of his face. And then Greed was back and sliding his hand down into his boxers. Edward bit into his lip as he looked down between them. His hips jumped slightly and he whimpered, watching as Greed’s hand moved over his dick.

“Tighter,” he croaked after a moment, his hand moving up to join the automail one wrapped around the edge of the headboard. “Please just a little tighter?” His hips jumped again, trying to seek out the friction that Greed was denying him.

Greed tightened his hand a little, taking in the sight of Edward hungrily. He loved how his body moved, how he bit his lip and gripped the headboard. He started to move his hips again, the slow undulations in time with his strokes. “I’m gonna do something,” he whispered, “Tell me how it feels, if you want more, less…”

He focused a weak thrall into Edward, one that simply accented the pleasure he was already feeling, but also spread it out over his body rather than simply in his dick. He was tempted to use the thrall to bring Edward to the brink of orgasm and then bring him down before starting up again. He wasn’t sure what Edward liked, or if he even knew what he liked.

The whimper that escaped Edward when Greed tightened his grip turned into a low moan when he started using his thrall. It was weaker than any that the vampire had used on him thus far but it was starting to become a familiar sensation. He turned his face into his bicep and bit at the skin he found there as zings of pleasure raced up his spine to settle at the base of his skull before rebounding back and creeping all the way down to his toes. It was almost like how the sole of his foot would go almost cold when he focused on teasing the head of his dick, just not as intense. He scarcely touched the bubble of thoughts that were coming up with all the fun things that Greed could do to him with that thrall and those hands.

He couldn’t quite hold on to any single thought, though, and when he let the bit of skin between his teeth go and let his head fall back into his pillows he found himself rolling his hips in time with Greed’s strokes. His breath was coming a little harsher and he just didn’t know what to do with himself.

“More,” he said quietly, his mouth almost seeming to have a mind of its own. He felt like he was going inside. “Fucking Christ, you drive me crazy.”

This was what Greed enjoyed the most about sex. It was making his lover lose themselves in pleasure, making them feel so good that they couldn’t take it anymore. He loved the steady movement of their bodies together, a rhythm he couldn’t replicate with any instrument, a rhythm occasionally punctuated by his lover as they got closer and closer to finish.

Greed put his mouth back on Edward’s neck and sucked and licked at the skin. Each strong pulse of blood in his veins sent a shock of pleasure through Greed, and he was already half-hard under his boxers. He gradually increased the tempo and the intensity of his thrall, taking in each sound in Edward’s throat, each jump of his hips, each pulse of blood in his neck. However, he made sure not to let Edward orgasm (previous lovers had called that cheating, but if it wasn’t broken, Greed wasn’t going to fix it). “I dunno if you’ve done this before,” he breathed against Edward’s neck, “But I wanna take you to the edge and bring you back down before I let you cum. It makes it feel so much more intense in the end. Sound okay?”

The moan that fell from Edward’s mouth was louder than intended but he had little control over that at the moment. His flesh hand fell from the headboard and landed on Greed's head. Fingers curled into the dark strands of hair and he let his head fall back to give Greed more room to mark up his neck. With the steady increase of his thrall and the speed of his hand Ed felt like he was going to burst at any second. Not just in orgasm but just in general. He felt as if he was about to crawl out of his skin, the fires of arousal burning so hotly underneath that he could barely think.

Be would never admit it but he whimpered when Greed stopped working his neck so he could speak. It was a little hard to focus too, what with how his breath was ghosting over his neck and the way he was making Edward feel.

“Never done anything like this before,” he admitted breathlessly. He wanted it though. At that moment he wanted anything that Greed wanted to give him. “If I can't deal with it I’ll tell you to stop.”

Greed hummed in acknowledgement and sped up his hand and nipped at Edward’s neck, squeezing Edward’s dick a few times. When he could feel him just at the edge of orgasm, he used his thrall to hold him there for a few seconds, then released his hand. The bed was getting a little too hot for him, so he pushed the covers back and sat up, taking in the sight before him. “You’re so fucking gorgeous,” he breathed.

He started again at his beginning pace. Still sitting up, he rolled his hips into Edward in time with his hand stroking Edward’s dick. “Talk to me, baby, I wanna hear how good I’m making you feel. You wanna cum you gotta earn it.”

Edward made sounds he would never own up to when Greed brought him to the edge. He was panting and little tremors shook through his arm and leg as they clung to the vampire. Then he let go of his dick and for just a second Ed thought he would cry. He took a few shuddering breaths as Greed threw the blankets off of them and sat up, leaving him lying there, a mess, with his legs still spread over his lap. It really shouldn’t have made his dick twitch but he was fairly certain that’s what the little tap he felt on his lower stomach was.

“Earn it,” he said dumbly when Greed touched him again, making him groan and arch his back off the bed. He was still sensitive, though not resting on the edge of orgasm anymore. Maybe if he wasn’t so caught up in the near addicting snare of arousal, he would have felt vulnerable, all spread out for Greed like that but he found he didn’t really care at the time. He just wanted more, more, more of the vampire. “Bet if you wouldn’t finish me off, Ling would,” he mumbled, having at least regained the ability to be a little shit. Or maybe it was just so ingrained in his personality that he just needed to have regained control of his mouth.

Fuck, he knows me so well, Ling moaned.

Aside from that, Edward just wasn’t even sure what to say. How could he actually describe how good he was feeling? Were there words? Now that Greed was too far for him to reach he was running his fingers through is own hair now and he’d managed to pry his automail from the bed frame. “I didn’t know sex could be like this,” he finally said, swallowing hard as he looked up at Greed, golden eyes looking a little hazy. “We haven’t even really had sex yet! Most people would consider this foreplay!”

Greed had a mischievous grin on his face and he tilted his head back, not exactly laughing but taking enjoyment of the moment. He did laugh when Edward said what they were doing would be considered foreplay. “Most people are fucking dumbasses,” he said, not stopping his movements at all, “I can show you the world, darling.”

He started to speed up his movements and he tightened his hand a bit. It was starting to feel really good every time he pressed into Edward, and he did it harder. “You’re so fucking sexy, Ed, can you feel how hard I am? God, look at you, all spread out like this for me, holy shit.”

He gradually sped up, and after a few moments he leaned over Edward again so he could continue thrusting against him at a faster pace, and his mouth was back at Edward’s neck. “And you were right, about Ling. The little cockslut would swallow your cock whole at the blink of an eye.” He was laughing breathlessly now. “You should have heard the things he was saying the night we met. And the things in his mind when you met him. About how he would have sucked you dry in the middle of the market if you so much as asked.”

He felt Edward approaching his orgasm quickly, but his thrall blocked him from doing so. “Tell me what you want,” he whispered.

Oh Ed could feel how hard Greed was alright, and he mutely nodded when the man asked. Sure, he never had sex with a man before, but with the Greed moving against him like that he couldn’t exactly keep the thought out of his mind. And fuck, if Ling loved bottoming so much there had to be something fun about it. Later on he’d probably express his interest in that but as the vampire adjusted his grip and started leading him back toward orgasm he couldn’t be bothered to think about it too hard. He was way more concerned with the filthy things coming out of Greed’s mouth about Ling and the fact that he was getting closer again.

Greed was leaning over him again, and as soon as he was close enough, Edward latched onto him. He didn’t even bother trying to keep his automail clear of the action as he curled both arms around Greed’s back, though only one went up into his hair when he started to nip at his neck again.

The automail was cool against Greed’s back, and he hissed a breath in, loving how it felt. He wanted to take off his shirt, but that would mean moving away and stopping, and he wasn’t about to do that.

“Fuck,” Edward groaned, feeling the little shakes start to creep into his arm and leg again. “You make him sound more like a whore than a prince,” Ed said, turning his head to press his cheek into the side of Greed’s head. Oh Lord he was getting close again. Just a little more. He barely noticed the thrall, or if he did, he didn’t seem to realize that was what was keeping him from cumming. Was trapped on the edge and all he wanted was a little more. Just a little more. However, when Greed actually asked what he wanted his mind went absolutely blank and the only thing that came out of his mouth as he clung to the vampire was, “You! Fuck I don’t know I just want you.”

When Edward made the comment about Ling sounding like a whore, the most obscene sound came from the back of Greed’s head. “Oh Ling’s not a whore,” Greed continued, “That would imply that he charges.” He laughed, and Ling descended into more incomprehensible sounds. It was always fun to tease the prince, and doing it while having sex with Edward was even better. It was like a threesome.

Greed slowed down his hand after Edward answered his question, letting out a low hum. “I’m right here, baby,” he said, “You’re new to being on the bottom so I’ll explain, I want you beg me to let you cum. Make it convincing.”

Edward jerked when Greed’s hand slowed and he let out a desperate cry along with it. He didn’t cry, but he did sound awfully pitiful as he fell back into the pillows, panting and squirming under Greed as he tried to move his hips and get some sort of friction or just something. If there was one sin that Ed fell victim to (besides Greed, obviously) it was Pride because every instinct in him rebelled against begging. It was just an orgasm after all. He could bring himself off if he really wanted it that bad! But then he couldn’t make himself feel like this, though.

He practically glared up at Greed, biting his lip as his molten gaze washed over the vampire. God, he looked so calm and in control and it wasn’t fair! They weren’t even properly undressed! His shirt was tucked up under his arms so that Greed could have access to his chest but in the end both it and his boxers were still on! And Greed was dressed as well and none of it was fair!

If there was any room in his head for it, he would have felt ashamed by how quickly he caved. But Ed only managed to hold that glare for a few moments before he sank down into the bed again and then dropped both his hands on his face and ran them up in to his hair. He was going to have to untangle the strands from his automail but he didn’t care. Greed and Ling could fucking help him with it.

“Please let me cum,” he finally said, his hips moving up and down in tiny little twitches. “Please! You’re making me act all stupid and cock drunk and I don’t even have you in me yet and I just...” He made an inarticulate noise and curled his fingers into his hair, tugging on it. “Please Greed!? Just let me cum.”

Greed felt so powerful, and it went straight to his dick. He took in every part of Edward, how desperate he was, how much he wanted it. It was nothing compared to how good it would feel to give him what he wanted though, and watch him through it. The anticipation just made it that much better.

He almost melted into the bed when Edward finally gave in and begged, every word stacking on top of the previous one and Greed had to bite down on his lip and suppress a loud groan. He hadn’t expected that much, and it almost broke his composure. ‘I don’t even have you in me yet’ echoed in Greed’s mind, and he shivered. “Fuck,” he breathed, “That was good, that was so good.” After increasing his thrall’s intensity, he shifted closer to Edward since his knees had slipped down a little, and continued his fast pace of stroking and all but humping between Edward’s legs. He was getting a little desperate himself, and started to ramble, low and strained. “You’re so good, Ed, you feel so good, you’re fucking mine, I wanna watch you cum. Come on, baby, cum for me now, come on.”

Begging was worth it. He didn't want to admit it but dear God, begging was worth it. Edward reached blindly to curl his hand into Greed's shirt and haul him as close as he could. With the increase of Greed's thrall every noise that came out of his mouth was getting louder and adding to the one-man symphony of pleasure that was sure to earn him some looks the next time he left his rooms at the barracks. Not that he cared overly much or could control it. It almost seemed like they were being pulled out of him with every upstroke of Greed's hand.

If he wasn't already on the edge, Greed's little speech would have put him there. Never in his life had he been so okay with the idea of belonging to another person. And he’d never, ever felt such a heat rocket through him when told he was being good. When his orgasm hit him, he curled forward and bit down on Greed's shoulder, muffling the loud, almost agonized cry as his cum was milked out of him by that oh so skilled hand.

Every sound out of Edward’s mouth was better than any music Greed had ever heard, and it made his body tingle with pleasure. He focused hard on bringing Edward to orgasm, and when it hit, he pressed his hips down hard and felt his own body shake with how good it felt to make Edward like this. He held out his thrall, making the orgasm last twice as long as normal, until he couldn’t anymore and it dropped. “Fuck,” he gasped, letting go of Edward’s dick and wiping his hand on his boxers. He was already damp with Edward’s cum and sweat, but honestly he liked it. He loved how much of an absolute mess he made Edward. “Shit that was amazing,” he said, stretching out his legs and laying between Edward’s and holding himself over him by his elbows. “You sure you never done that before? God damn you’re good at it.”

Edward hummed at Greed's question, still coming down from the intensity of what they’d done. His Thrall had made things so much more… wow. He didn't even want to get up out of his wet spot and shower when he could lay there with Greed on top of him.

“Never,” he finally said quietly, giving Greed a surprisingly soft smile. “Will you do one more thing for me,” he asked in a tired, husky voice. He gazed up at Greed through half lidded eyes for a moment, the only sound in the room being the subtle click of his automail as he moved a little. “Help me get my hand out of my hair?”

He twitched his fingers where they were caught in his hair. There were golden clumps of hair twisted around the joints in his knuckles. A little would probably end up pulled out but most of would probably come untangled. It was a regular problem he had when he was first getting used to the automail. “We keep this up and I’ll have to show you how to take the damn thing off and put it back on after or we’ll both go bald,” he joked.

Greed loved the way Edward looked, tired and satisfied, and he loved that he was the one that made him like that. It was like after he had painted something beautiful, and stood back to admire his own work.

He was surprised at Edward’s question, and couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Oh,” he said, sitting back up on his knees. He was still hard, but that wasn’t much of a concern to him. It was more of Ling’s problem, and he could ignore the whining prince in order to help Edward. He gently inspected Edward’s hand and started to untangle it, his tongue sticking out in concentration. “I don’t want you to take it off though,” he said after a moment, “I like it. Maybe get some silk gloves or something, that won’t catch hair and it won’t change the feel of it.”

Untangling Edward’s hair reminded him of needlework. It took a little while and intense focus, sometimes making a knot worse instead of fixing it, but with enough teasing and gentle pulling, he was able to get most of the hair out undamaged. “There you go,” he said, running his fingers through Edward’s hair and sorting out a few more tangles in it.

“You really like it,” Edward asked while Greed worked on his hair. His other hand drifted out to dip under Greed's shirt and touch his stomach.

He could see that the man was still hard and sucked on his lip. Greed hadn't said anything, though, just flopped down on top of him. Wasn't he supposed to return the favor? When his hand was free, Edward wrapped his arms around Greed's waist and nuzzled his face into his neck.

“You want me to get you off now?” he asked quietly, not wanting to leave the guy hanging. Besides, after resting for a second he planned to get up and rinse off in the shower again. He just couldn't sleep feeling so sticky and damp, no matter how well Greed had worked him over.

Greed bit his lip and smiled a little, liking how it felt with Edward burrowing into him like that. It was rather cute and he knew it, but he wouldn’t admit to being cute if he were at gunpoint. That was Ling’s job.

Speaking of Ling, the prince did a lot better in this area than he did. “I wouldn’t mind,” he said, “but I know a certain someone who would appreciate it a lot more than me. If you’re up for dealing with a desperate and horny twink, that is.”

Oh God, Ling murmured.

Edward bit his lip and hummed. What would that be like? He ran his hand thoughtfully through the vampire's hair for a moment before leaning back and looking up at Greed. He had composed his face into something lazy, but interested.

“Okay. But first sit at the foot of the bed, facing me,” he said, letting the other man go. “the way you make him sound I don't know if he’d listen to me if you let him out with you all over me,” he teased with a sly grin.

He waited for Greed to move and then sat up, himself. Sasha was looking at him from the floor and he felt just a touch guilty but shooed her away with a wave of his hand. For the first time in what felt like forever he felt like he was actually able to think. His entire body felt relaxed and he just couldn't remember the last time he had felt so good. It was almost like being drunk.

Greed laughed. “He’ll do anything you tell him to, I’m pretty sure.” Still, he sat up and scooted back, crossing his legs. “He might panic and act gay and shit, but don’t worry. If you take the lead he’ll calm down, he’s a really good sub in my experience. And don’t be afraid to shove anything in his mouth if he gets too loud. He’s vocal, and that’s actually one of his many kinks. Honestly you can’t throw a stone without hitting something he’s into.” Greed snickered and leaned in a bit. “He’s really into the vampire Hunter thing, just so you know.”

Oh my god Greed—

Ling couldn’t believe it. He had been thoroughly enjoying the evening, not having to do anything but sitting back and watching Edward, and now he was shoved up front and expected to be presentable and all he wanted to do was lay on his back and spread his legs.

That’s fine too, y’know, I did tell him you’re a cockslut.

“Oh my God,” he whimpered, his body shaking at the sight of Edward lounging in front of him with that sly look on his face, “you’re so hot, I don’t know what to do, I…” He swallowed hard.

Edward had a plan forming, thanks to Greed's little tips. It was mostly based on playing things by ear but if things went the way he hoped they wouldn't be doing anything too crazy. As Ling was thrust forward he leaned back on his hands and tilted his head, to watch the prince. His demeanor was so different from Greed's. Ed couldn't help but chuckle quietly at Ling's babbling. It was kind of cute.

“First, just calm down. Second, take your shirt off,” he said, biting his lip for a moment. “I want to get to know you a little bit. I’ve only met you once before. And that was with my brother there. According to Greed there was a lot going on in your head that you didn't say.”

As he spoke, Edward straightened up and reached over to the little table by his bed to grab a hair tie, and maybe the silver ring that he took off before his shower found its way back onto his finger. But the whole time he was watching Ling. He pulled his hair up into a messy ponytail before scooting forward until his and the Prince’s knees touched.

“Is all that stuff Greed has been saying about you true? Or is he just messing with me,” he asked, biting his lip as he reached out to smooth his hand over the left side of Ling’s chest. It was hard to imagine the prince as a hunter with how he was acting but his body told a whole different story. Part of him wanted to take him hunting in Resembool. He could only imagine what he would look like hunting one of those beasts.

Ling immediately shut his mouth and stripped his shirt off when he was told. Greed was right; as soon as Edward took control, he calmed down. He watched Edward bite his lip hungrily, and followed every movement he made as he put his hair back up and put his ring back on. He swallowed again and curled his hands into fists, remembering the light sting that ring had made on his skin. Edward’s words pulled a small whimper out of him; he was embarrassed that Greed had tattled on him, but he was also kind of into it.

He straightened up when Edward scooted forward and reached for him, and he gasped and leaned forward when Edward touched him. The ring burned a little, and it sent shivers through his body. “It’s true,” he said, his voice small and high pitched from the pain.

Edward watched Ling's reaction curiously. He didn't leave the ring in one place too long. There was a sweeping pink line that started in the middle of the prince's chest and arched toward the outside of his body. He started another one by reaching up to cup Ling's jaw for a moment at first he kept the ring off his skin as he stroked his thumb over the young man's cheek.

“You're a goddamn mess,” he said with a smile before letting silver touch the former hunter’s skin again. His hand stroked down the side of Ling's neck and kept going along the center of his chest and down, down, down he stopped just above the waist of his boxers and then curled his fingers into the top of them. Very careful of his ring, he tugged the elastic band at the top of his boxers down and then tucked it under the vampire’s balls. If left him entirely on display for Edward to enjoy. Having that amount of power was kinda of a rush. “I want you to touch yourself.”

He words were out of his mouth before he fully had time to think about it and he had to suck in a deep, steadying breath. Part of Edward was dimly aware that between Ling and Greed they could probably spend the entire damn day in bed. He pulled his bottom lip between his teeth as he watched the prince, not offering to help but just enjoying the show. “God, look at you. You're such a submissive little bitch but I bet you were a force to be reckoned with when you were hunting. Probably still are, but with the added benefit of being a vampire now.” Catching Ling's eyes, he blinked slowly. He was trying to act like he wasn't nearly as interested in what was happening in front of him as he was. “Tell me about every nasty little thought about me hat has run through that slutty head of yours.”

Ling’s body shook, and he almost leaned back before remembering he was at the end of the bed and would topple off if he continued. He whined at the inconvenience. The line of pain going down his chest was so good, but he had to keep focusing on staying upright and it was too much for his limited attention span to handle.

He whined again, and considered complaining when Edward told him to touch himself. He wanted Edward to touch him!! Still, he obeyed, and chewed on his bottom lip while he stroked his own dick. It wasn’t nearly enough. He listened to Edward talk in that calm and fucking sexy voice, and he choked back a sob. He needed more.

You’re such a fucking cockslut Ling I swear to God, Greed said, can’t even jack off like a normal fucking person.

Then Edward told him to spill all his dirty secrets, and he gasped, feeling himself start to panic again. If he went over all his fantasies he’d never cum like this.

Dammit, go to the head of the bed, get your lube and get on your back. Now. Don’t keep him waiting.

“Okay,” Ling whispered and did as he was told, crawling around Edward and grabbing the jelly from the bedside table before flopping down on his back and shoving his boxers all the way off.

Tell him why you’re doing this too. Let him know how fucking pathetic you are.

Ling whimpered and glanced at Edward, then down at his jelly while he coated his fingers with it. “Greed told me to tell you that I’m a pathetic cockslut and I can’t cum without something in my ass,” he said quietly, then spread his legs and put two fingers inside of himself. He groaned, throwing his head back into the pillow. “This is so barbaric,” he whined, “Having to use my own fingers like some kind of virgin…” He had already forgotten about Edward’s previous command.

Edward made a surprised noise but just watched as Ling crawled around him and settled where he had been only a little while before. Ling's explanation made him chuckle and he moved to sit in front of the Prince, brow arching at his complaints.

“Well it could be worse you know,” he said, scooting closer so that he could slide his knees under Ling's. His hands came down just above the other man’s knees and he rubbed circles I to the soft skin of his inner thighs. “I’m new to this. I could have just cuddled up to Greed and gone to sleep. Or have you tell me all your naughty little fantasies without you being able to touch yourself at all.”

He couldn't manage to draw his eyes away from between Ling's legs the whole time he was talking. This was a little more than he was bargaining for but it was a great show. Despite the edging and the fact that he had just cum his cock gave an interested twitch but he ignored it.

Ling pulled his hair over one shoulder so it wouldn’t get yanked from all his writhing on the bed. He was starting to calm down now that he was on his back (to Greed’s amusement), and he hummed in satisfaction at the feeling of Edward’s hands on him, from the warm skin and stinging burn of his flesh hand, and the cool metal of his automail hand. He arched his back a bit, closing his eyes and getting comfortable despite his previous complaints. “Greed would have let you, too,” he said, “He’s terrible to me sometimes, you know that?”

Oh shut up, I’m a blessing.

Ling took a moment to spread his fingers and rubbed against his prostate, humming low and soft, before doing what Edward asked. He had had many fantasies about Edward. He smiled and opened his eyes to look up at Edward, ready to tell him something. He was distracted by the sight of him between his legs, his hair falling around his shoulders and his automail gleaming in the dim light, and said, “You look so… beautiful.” He quickly remembered what he had gone to say and smiled again. “Yesterday morning Greed got mad at me. I was showering and I got distracted thinking about you and...well…” He turned his head to the side and dragged his bottom lip through his teeth, trying to suppress a not-so-guilty smile. “I made him late to work.”

“Hmm well aren't you a naughty thing,” Edward said, taking slow, deep breaths as he watched the vampire's fingers disappearing inside himself. “Not just because you made Greed late for work but because you're still not really doing what I told you.” He finally dragged his eyes up to meet Ling's, hands stroking up and down his thighs. “I want to know what you were fantasizing about, not just the consequences of the fact that you can't keep your fingers out of your ass for five minutes.”

It felt mean saying it, but it was also kind of fun, thrilling. And Ling seemed to respond alright when Greed did it. Licking his lips, he cocked his head to the side and took off his ring. He gave Ling’s cock an experimental stroke either his flesh hand while still the same time dragging his right hand over the sensitive flesh of Ling's lower stomach. It left a hot, pink welt behind in its wake. And then just like that, Edward stopped touching him again.

“You really should be happy Greed is here to help me make this good for you, ya know. Now that's strike one. Two more and you don't get to cum.”

“I was going to get there!” Ling insisted, trying to look offended but messing it up with a laugh. His smile disappeared when Edward touched his dick though, and he arched his back with a moan. That felt so good…

Then Edward took away his hand and threatened him, and he gasped and looked up at him, scandalized. “You wouldn’t!”

Greed, on the other hand, was laughing his ass off. Oh he fucking will. The man learns fast.

“You two are monsters,” Ling whined, his heart rate increasing at the idea of not being able to cum. He closed his eyes again and shifted around again. “Give me a second, let me focus.” He went back over that morning, what he had been thinking about. His fingers resumed their rubbing and he smiled softly. When he spoke, his voice was quiet and gentle. “It started because I was thinking about you getting in the shower with me, and you came up behind me and kissed my shoulder and hugged me. And then… then I turned around and kissed you and started massaging your shoulders and asked how your day was—“

Cut the gay shit, Ling.

“But that’s how it went!” Ling complained, “And I am gay, I’m not cutting the gay shit so deal with it! Anyway, I asked how your day was and you told me about all these cool things you’d been studying. And I listened and washed your hair and then you kissed me again and put your hands on me, and that’s when Greed started getting mad and saying we didn’t have time for this. But I kept going, and I imagined you lifting one of my legs up over your hip and you got some lube because I always have lube in my shower, and you started fingering me, and you were talking to me so sweet. You told me how beautiful and handsome and cute I am, and how I deserved the best treatment. I was fingering myself then. But then the fantasy changed because I hate using my fingers and I got my dildo and I thought about you capturing me and interrogating me and somehow — I don’t know how — you ended up fucking me doggy-style, and then I orgasmed and it was over.”

Edward wasn't sure what he had been expecting but that wasn't it. It had started out so cute. It had eventually spiralled into something more like what Ed had thought the prince might say. He smiled as Ling finished speaking and then hauled himself forward so that he was hovering over the vampire.

“That was sweet,” he said, using his fingers to tip Ling's chin upward before capturing his mouth in a kiss. It was short but not entirely sweet. As he pulled away he tugged on Ling's bottom lip with his teeth. “And surprisingly accurate. I probably will be nicer than Greed most of the time. Unless you piss me off.”

He said the last part with a teasingly malicious grin and sat back once more. “So far, though, you're being good.” As a reward he took the prince’s dick back in hand and started to slowly stroke him. At least he had a decently firm grip. “ I don't think anyone has ever wanted me to fuck them as much as you do. It's pretty flattering, really.”

Ling kissed back enthusiastically, and was disappointed when Edward pulled away. He pouted until Edward started touching him again, and he let out a long and low moan. He closed his eyes and bent one knee more so he could lift himself up a bit and get a better aim at his prostate, and he added a third finger. “Oh I’m not the only one,” he said with a laugh, “I know for a fact that you’re a hot take with the younger gay men. You’ve only been here two weeks and I’ve overheard a few talking about you. Hunters are a big deal in Central, you know. You’re like a celebrity.” He knew he was rambling, but he embraced it. He’d been wanting to tell Edward these things since he met him. “And that automail makes you look so badass and sexy, like you could rip me in half if you wanted. And I’ve always been into guys that are shorter than me, but the majority of them I’ve met are also bottoms. There’s just something about being wrecked by a smaller man that gets me going.” He was panting now, but he kept talking, his voice occasionally strained, “And I love how you’re an intellectual, too. I like thinking about showing you cool stuff in Xing and listening to you talk about whatever you’re studying. I don’t know how, but it’s sexy. I think it’s just because you’re sexy.”

The fact that he was apparently popular among the younger guys in central was a surprise to Ed. It still served to stroke his ego, though it didn’t change the fact that he’d probably be oblivious to anyone else trying to get his attention. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. He imagined that Ling got a kick out of it too. After all, out of anyone he heard talking, Ling was the only one who might know if any of the rumors were true.

“Well I guess it’s a good thing I like you in one piece,” Edward said, responding to what the prince had said about his automail, he moved to hover over Ling again, this time settling in to stay there for a while. His automail hand sank into the pillows by Ling’s head and his other hand kept it’s pace on his dick as he leaned down to press a quick kiss to ling’s mouth. He probably didn’t linger enough for the Prince’s liking but he had more to say. “Does anyone else know they don’t stand a chance with me? After all I’ve got you and Greed to deal with. I don’t think I could handle any more even if I wanted to.”

He cocked his head to the side and slowed his hand on the vampire’s dick, shifting his weight a little and making his automail click quietly. Leaning down again, he laid a kiss against the other man’s jaw before tugging playfully at his earlobe with his teeth. “How does it feel when you’re listening to all those other guys gossip about fucking the new state alchemist and knowing you’re the only one who will probably get to? Bet it makes you feel pretty special, hmm?”

Ling couldn’t stop giggling. “They don’t deserve you!” he said, using his unoccupied hand to slide up the back of Edward’s neck and pull him in.

His hips started bucking up, seeking more friction with Edward’s hand as he got closer. He could never really get enough with his fingers, they didn’t fill him up like a cock or a dildo would, and he really wished he had brought his dildo with him. “God, I wanna be filled up, Edward, I want you to fuck me…”

Edward groaned deeply and moved to give Ling a sharp, biting kiss. How was he supposed to say no to that? Well that was the point, wasn't it? He wasn't supposed to say no. Too bad for Ling he was going to.

He pulled back, breathing harshly as he broke the kiss. Pressing his forehead against Ling's, he tightened the grip he had on his dick and brought his hand up to something that was a less teasing speed. “Not this time,” he finally said, chuckling quietly as he pressed a kiss to the bridge of Ling's nose. “Consider it pay back for leaving me with that bill the other day.”

Ling let out a whine that he knew was dramatic, but he wasn’t about to care. With one leg wrapping around Edward’s waist, he fucked himself harder on his fingers. It was sloppy, because he couldn’t exactly reach his own prostate that easily at that pace, and a series of strained moans left him.

Frustrated, he stopped his hand for a moment and pulled Edward in for a deep kiss. Edward kept working his dick, and Ling could feel himself getting close. He pressed down on his prostate hard and his body tensed up as though he had been shocked, and a hysterical sound left him. “Edward!” he cried, “Edward, I’m, oh!” His orgasm hit him suddenly, and he curled into Edward and moaned into his neck.

Proud of you, Greed said when his body had finished shaking and he relaxed into the bed, panting. You did it mostly by yourself.

“Thanks,” Ling breathed, both to Greed and to Edward.

Edward almost flinched at Ling’s volume when he came but he made no move to quiet him. Al was going to give him the most judgemental fucking glare in the morning. Not that he cared at the moment. While Ling buried his face in his neck, he lifted a hand to cradle the back of his head. He made some quiet shushing noises as the young man relaxed and then smiled down at him. After the thank you, he leaned in and pecked him softly on the lips.

“You’re welcome, I guess. Sorry if I’m not as good at that as Greed,” he offered sheepishly, pulling off his own shirt so he could mop cum off his hand and Ling’s stomach and chest. “None of the sex I’ve had before now has been ya know… kinky,” he said, shrugging his shoulders and tossing his soiled shirt to the ground.

The hunter felt just a little awkward as he put his ring back on the table by the bed and then laid down next to Ling. He was a little hesitant as he laid his arm, the automail one, over Ling’s waist and propped his head up in his other hand so he could look down at him. “Let me know when you’re ready and we can take a shower real quick,” he offered, nudging his head into the side of Ling’s. “I think after all that I can deal with you seeing me naked.”

Ling was beaming tiredly while Edward fussed over him. “You’re perfect,” he said softly, “You didn’t really even have to do as much as you did. You’re so sweet. You wouldn’t believe how many guys I’ve slept with that just fuck me and then leave.”

When Edward lay next to him, he turned to cuddle into him rather than get up. He was so comfortable, Edward was so warm, and he was already drifting into a doze.

Hey, punk, you’re disgusting. Go shower.

Ling whined, “I’m not a punk.” Still, the moment was ruined, and he sighed and sat up. “We can go shower. Do you have clean sheets for the bed?”

To be honest Edward was lazy as hell sometimes and had planned on just throwing the comforter back over the bed and sleeping on top of it. He didn't say that, though. Rather, he hummed out an affirmative noise and then rolled off the bed. Aside from the dresser across from his bed there was also a small closet on the other side of the room. There wasn't much in it. Just a few coats and then messy stacks of sheets on the shelf near the top of the closet.

“Even if we weren't at my place I probably wouldn't just leave,” Ed said, laying the fresh sheets on the dresser and waiting for Ling to get up so he could strip the bed. “If not because I like you, then because I’d be too tired to want to walk all the way back home,” he teased.

Ling stood up and helped take the sheets off the bed and change them. He was never shy about his body; being a prince, he had spent a lot of time exposed in front of servants and others. Children of the emperor weren’t exactly allowed privacy. He chuckled a little, and talked while he helped. “I guess you’re not really familiar with the life of gay men here. It’s not exactly acceptable to prefer men, so usually they just stick with a few discreet locations. It changes over the years, but it tends to happen after dark, even though it’s dangerous. For example, if I wanted to get laid, I’d hang around this shady bar called The Black Horse, sometime after eleven. Men tend to approach me because I make it obvious I’m gay. A man might approach me and ask me if I’m a friend of Dorothy as a way to ask if I’m gay and interested in sex. There’s a few ways I could respond, but I always say ‘she’s my florist’ to let him know I’m a bottom, and then we go somewhere like the bathroom, he fucks me, and I’m responsible for whether or not I actually cum. Afterward he leaves, we don’t really say anything. For stuff like that, it’s not good to actually get to know the person because most of these men are married and have jobs that they could lose if anyone knows. The sad thing is that a lot of the slaves vampires keep are gay men who were out trying to meet other gay men after dark. Not many other people risk being out alone.”

Ling put new pillow cases on the pillows and asked, “I wonder how it’s like out in the country for gay people. Is it even a thing? Do you know? They’re like… really religious, aren’t they?” He hadn’t ever been there, and all he had was Greed’s memories and stories he’d heard from Central City residents.

Edward's nose wrinkled as he listened to Ling speak. He had been aware of the prejudice but not of how bad it actually was. The whole thing just sounded so convoluted and stupid! What did it matter who people slept with? Back home things were rather different, not as dangerous, for sure.

“It depends partially on where you go,” he replied, tossing pillows on the bed. “In Resembool there is some prejudice but it's not nearly as bad, doesn't sound like. Like no one outright said that the two ladies down the road that a lot of us got eggs from had been lovers for the past decade but we all knew they hadn't been living together forever just because they were “best friends”. He snorted at that, mouth tugging into a small smile. Edith and Connie we're lovely old birds who could make some of the best sangria that Ed had ever tasted. “I never really dated much back home and it was easier to just sleep with girls if I really felt like it, but the worst thing ever happened to me for doing something like say… kissing Tommy Greenwich at a bonfire… Was getting punched in the nose.”

Now there may have been more to it that Edward just hadn't felt the need to utilize. But from his perspective any same-sex couples back home were just rather discreet. Rumors would fly on occasion and there would be a few stores who wouldn't sell their wares certain people. But no one was dying over it.

“Things different in places like Lior. You're more likely to get disowned or lynched over there than you see where I'm from,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. Simply put, back home he could afford to not care what people thought of him. “What was Xing like when it came to stuff like that?”

Ling was interested to learn that Resembool was rather tolerant. “It seems similar in Resembool to how it is here, actually. Maybe a bit worse here. People rarely get killed, and severe beatings have gone down in the past ten years or so, mostly because of the lesbian gangs. But people will lose their jobs, and wives, and get shunned. But like, half of the vendors at the market know I’m gay and they’re okay with it. In fact I told Bridgett that I was going to ask a guy to be my boyfriend and she told me to give him a sweet roll, so… I think that’s mostly because I’m a foreigner and it makes people look down on me anyway, so adding that isn’t too big of a deal. And I buy their food a lot.”

When the bed was made, Ling walked toward the bathroom and went inside. It was small, but nice. He considered Edward’s question for a minute before answering. “Xing is worlds better, honestly. There’s still some general distaste for people who prefer the same gender, but it varies from person to person. It’s considered… tacky, maybe. I have a different perspective than most though because I was a prince when I lived there. So when I told people, I had to quickly add that I planned on having biological children as well. That’s all people cared about, really. But I remember once at a dinner, there was an advisor there that was gay, and everyone joked about it, including him. It was as though he just preferred wearing a really weird outfit all the time.”

Edward followed Ling and listened, only hesitating for a moment before shoving his own boxers down his hips and stepping out of them. After everything, he was feeling a bit less shy. So much so that he scooted past Ling and bent over some to turn on the shower.

“You know when I was a kid I would go through all the books my dad had left behind. He had books about all sorts of things, including Xing,” he said with a small smile. He used to hate it when his mother compared him to his father, with their thirst for knowledge. He didn't want to be anything like the man who had walked out on them but it was a trait that he couldn't ignore. “I used to look at them in awe of the mountains that made Resembool look like molehills. And all the animals there that we don't have here, I wanted to explore all of it. I wanted to cross the desert and find the lost city of Xerxes and then explore all of Xing and beyond.”

He ran his hand under the spray of water from the showerhead and thought of the depictions of waterfalls he had seen in some of those books. How dreams change. It wasn't so much that he didn't want to travel but that adult responsibility held him back. “You want your shower hot or cold?”

Ling leaned against the wall and admired Edward. He was so goddamn beautiful. How did Ling score this well?

Thanks to me.

Ling smiled. He really was grateful. He smiled even more when Edward talked about wanting to visit Xing. He loved how passionate Edward was, how much he loved to learn. It reminded him of his gift he had brought. He’d give it to him after their shower. Or perhaps he would just leave it before he went home.

“You can put it to warm for you. It’s going to feel pretty hot to me, but it won’t burn or anything. I like hot showers, anyway.” He went back into the bedroom to get the hair tie Greed had thrown on the bedside table and returned, bending over to flip his hair over and pull it into a high messy bun. “Amestris has its beauty and charm, but I really have never seen a place more beautiful than Xing. I miss it, terribly. Well, I’ve seen some beautiful places in Greed’s memories, but it isn’t quite like the real thing. And Xing is home to me, so it draws me.” He tested the water and stepped into the shower, humming softly at the heat. “Did you read any about Xing’s ancient history? A lot of architecture is still standing. What about ancient Xingese magic?”

Edward left the shower running a little on the cooler side of warm. His showers tended to depend on the weather outside. During the summer he took cool showers and in the winter he took hot ones. He told Ling so before he stepped out of the room. He watched when Ling came back and out his hair in a bun. He would have liked to do the same but he tended to get his hand tangled in his hair hair when he tried. He was lucky if he managed to get through ponytail without a glove over his hand.

He pulled this ponytail out and turned his back on Ling when he got into the shower. He was still listening, though. I was just that he had washed his hair once and didn't want to get it wet again. “Put my hair up for me? I already washed it once tonight. I didn't read much about the architecture. I was little and mostly focused on the animals and the adventure of the wilderness unknown to me. I have heard a little about your magic. Seems different than what out witches do here in Amestris. Al was more fascinated than I was if I'm honest.”

Ling enthusiastically agreed to pull Edward’s hair up for him, and resisted the urge to run his hands through his hair first. He didn’t resist the urge to lean in and kiss the skin below Edward’s hairline, though.

He was a little disappointed to hear that Edward wasn’t as interested in magic, but half a second later he brightened up, realizing that the book on Xingese magic he had brought for Edward would make a very good gift for Alphonse. “Oh.” He rested his chin on Edward’s head and reached around him to slide his hands over Edward’s, threading their fingers, “I was meaning to ask you what kinds of things Alphonse liked. I have the perfect gift for him if he likes magic, though. Your automail is so interesting.” He squeezed Edward’s hands lightly, completely distracted. “Your other hand is interesting too. I like them both.”

Ed huffed quietly when Ling rested his head on top of his but it turned into a quiet chuckle. It was hard to stay mad at Ling, unless he was being left with some ridiculous bill because of him. Really it was quite sweet that he was so concerned about Al liking him too.

“I'm a little more interested now. But magic, at least Amestrian magic, seems so tedious,” he said, leaning back against Ling some. “All the rituals and brewing. I mean if I really need to make a potion I can. Al had just always been better at it. I’m sure he’ll appreciate whatever you have in mind for him. It’s nice that you want him to like you,” he said with a quiet laugh.

Even if Ling was emphasizing how short he was it was nice, standing in the shower like this, just talking. He made an amused noise at the prince’s interest and let go of his hand so he could extend the arm out in front of him. The only people who had ever really been interested in his automail were other people who had it and other mechanics. He really was going to have to take Greed and Ling to Resembool the next time his arm got obliterated. Maybe they could butter Winry up and keep her from trying to kill him.

“You’re really into the automail, huh? Winry’s going to love you.” He spread his fingers and then curled them a few time, listening to the barely audible clicks of metal. “When I was younger I used to feel self conscious about it because everyone would stare. But I liked it better than when I was missing limbs. I didn’t even want to look at myself, then. It isn’t as bad now but I still hate not having my arm or leg. Whenever I have to go home and let Winry work on them I use a temporary leg to get around. It’s ugly but it works and it’s better than being stuck in a chair.”

“It’s so badass looking,” Ling said. He rested his hand on Edward’s automail bicep. “I know I’ve got different values than most people here, and maybe even in Xing too, but with the way I lived growing up, stuff like this was what made a person respectable. One of my sisters had the bottom half of her face burned and permanently scarred, and she can’t move her mouth very easily, but if anything it made her more popular. It showed that she was a survivor. She might not have been popular as a common citizen, but as a child of the emperor, fortitude is everything. Oh! Did you see the scar on my back?”

Ling’s mind was like a pinball machine, but he was so excited to spend time with Edward, he couldn’t keep a lid on his thoughts. He pulled away and turned around to show Edward his scar. It was mostly unnoticeable at first glance because the color had faded, but it traveled from his shoulder down to the opposite hip.

Now that he was turned around, the soap was in his line of sight and he remembered that they were in the shower to wash off. While he soaped himself down, he explained, “I got it in a battle. I think I told you about it? The first real battle I had ever had. I was an idiot, and turned around to get away instead of going to the side or down. But I’m proud of it now. Also I have a weird fascination with scars and bruises on myself. It sucks because they don’t last very long anymore.”

Edward reached up to touch Ling’s back. His own mind was going a mile a minute, just in a more linear fashion than his… What were Greed, Ling and he? Well it didn’t matter that much, he didn’t suppose. And the thought didn’t stick like some of the others. He was thinking about asking Winry about the applications of automail to a person’s face the next time he wrote to her. Surely it was possible. The ports would have to be significantly smaller and require a lot of small, fine working parts and tools. If anyone could do it, it would be Winry, though.

“I have a few scars, other than the obvious that you can see better when I’ve managed to tan,” he offered, running his fingers along the scar across Ling’s back. “I imagine that you’re quite a sight when you’re fighting or hunting,” he said with a grin. Ling had offered to spar with him sometime and he couldn’t wait, especially after seeing so much of the vampire. He might just end up losing if the man got him distracted.

“Somehow I’m not surprised you’re into seeing yourself all marked up,” he continued, rolling his eyes. It brought back thoughts of his neck that made him huff quietly. He was going to have to look at that when he got out of the shower. “Maybe if Winry ever succeeds in her experiments to make my automail a more viable weapon against vampires I can give you something that lasts a little longer,” he said playfully.

She had been trying for years to work out how to make his automail more of a specialized weapon than just a good bludgeoning tool and replacement for his limbs. Most of her problem was that she wanted to try and work on adding sigils and weaving spells into the metal that would be effective against vampires but the metal and magic didn’t always want to hold onto each other. Things like silver, gold, and copper were especially adept at holding magic but were too fragile of a metal for her to use for his automail with how he used it.

Ling preened, looking over his shoulder to beam at Edward. “I’d like that,” he said.

Hey, bitch, we share a body, remember? I don’t want your sex scars.

Greed would have to deal, because Ling would take anything Edward gave him. He turned back around to face Edward and started to wash him. “But yeah, I was an impressive hunter. I managed to almost kill one of the most powerful vampires in the world, after all! And I looked really cool too, at least from Greed’s memories.” He chuckled and moved closer so he could reach around and soap up Edward’s back. “If Greed hadn’t used his magic at the last minute, I’d be on the throne now. Honestly, I think I like this more.” He smiled down at Edward and gave him a short kiss on the lips.

Edward was a little surprised when Ling started washing him but simply rested his hands on the other man’s hips. He smoothed his thumb over the soft, damp skin in slow sweeping motions as he listened. Then, when he stepped closer he wrapped his arms around Ling's waist and started to run his fingers up and down his spine.

“Oh yeah? Taking shower with me makes it worth it, huh,” he teased, grinning as he leaned up to kiss the underside of the prince’s jaw. Personally he was glad that the had the chance to meet Ling, and by extension, Greed. He had admitted he wouldn't be the same person if he hadn’t ended up sharing a body with him.

Edward left a few more affectionate kisses down Ling's neck and then tilted his forehead against the man’s collar bone. Even if it did mean dealing with creeps like Envy, he was glad he was there at that moment. It was only going to get harder from that point on too. They were essentially going to start a war and assassinate the Fuhrer. Chuckling, he squeezed Ling in his arms and nuzzled into his chest a little. Everything about this relationship was going to be wild from start to finish.

Chapter Text

When Ling was done washing, he hugged Edward and rested his head on his. “Greed says we have to wait until the stuff is over, but we’re going to take you to Xing. And other places too. He used to travel the world with his lovers before. I have lots of things to show you in Xing, and Greed has lots of things everywhere to show you. You mentioned the lost city of Xerxes? Greed actually had a sort of reign there.”

Edward let himself relax as Ling's hands moved over his back. He wasn't tired exactly, but he would have been content to stay in the shower, laying open mouthed kisses all over the other man’s neck and chest. All he wanted to do is listen to him talk and lap up the warm, clean taste of his skin. The promises to be shown the world made something inside him ache with want. It was just another reason why he was going to make sure that neither of them died between now and then. And loath as he was to admit it, another reason for why they couldn't stay in the shower forever.

“The only place I have to show you is Resembool but I want to show you absolutely everything there is to see there,” he said with a chuckle. Letting go of Ling with one arm he groped for the knob on the wall to turn off the water. It was difficult to pull away from the other man, even long enough to step out of the shower and grab towels for the both of them. He felt drawn to the vampire like they were a pair of magnets. “You’d love the bonfires. Everyone brings something to eat or drink and there are people dancing and singing. Now a days they even last until a little after dark.”

They had hunted down so many of the vampires out in the country that it was no longer a death sentence to be out after sundown. Especially when you were in groups and had fires going. It was still common sense not to be out all night, though. Some people would just end up staying at the houses nearest to where the bonfire had been held rather than walking all the way home. He, Al, and his mother had often stayed at the Rockbells back when the fires would die down before the sun had even fully set. It had always served to strengthen the near familial ties between their families.

Ling dried himself off quickly and let his hair down. He smiled at the thought of going to see Resembool. “I’ve never been there, but I’ve seen Greed’s memories. I’m not actually sure where the places are, I just know they’re outside of Central, but this one time he went to this place and they had a bonfire like what you’re talking about. It was after dark, so Greed went to it and just told them that he was from up north and they didn’t suspect a thing. People were dancing and playing music. Everyone had a really huge gun, like some kind of shotgun, I mean everyone. Even the teenagers. That’s why they were so comfortable out at night, apparently. Greed was so fascinated by the really dark and morbid songs, but some women got onto the men for singing those and made them sing happy songs so those men stayed behind when everyone else went home so they could show Greed some more of the macabre stuff. I’m not usually into dark things like that but it sounded really cool.”

Hey, Ling, I’ve got an idea. Can I front?

Ling pouted. “But I want—“ He sighed and put his towel on a rack. “Fine, but let me give him his gift first.”

Cool.

Ling went into the bedroom and opened his backpack, first grabbing his extra pair of boxers to put on (Ling was always prepared for getting dicked down, after all), then sat on the bed and took out a couple of leather-bound books and waited for Edward to join him.

“Sounds like Resembool. Or some place like it,” Edward chuckled as he dried off and pulled down his own hair. His mother probably would have been one of the ones singing the dark and morbid songs rather than asking anyone to stop. He always remembered some of the songs being quite sad and dark but beautiful.

He put hung his towel, watching Ling's little conversation with Greed. He wished that he could hear both sides sometimes. Briefly the idea of having the two of them in separate bodies came to mind and he snorted. He would definitely have his work cut out for him. Greed would probably find it a lot harder to keep him and Ling out of trouble, too. Really the only one who might come out on top in that situation, ironically enough, was Ling. Smiling to himself, Edward slid into a new pair of boxers before joining Ling on the bed.

“You're going to end up spoiling me if you keep bringing me stuff like some kind of cat every time we see each other,” he teased, already eyeing the books eagerly.

Ling beamed. “I’m courting you, I have to bring gifts!” He handed the books to Edward, four in total. “So the one on the top is for Alphonse. It’s about ancient Xingese magic, compared to modern Xingese magic. The one under that is the basics of Xingese language, specifically writing and a little bit on ancient script. The next one is a book on the history of magical creatures in Xing and has a lot on vampire hunting, and the bottom one is a guide to some Xingese historical sites. I thought you would like to learn some before we go! I have a lot more books from Xing you would probably like, but they’re in Xingese.” He wiggled in his seat in excitement.

“You really don't,” Edward said, though was eagerly taking the stack of books and laying them on his lap. The first he gave a cursory glance but then set it aside for the others. In particular the one about magical creatures called to him. The one concerning the language and historical sights also piqued his interest, though. Especially when Ling told him what they were for. “I might just let you if you keep bringing me stuff like this though!! These are amazing, thank you!”

He was going to need help learning the language but that just gave him another excuse to maybe start lurking around Greed's place instead of going straight home when he got off work some nights.

Ling preened. He loved seeing the way Edward’s eyes lit up. “You’re very welcome,” he said, then leaned forward to sweetly kiss Edward on the lips. “If you were surprised by what vampires are like in Central, then you’ll love learning about Xingese vampires. They’re very diverse. We also have quite a bit of mermaids and centaurs, though we don’t hunt them because they don’t pose a threat to us. Also, we have a different way of fighting a thrall, but it’s got some drawbacks too. It also talks about Xingese dragons, which I’ve always found fascinating. They’re a big part of Xingese culture, in the art and architecture and stuff.”

He sighed. “I’ve got to give the stage to Greed now.” He leaned in again for another kiss before he took the back seat again.

Greed held the kiss for a few seconds before pulling away and looking down at the books in Edward’s lap. “You wouldn’t believe how long he spent looking for these books,” he said with a sly grin.

Edward was already thumbing through the book on magical creatures. It wasn't that they didn't have some of the same creatures in Amestris. They sometimes took a, at least in Edward's mind, too aggressive approach to magical creatures. It made accurate Information scarce sometimes. He let himself be pulled away for a kiss, though. One that he enthusiastically returned.

“See you next time,” Ed offered as a goodbye when Ling said he had to let Greed front. He leaned into their last kiss, letting out a slightly disappointed hum when Greed broke it. “I don't know if I would, honestly. I’ve met him only twice now but he seems so sweet,” Edward said with a smile, stroking his hand over the cover of the spines of the books. “He doesn't do anything by halves does he?”

Ed gave the tomes a fond look before setting them aside and looking up at Greed. “Now what did you need to come out for? Not that I mind. Just if you're here for round two we’re going to have to do it somewhere that isn't on the bed because I'm not changing the sheets again.”

Greed was grinning ear to ear. “While I’m perfectly fine with wall sex, I have another thing in mind. Between being sweet and talking about snooping around in my memories, Ling reminded me of something I’ve done before and I wanna know if you’re interested. So I told you about how thralls work, how we have a mind component and everything. Well, a long time ago I was with one of my human lovers and we were experimenting with my thrall and I found out that I could use my thrall to share my memories. Not all of them, but ones I have really clearly I can sort of replicate them and play them out like a story. Would you be interested in something like that?”

He was excited. It had been centuries since he’d done this, but there were things he wanted to share with Edward. It had been a long time since he felt so eager about another person this quickly after meeting them.

Edward's eyes went wide at trying suggestion and he scooted closer to Greed. The vampire just never ceased to surprise him! “Hell yeah I would,” he said excitedly. He almost wondered if Greed was trying to one-up Ling but didn't say anything about it. “You really are going to spoil me!”

He chuckled at that, thinking that he was going to be entirely ruined for anyone else. Guess that meant Greed was just stuck with him. “Who knew the real reason I’ve avoided a relationship up til now was because I was waiting for someone who could give me the best,” he joked.

Greed laughed. “I wouldn’t say the best, a lot of my memories are fucking depressing, but it’s cool anyway. I feel like the spoiling isn’t gonna happen until we can hit the road. But I’m fine with that, it’s not like I don’t get anything out of it either.” He winked and scooted back so he could get under the covers, then invited Edward to do the same. “It’s been like… three hundred? Four hundred years? Since I did this. But the concept hasn’t changed so we’ll see how it goes.”

Greed wasn’t sure what he wanted to try first. Something easy, something clear in his mind. He remembered the bonfire scene Ling had described earlier and decided that that would be the best one since it was fresh. When Edward was settled he scooted closer and grinned, unable to contain his excitement. “Okay, this was what Ling was talking about earlier with the bonfire stuff. This was like… two centuries ago or so, maybe a bit less. Memories are weird, though. They’re more...emotional than they are anything else. So like… I’m not sure if you’ll be able to see it clearly or what, but… we’ll see.”

Edward didn’t necessarily think that fact that Greed’s memories were depressing kept them from being an amazing thing to share. Who else would be able to show him things that some had never seen before? Or if they had seen it they were probably dead now. He made himself comfortable, shifting closer to Greed and throwing an arm over him before the vampire initiate his thrall.

Greed took a deep breath, then closed his eyes and concentrated his thrall, then brought up the memory in his mind. Once he was ready, he eased it into the thrall.

 

 

 

The night was hot, and sticky. Greed approached the massive fire while a few humans stood to watch him. They had been worried when they first spotted him from the top of their little hill, but as he got closer they seemed to relax, and most went back to talking and playing music. Greed struggled to keep his gait at a lazy walk. He wanted to run up there to see what was going on, but he knew that would make them panic. He had to blend in, after all.

“May I join you?” Greed called once he was close enough.

A few more humans looked his way, and one of the ones standing — a tall and skinny man — called back, “Come on over. You a wanderer?”

Greed climbed the hill and looked around the little get together. There were maybe thirty humans, maybe forty, a couple of children and a couple of elders. There were tree logs around the fire where humans sat and drank and ate human food, and about five had instruments and were idly strumming or plucking them while they watched the newcomer. “Something like that,” he answered the skinny man. “What is this?”

The man looked around as if he had never thought about what exactly it was they were doing on the hill, then looked back at Greed. “It’s a whoop-dee-do. You ain’t ever been to one?”

Their accents were strange, and a bit funny. Greed stifled a laugh. “I have not,” he said.

Another man, one holding a sort of circular guitar-like instrument, made a whistling noise. “You’s one of them Yankees, ain’t ya? Talkin all fancy. Come on, sit down. You from the big city?”

Greed sat down next to the men with instruments. “You could say I’m from a little bit of everywhere. Drachma by birth, though.”

“Yeah, I knew you was Oriental,” said a woman over a glass jar of some liquid.

“Brenda, you dimwit! Drachmans ain’t no Orientals! They’re up north!”

Greed laughed and pointed at the man’s instrument. “What is this?”

The man looked down at his instrument. “What, this? That’s my banjo. You ain’t never heard a banjo before?”

Greed shook his head. “I have not. I’d like to. Play me something?”

“Well of course, that’s why we’re here! Diggin a Grave?” He turned to the others, who nodded, and the band began to play.

It started with the man picking his banjo in a minor key, then drums and another banjo joined in, and people began to clap and stomp their feet. They sang, “diggin a grave in the moonlight! Diggin a grave where we lay! Hopin the sun, don’t ever come up, and there’ll be no compromise again!” A violin player joined in with a jaunty kind of melody that Greed had never heard on a violin before, and a man held some small rectangular metal instrument to his face and blew through it. The entire thing was a kind of music he had never heard before, though it sort of reminded him of the kind of music he heard in Drachma, and in Xerxes, and some island countries before. How it managed to find its way to the middle of bumfuck nowhere was lost on him, but he was downright fascinated.

 

Greed released his thrall and sat back, feeling his head spin a bit. He watched Edward curiously. “What was that like?”

It was different than anything else he had done for Ed before. Rather than just having the way he processed sensation tweaked everything seemed to change. It was like being in a dream. The images were clear for the most part and though the things the people were saying was a bit muffled, the music was clear as a bell. And it all felt familiar, not the same as the Resembool that he knew but like looking at an old photograph. Like the ones he’d seen of his childhood home while it was in the process of being built. It was amazing, seeing things from Greed’s perspective, feeling how interested he was in this little group of country folk and their music.

The whole scene was a lot like the bonfires that he’d been to as a child. Albeit smaller and later into the night than he’d ever been allowed to stay out, especially after his father left. He could vaguely remember his mother being much more permissive about them being out at night when he was around.

When he came back to himself in bed he was humming the song quietly to himself. It had been rather familiar. He smiled up at Greed’s question and pressed himself closer to the vampire. “It was amazing! Like being in a weirdly vivid dream. Only the voices were a little muddled. But the music and the feelings were clear as a bell.” He looked up at the Vampire and grinned. “You should show me what it was like in Xerxes when you ruled there sometime,” he lightly jabbed at the other man’s side as he spoke. “You didn’t tell me you were both royalty, he teased, tilting his head to the side and reaching up to drag a lock of blonde hair over his shoulder. “Is it some sort of subconscious desire for gold that drew you two to me or what?” The thought made him snicker quietly.

Greed was glad that Edward enjoyed the memory so much. Edward’s smile was beautiful.

Seeing him smile is like seeing the sun come out on a cloudy day, Ling agreed.

Greed’s own smile faded when Edward mentioned Xerxes, and it was replaced by a sarcastic one. “I wasn’t royalty,” he argued, “Ling is just seeing things without context. I was more like a corrupt general that led an occupation of the country for a while. It wasn’t really gold I was after, but just power. I saw my siblings getting power and prestige and women out in Xerxes so I went down there and took it all for myself. Envy and Pride were the ones that fought the hardest for it, and we ended up sort-of-sharing it, though I still fought them over it and sat at the top of the ladder.” He thought about his time in Xerxes, but he really couldn’t think of anything he wanted to share with Edward. Eventually he sighed and said, “Xerxes was the first place where I had a human lover. I guess that’s the least horrific things I could show you.”

He closed his eyes again and focused. Vampire memories were a lot more accurate than human memories, but a vampire mind worked more like a vault than a cabinet. He had to really try hard to get at his deeper memories. When he was ready, he put out his thrall.

 

 

 

When Greed met his new consort that had been sent as appeasement from Xing, he wasn’t expecting a man. And he wasn’t expecting a cow, either.

“This is a man,” Greed said to one of the men who had brought the prince from Xing.

The man bowed. “You demanded a consort from the children of the Emperor. All of the Emperor’s children are male.”

Greed eyed the prince, in all of his tiny, unhappy glory. He couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, and Greed towered over him. He was pale, and had long black hair he kept in a ponytail. He glared up at Greed, seeming not to notice the nearly two feet of difference between them.

Greed then looked at the cow, and pointed at it. “And what am I supposed to do with this?” He asked.

The prince spoke. “You can shove it up your ass.”

Greed turned back to him, wide-eyed, then burst into laughter. “Oh, you’ve got spunk, don’t you?” He turned back to the other man. “Alright, I’ll keep him.”

 

 

 

Greed admired himself in the mirror in his new robes. They were purple and white, and they looked perfect against his darker complexion in comparison to the orange he had worn before. He adjusted his glasses and turned around to address his new consort. “What do you think?” He asked.

Yan, lounged in the silk bed, regarded Greed with a clearly bored face. “You look like a piece of shit,” he said.

Greed grinned. “Thanks,” he said. A part of him was a little hurt, but he wouldn’t admit to that.

 

 

 

It was daylight, and extremely bright. Greed could barely see a thing, even though he was hidden inside. He was watching Yan through the window while he weaved. He was beautiful. He worked diligently by the small pond in the courtyard, his face showing deep concentration. Birds sang loudly, and ducks splashed around in the pond, and Greed wanted so badly to join him.

He knew Yan weaved in the courtyard because Greed couldn’t join him.

 

 

 

“You’re obsessed with that human,” Pride complained, leaning into the mirror so she could stick golden earrings through her earlobes.

Greed didn’t answer, so Envy answered for him. “He’s got human fever. He’s in love.

Pride turned around and crossed her arms. “It’s not funny, Envy. He let the human run free in my quarters.”

“He wanted to paint,” Greed said nonchalantly.

“So you let him wreak havoc in my quarters?” Pride asked.

Greed rolled his eyes. “Wreak havoc,” he repeated under his breath.

“You know you aren’t going to win that human’s favor,” Pride continued, “You stole him from his home land and forced him to marry you. You’re a vampire! Nothing you do is going to make him think any more of you. Why even care?”

Greed looked out of the window, and he didn’t answer. Why did he even care? It wasn’t as if he couldn’t get everything he wanted from Yan. He got sex, blood, obedience (sometimes), what else could he want? Why does he insist on staying awake during the day to watch Yan in the courtyard, why does he feel so goddamn empty when Yan doesn’t engage with him during sex, then leave right after to sit in the window and stare at the moon rather than stay in bed? It was just a human, meant for his entertainment. Why did he feel so unhappy, and yearning? What was he yearning for?

 

Greed hadn’t meant to show that last part, but it had happened. He sighed and looked at the ceiling. “Yan didn’t exactly like me, and for good reason,” he said.

Edward had got quiet when his teasing wasn't quite well received. He forgot that Greed hadn't always been a particularly good person. He let himself be drawn into the thrall anyway, though. The memories didn't hold the same fondness that the ones before had but from what he saw Xerxes had indeed been beautiful. As had Greed's first human lover. It was a shame how they had come together. Yan may have felt fondly of Greed if not for the fact that he was essentially stolen from his home.

The hunter was left with a sort of melancholy when the thrall faded. Though he anticipated that it wasn't near as bad as how Greed probably felt. He snuggled in a little closer, laying his had on Greed's chest and tossing a leg over one of his for good measure. His flesh hand stroked up and down Greed's side.

“Well...I can understand why he might not like you. Even though you were rather handsome,” he said playfully. He lifted his head and dug his chin into Greed's chest a little, meaning to be annoying. “And unfairly tall I might add. You're a better person now, though. And I, personally, am quite fond of you,” he assured with a grin. “Helps that you're closer to my height though. I would hate it if I had to climb you like a tree just to get a kiss.”

Greed’s empty feeling went away when Edward snuggled up to him, and he looked at him with a little smile. He really was sweet. Greed really hadn’t expected him to be so affectionate, but honestly it was a dream come true. He wondered if Ling had anything to do with it, and he sent him a silent thank you.

You’re welcome.

Greed leaned over a bit to kiss Edward. “I would bend over to kiss you anyway so you wouldn’t have to be climbing anything,” he said, “Or pick you up. Whichever is more convenient.” He smiled a little wider and shifted to face Edward again. “I want to show you some stuff with Junjie. He’ll be pissed if he ever finds out but I don’t care, he was adorable.”

“Oh I would kick you if you picked me up,” Edward said, entirely serious in his threat. Being held and cuddled when he was laying down was one thing, actually, now that he’d gotten a taste of it, he found he really liked it. But being picked up like a child was entirely different. But Greed seemed to be feeling better so he didn’t say anymore about it and let himself be pulled into another memory.

Greed went over his memories for a moment. Some were depressing like the last, but a few were happy. He picked a couple and put them into his thrall.

 

 

 

Elodie was nearly passed out by the time it was over. Greed had used his thrall, but he couldn’t use as much as Elodie wanted him to without shutting down his body. The baby was difficult. Elodie had been in labor for three days, and Greed had been close to performing surgery before the baby finally started to come out.

Greed wasn’t sure what to expect. Vampire-human hybrids were a documented phenomenon, but vampire-fairy hybrids were not. Greed had never heard of such a thing, and he wasn’t sure the fetus would even survive the two-year pregnancy. Fairy offspring alone were hard to predict at conception, due to the type of fairy depending on the season in which the baby is born. He wasn’t sure whether this baby would follow those patterns.

 

 

 

Greed wrapped his newborn son in a blanket as well as he could with his one and a half arms and held him close. He wasn’t crying like human babies, and Greed feared that he was dead. But when he put his hand over his tiny little chest, he could feel a heartbeat. It was so small, but persistent, and suddenly Greed’s throat constricted and tears filled his eyes. He was alive. Greed had a son.

 

 

 

Elodie didn’t look up when Greed approached him with a crying Junjie. “Elodie, you need to feed him.”

Elodie didn’t seem to have heard him.

“Elodie, he’s hungry.”

The fairy finally looked over at the baby and then opened his robe. Greed sat down next to him and handed Junjie to him. Elodie positioned the baby at his breast and he started to suckle eagerly, and Greed sighed with relief. He hadn’t been eating well lately.

Elodie gingerly picked up one of Junjie’s wings, small black things that looked somewhat like a dragon’s wings, and the beginnings of a skinny black tail at the base of his spine. “He’s a monster,” Elodie murmured.

Greed hummed and smiled a little. “He’s our little monster, though.”

Elodie didn’t smile back. “I think he’s going to grow horns.”

“Really?” Greed peered closer, trying to look at the top of Junjie’s head.

Elodie parted some of the black hair and leaned over a bit to show Greed. “See these little bald spots?”

There were bald spots, two of them, and the hair pattern was swirled around it like the fur on the top of a newborn goat’s head. “Are there any fairies that have horns?” He asked.

Elodie shook his head. “Only abominations. I birthed a demon.”

Greed smiled. Regardless of what Elodie said, Junjie was perfect. He couldn’t wait to see what his horns looked like.

 

 

 

Greed sat cross legged outside while he sketched Junjie. He had gotten better at drawing since losing most of his left forearm, because he spent the time he used to spend playing music with drawing. Junjie was about five years old, and his horns were no more than a pair of nubs on the top of his head. It seemed like his growing rate was about the same as a fairy’s. He couldn’t believe that humans only had six months to get where Junjie got in five years.

“Papa!” Junjie yelled as he shakily stood up on chubby legs.

“Yeah?” Greed responded.

Junjie trotted toward him with his hands cupped in front of him, and when he got close he held them up to Greed and opened them, and a grasshopper jumped out. Greed feigned amazement and surprise. “Wow! You caught a grasshopper!”

“Grasshopper?” Junjie asked, looking at his empty hands.

“Yeah, you caught a grasshopper. Can you go catch me another one?”

Junjie trotted off again, his wings outstretched to keep his balance. They were about half the height of his body now. Greed wondered if they would keep growing at those proportions. He almost looked like the hybrid form of a dragon, except that his tail was very skinny and had a small fan at the end as opposed to the heavy and thick tails dragons possessed. He looked more like the way Christians often depicted the devil, except as a cute-ass Xingese baby.

He wondered what Junjie would have looked like if Greed still had his original body. He had always had slanted eyes, but before he was taller, darker, his face was longer. He had looked more obviously native to the area between Drachma and Xing.

“Papa!!” Junjie cried and ran to him again, holding another grasshopper that jumped into Greed’s hair. Junjie laughed, and Greed’s heart sang. He would remember this forever.

 

Greed was smiling still when he released his thrall. “Elodie acted like a bitch about Junjie at first but warmed up to him eventually. Fairies are so ridiculous and cliquey, even about family.”

It got a little easier to fall into the memories each time.

These ones were the most clear yet. In the ones previous it had been almost like watching over Greed’s shoulder. He could get the feelings associated with the place and the things that Greed was most interested in stood out. In the memories about Junjie, everything was clear as crystal, even overlapped with some of his own feelings that made everything all the more intense. Junjie was adorable. And even with the wings and suggestion of horns he brought up some of Ed’s own memories of the first time he’d seen a baby born.

The baby remained absolutely precious, even when his horns came in and his tail grew out. Maybe others would have seen a little demon or monster. Maybe it was Edward’s own tangles with real monsters that let him ignore it. When he came out of the memory he chuckled huskily and reached up to wipe under his eyes. He’d felt Greed’s happiness over having a child so strongly that even he started to cry. It could have been the residual bits of those strong emotions that had his heart feeling so full and pleasantly heavy in his chest.

“I bet you were an awesome dad,” he said, smiling fondly. “You know I helped deliver a baby once before? Or rather Winry had me doing busy work like boiling water and grabbing towels while she delivered a baby.” The hunter snorted at the memory and lifted his hand so he could run his finger over the left side of Greed’s chest in little figure eights. “It was when we were getting a lot of vampire attacks out in the country. Anyway this man had left his house in the middle of the night to try and find a doctor because his wife went into labor. He didn’t make it that far before a vampire sniffed him out. So he comes running up to the Rockbell’s door, screaming about how he needs to be let in. Of course we let him come on in. He tells us all about his wife and why he was out so late.” Edward paused to grin. Winry had been half done fixing his arm and nearly whacked him over the head when he stood up saying that he and Al would get the doctor. After all, Pinako had a damn phone. “So Pinako calls the doctor, Al offers to go and make sure he gets there in one piece, and I offer to escort the guy home. Winry had been fixing my arm at the time and insisted on coming with me! I tried to get her to stay behind but you can’t just tell Winry Rockbell what to do. It was a good thing, through. The birth was complicated and if we had to wait for the doctor then the mother would’ve probably died.”

He wished that he could show Greed his own memories. His quick little story hadn’t’ done the whole thing justice. Still, he smiled a little and shook his head. “I had to hold this little bloody, squirming thing in my arms while Winry kept it’s mother alive and i had never felt so amazed by anything in my life. There was this tiny, little thing in my arms and they barely weighed anything at all. It was crazy to think of that little baby growing up and having their own life, making their own stories and going on their own adventures.”

At the time he couldn’t imagine the amount of fear and joy that would consume a parent, having this little person they were going to have to raise. Really, he still couldn’t. He didn’t often ponder on the family he might one day have but when he did the idea of having to be responsible for a tiny human’s mental and physical wellbeing was daunting. He couldn’t even keep all his own limbs attached.

Greed leaned into Edward to listen while he told his story. He imagined the sticky heat of Resembool nights, the danger of being a human in a land full of feral vampires. He grinned as Edward described holding a baby. “It is amazing isn’t it?! When you’re holding this tiny little person that’s just like you — so vulnerable and breakable and completely dependent on you to feed it and care for it. And it’s even more amazing to get to actually watch them grow up and experience the world brand new. To see an actual person and remember holding him in your arms the moment he was born.” He thought about the day Junjie left to travel on his own. It had been a day full of strong emotions, but not necessarily a sad day. He had raised Junjie for over a century, which was longer than any human got to spend with their children. Junjie was only a tenth of the way through his assumed lifespan, but he had lived fully until then and was going on to live even more fully for the rest of it.

You should show him our battle, Ling said.

Greed’s eyes widened and he sucked in a breath. This would be fun. He grinned wide and chuckled a little wickedly. “I’ve got something else to show you. You mentioned before that you’d like to see Ling hunt, right?”

Edward wouldn’t say he’d felt quite that way while holding the near-stranger’s baby while Winry kept her from bleeding out in her own bed. After all it wasn’t his child so the emotions hadn’t been as strong but he liked how excited talking about his son made Greed sound. When he snuck a peek at the other man he couldn't hold back the grin. Greed just looked so happy. It was cute and almost made him look like Ling. Which was an odd thing to say considering he was inhabiting Ling’s body but if you were looking there were differences between how the two looked when one or the other was fronting.

Speaking of Ling, when Greed mentioned seeing him hunt, Edward propped himself up on his elbow. He narrowed his eyes at the man but smiled. It was hard not to pick up on where this was going. “I do indeed! I was thinking of taking him hunting out in Resembool whenever I get a chance to drag you two there,” he said, cocking his head to the side. “But I’m guessing you’re going to give me a taste of what that’s like before then, aren’t you?”

Greed poked Edward on the nose, mostly because of how cute he looked than anything else. Edward playfully nipped at his finger in response. “Not exactly a taste of what it’s like hunting with Ling as much as being hunted by him,” Greed said, “Don’t let his behavior in bed fool you, he’s a fucking badass. Remember, my siblings and I are the oldest and strongest vampires in the world. None of us have been killed. But this fucking twink got really fucking close to being the first to kill one.”

Ah, Greed! You flatter me!

 

It was a fairly normal night, and the moon was nearly full. Greed sat on a flat rooftop and watched the city, waiting for a human to come by. He wasn’t actively hunting since it wasn’t feeding time yet, but it was close.

He smelled the human before he saw or heard it, and that was strange. He only smelled it on a sudden breeze from a new direction, meaning that the human had intentionally been downwind. Greed wasn’t sure how it had managed to slip past his hearing, but it only meant one thing: it was hunting him.

He had barely stood up before something sharp pierced his back, right where his head had been moments before. It burned badly, and he groaned with pain and turned around only to see a shadow disappear over the edge of the building.

Fuck,” he spat, stumbling toward the edge of the roof. The pain in his back was spreading. He reached behind him to feel around, and pulled out a thin stick-like thing that burned his fingers. He threw it to the side and wiped his hand on his pants. It didn’t exactly feel like silver, but it was something Greed had felt before. Not in Amestris, and not recently. Whoever was hunting him was not some basic Amestrian Hunter, that was for sure. “Who the fuck are you?” He asked into the dark.

He heard just the barest slip of fabric behind him, and he twirled around, only to hear the whoosh of another needle and a stabbing pain in his ear. He hissed and raced to the end of the roof and reached down before the retreating figure could jump off of it again, and flung them in an arc over his head and slammed them onto the roof. It was a woman by the sound of her cry of pain, but she was decked in dark silk and a painted mask, something he had seen before. His hand stung a bit where it touched the fabric, and suddenly he remembered from where this was familiar.

What the fuck,” Greed said down at her, “You from Xing? What do you want?”

A rather effeminate and calm male voice spoke from behind him, “I want your dead body.”

Greed spun around, but he couldn’t see where the voice had come from. He looked around, and it was a second before he saw the man standing on the corner of the roof. How had he done that? Greed didn’t hesitate and ran at the man, but his foot had been caught by something and he fell face-down onto the roof, and another stab of pain hit his foot. He screamed.

The woman had gotten up and trapped his foot and then staked it into the roof. The wound wasn’t healing, and the pain wouldn’t go away. Every time Greed tried to pull, it only hurt worse. Greed hissed in a breath and yanked his foot upwards and out of the stake, screaming in pain. As soon as he could, he stumbled to his feet and ran at the man at the edge of the roof, and sailed after him when he jumped off into the alleyway.

His foot was throbbing, but he ignored it. He stared wild-eyed at the man at the other end of the alley, and administered a paralyzing thrall.

Only, the thrall wouldn’t work. There was some sort of wall between the man and Greed. He yelled in frustration and ran at him again, only for him to jump out of the way. What kind of human had those kinds of reflexes and acrobatics?! He swung his arm at him, but he never landed a blow. “Fuck!” He screamed.

“You like that word,” the human said. He was breathing heavily, but nowhere near out of breath. Greed was at the end of his patience.

“Who are you?!” He demanded, then threw another punch.

The man avoided it easily, then somersaulted on top of a dumpster. He looked down at Greed with an almost creepy smile. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

He heard the woman attacking from above and dodged the blow, rolling to the side.

Greed could only lay there coughing up blood as the man approached him and knelt down next to him, smiling down at him. “My name is Ling Yao,” the man told him, “I’m the twelfth son of the current Emperor of Xing, soon to be the next Emperor when I lay your body in the middle of Jingzhao for all to see.”

How regretful, to die without the body in which he was born. The body he lived in now was sturdy, but it held none of the prowess and honor his previous one held. He didn’t want to die in this body. He didn’t want Junjie to have to see his mauled and bloody form like this.

Junjie...

The next moments were a blur as Greed summoned every last bit of strength he had within him and grabbed Ling’s arm, pulling himself up and hooking his fangs into the man’s flesh. The element of surprise had been on his side for once, and he could feel the bones in Ling’s wrist crack under his grip. He felt more pain and pulling on his body as though he were being ripped apart even more, but he wasn’t paying attention. The pain that came next was one he hadn’t felt in many centuries, but he welcomed it eagerly.

His soul ripped itself from his body and flowed into Ling’s. He heard screaming, and then nothing.

 

Greed woke up on the ground, and the first thing he saw was his own dead body, ripped in half and covered in blood, staring up at the moon in a silent scream. When he moved, his new body ached and stung from the inside, probably from the vampirism taking hold. He looked down and saw two hands planted on the ground. Two actual, working hands.

Stumbling to his feet, he held his left hand up in front of his face and squeezed it into a fist. He laughed. “Fuck yeah!”

“Young Lord?” A tentative voice asked from behind him.

Greed turned around and saw the woman staring at him. He grinned wickedly. “Your lord is gone,” he said, and laughed when she gasped in horror. “I’m taking over this joint! Go back to Xing, why don’t you?”

He didn’t wait for her to answer, but he turned tail and ran. He would have climbed to the roof where he was more comfortable, but he had to get used to his new body. It was strong, and nimble. He knew he would be leaping between rooftops like an acrobat in no time. He laughed while he ran, and whooped triumphantly. He’d survived.

 

Edward had figured that the memory would be from the perspective of being hunted, not the one hunting, but he hadn't been quite prepared for how that would feel. When Ling and his partner made their move he wondered how much of what he was feeling was Greed. The sensation of being prey wasn't entirely unfamiliar to Ed. After all, he had been a small, human child born into a world full of monsters and things that went bump in the night lurking just outside his door.

Thankfully whatever pain Greed had felt then was somewhat muted in the thrall. All it did was make him shudder against Greed's side, brow furrowing at the sensation. He was thankful for that. After dealing with Envy he was done with pain for the night. It did leave him wanting all of Ling's ancient Xingese secrets though! Winry probably would as well if he told her about them. Fabric that could burn a vampire? Metals that could too and were actually strong enough to be used as practical weapons?!

And then there was the very strange sensation of switching bodies. He wanted to talk more to Greed about that but his desire to learn all he could was met with the feeling that maybe power such as that would be something best left unknown. Not all creatures were bad and not all humans were good. Anyone with bad intentions and ambition could make use of such powerful magic.

By the time he came out of the thrall he was squirming, dragging himself up so he could lay half on top of Greed. His hair fell over his shoulders in slightly damp wet strands that just barely touched Greed's chest with how Ed had propped himself up. At least he was kind enough to use his whole forearm as a prop instead of his elbow.

“It's almost a shame Ling is such a bottom. I’d let him chase me through the woods on a moonless night,” he teased, eyes burning with mirth and curiosity. On the other hand, though. It makes it a lot easier to fuck all those ancient Xingese hunting secrets out of him,” he said with a cheeky grin.

That dreamy feeling was back, like the first night they met. Only instead of it being some strange, unusual warping of the mind it was just like a pleasant daydream come to life. All too easy to sink into it and enjoy the feeling of happiness and anticipation. He couldn't wait for Greed and Ling to show him the world. He couldn't wait to show them what little bit of the big blue marble he called home and all the people in it. He wanted to see and learn everything he possibly could in the meager time he was given as a mortal man. And he wouldn’t be all too unhappy if Greed was there with him.

Of course there was a cynical but well-meaning part of himself that wanted to remind him that they may never make it that far. One of them could die. Both of them could. Or maybe after a time they may not come to hold each other's interest. All a matter of things could happen. But it was easy enough to ignore them all and lean in to kiss Greed instead.

Greed chuckled at Edward’s teasing and gazed at him lovingly, appreciating how his hair looked silver in the moonlight. He kissed back sweetly, and opened his mouth to deepen the kiss while his hands ran through Edward’s damp hair. He was struck again with how lucky he was to have met the Hunter in the way he did. He could feel Ling’s desire to front, and he receded easily.

Ling nipped Edward’s bottom lip before pulling away with a grin. “I’d happily chase you through the woods,” he said, “Though the second option sounds more fun. And they’re not ancient secrets, just modern ones. You’ll actually read about a lot of them in that book I gave you. You know that woman that was with me that night? That was Lan Fan! She knows a lot about that stuff.”

Edward kissed Greed eagerly through the transition and then snickered quietly when Ling spoke to him he hummed, giving him another quick pecked on the lips before settling down some and laying his chin on the back of his arm. He didn't bother to get off of Ling, though.

“I had a feeling that’s who she was,” he said, smiling up at the prince. “I can't wait to read that book you gave me! But I wouldn't mind getting some answers now. Can I get them even if I don't fuck them out of you?” he asked arching a brow. “What was it about the fabric that was burning Greed?” The hunter was practically vibrating with excitement over learning something new.

Ling wrapped his arms around Edward’s waist and giggled softly. “You could fuck them out of me, but that would ruin another set of sheets.” He giggled again, but then relented. “In Xing we discovered a metal a little bit like silver, we call it huojinshu. It is extremely rare, but being a prince I had as much of it as I wanted. Lan Fan was wearing a fabric with huojinshu weaved with silk. I wasn’t wearing any because I didn’t like how it felt. It’s… it stings, to touch it. It doesn’t do any damage that we know of, and we’ve been using it for a few centuries by now. We also incorporated it into weapons. Remember the needles that Lan Fan shot at Greed? Those were coated in huojinshu. The edges of my twin swords are coated in it as well, but just the edges. It’s a rare metal.” He put his hand on Edward’s cheek and rubbed his thumb over the dimple in his chin. “Does that answer your question?”

Edward listened attentively. It was a shame that the metal was rare. And all the way in Xing. Winry had tried to coat part of his automail in silver but the plating had a tendency to break off during truly vicious fights. She had even tried charms to keep everything in place. But the matic just wouldn't bind effectively to the less hospitable metals. He nudged his cheek into Ling's hand and bit his lip at the prince's question. It had answered his question. But now he had more.

“How did you keep it from breaking off?” he asked after a moment, lifting his automail hand. “Winry has done experiments with trying to plate parts of my hand in silver but it always ends up getting broken off during really rough fights,” he said, curling his fingers a couple times. Winry would probably kill to get a hold of some of that metal. “She used to joke about how she wished there were still dragons in Amestris so that she could forge something out of their scales or claws that I wouldn't manage to break,” he laughed.

Ling nodded. “Dragon scales are truly the strongest material in the world that I know of,” he said, “Though I know Xingese dragons are very different than Amestrian dragons. We still have dragons in Xing, and some still worship them. Anyway, I made my twin blades myself. After I poured and shaped the sword, I dipped in molten huojinshu while it was still hot, then shaped it again. It hasn’t even chipped for me so far. It’s a sturdy metal. It’s versatile too. I think you have to actually do the coating while huojinshu and the other metal is hot, because trying to paint it over a cool sword doesn’t really work.”

“I'm tempted to tell Winry about it. But then we’d have to go to Xing and I just don't know if we have time for that kind of travel right now,” Ed said with a chuckle. Ling was probably right about the metal seeming to bind better to another metal while it was still hot. Maybe they could try the practice with silver sometime.

His comment about Xingese dragons made him hum, his head tilting slightly in interest.

“In Amestris the relationship with dragons was always somewhat strained. There were always rumors about dragons coming down from the mountains to scoop up pretty virgins and eat cattle, stuff like that. The closest people got to worshipping them was sending out their virgin daughters to get eaten and spare their village.” The lore on dragons in Amestris was woefully thin. Though as far as Ed was concerned that didn't make sense. Was one girl really supposed to satisfy the appetites if a dragon? Nonsense.

“Anyway they were like the boogeyman around here for a while,” he friend for a moment, having had something occur to him. “But for the most part we just left them alone. They left us alone… and then Fuhrer Bradley came to power and they started encouraging people to hunt them especially up in the mountains where they get to be really huge. It all tied in to the Ishvalan war. I don't know about their religion so much but they lived with dragons and tried to protect them…” he said, frowning deeply. The war had been rough out in the country sides toward the South. Thankfully most of it was over by the time Ed was old enough to truly remember it all. But he remembered some bits and parts. People with white hair, dark skin, and red eyes in the Rockbell’s kitchen. “Why would Bradley want the dragons killed?” he said quietly.

Ling listened with interest. A lot of it was stuff he already knew thanks to Greed. In fact, Greed knew more about it than he did, so he let him front.

“I actually know a little about that,” Greed whispered quietly, “I don’t know for sure, but I think it has something to do with this guy that my mentor doesn’t like. He’s an ancient dragon, and he helped my mentor become what he did but they never saw eye to eye. If he’s trying to wipe out the dragons, I imagine it’s something to do with him.”

He wasn’t sure why his mentor would go after Hohenheim now of all times. They’d been alive for over two millennia. It frustrated Greed to not know what was going on, with Bradley too. Why had his mentor created Bradley? Had he actually killed the last Wrath, or was this a new type of body that aged and blended in with humans? Was he planning something?

That unnerved Greed. First, he was disowned and kicked out of the coven with a warning: don’t do anything to cross me or next time I feed you to the ferals, I’ll stay and make sure you die. Then, Bradley made an appearance, and then the Ishvalan war, and the hunting of dragons. Amestris had always been ethnocentric, but since Bradley’s rise, the nation had become almost hostile with other nations attempting to make contact. It was one of the big reasons why Xing’s advancements hadn’t made it to Amestris, and vice versa. He almost wondered if that anything to do with how devastating Xing’s vampire hunting gear would be on his siblings, or if it was just a happy side-effect. The thought of Hohenheim made him grit his teeth. Where the fuck had he been lately? He remembered screaming that name desperately when he was being torn apart by feral vampires, as if he would finally get some sense into the dragon and get his help. He was almost worried Bradley had managed to kill him, but dismissed that thought. Hohenheim was pretty much indestructible. His mentor would have to kill him himself, and that would be a battle for the ages.

Edward hummed. So the whole hunting Dragons thing a bit personal then. He wondered who this dragon was that Bradley wanted dead. To him it made perfect sense to find said dragon and ask. Sighing, he shook his head.

“You know a lot of people in Resembool didn't like that war. We lived really close to Ishval. sometimes we would see these people and their dragons. None of them ever bothered us. The worst thing to happen was a dragon taking off with someone's cow.” He huffed softly at that and glared down at Greed's chest, lightly digging his nails into the man’s chest. “Then the military came and there were people dying everywhere and between their explosives and the dragons it reshaped the countryside. I don't remember a whole lot since I was so small. I remember that the war killed Winry's parents though. We were so close to Ishval an they would help anyone who came to their door. Not just Amestrian soldiers.”

He took a deep breath and let out it out in a rush of annoyed air. Just like Greed, he didn’t like not knowing what was going on. How were they supposed to stop Bradly if they had no ideas for his plans?! “I don't like not knowing what Bradley's endgame is.”

Greed played with Edward’s hair idly. “I wasn’t really around when the whole thing was going on. I’ve been trying to keep out of my mentor’s way since I was kicked out so I could just raise Junjie without any trouble.” He huffed. “Anyway, we probably shouldn’t talk about this here.” He didn’t think anyone would be listening, but with Envy all up his ass Greed was cautious.

He bit his lip and asked, “What other memories would you like to see?”

Edward pouted a little, not liking that he didn't feel entirely safe in his own home away from home. Though truthfully the room at the barracks never had felt anything like home or a safe space anyway. He heeded Greed's warning, though and let out a low hum.

“I don't know. Anything you want to show me really,” a somewhat shy smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and he turned his face into Greed's chest. “I want to know as much about you as you'll let me."

 


 

 

It was a very lucky thing for Envy that Edward left his window open. They couldn't sneak in and do anything to the little pipsqueak, but they could hear the little conversation going on within. During the first half of the little steakout Envy thought they would hurl. They had practically been able to feel the pathetic emotions of affection and desire in every gasp and moan that left the Hunter's mouth. Oh and it had been even worse when the human their brother shared a body with came out to play. At least Greed had the sense to know his place and would have bent the hunter over for a good dicking rather than begging for one.

Disgusting.

Oh and then they took a shower together and were cuddled up in bed sharing stories and sweet nothings. Envy was just about to throw themself off the wall they had been clinging to and just go home. They would go home, tell Bradley that their brother was just being gross, and that would be the end of it. Except they had started talking about Xing and hunting. If nothing else that could be useful. So it kept Envy around.

And how lucky that was!

They started talking about dragons and Bradley. Anticipation rippled over their skin ad just as soon as they faded back to being sappy idiots, Envy flung themself from the wall. They landed gracefully on a lower building and the took off, back to Bradley to report their news.

 


 

 

Greed took a few moments to think about what he wanted to show Edward. He wanted to share more intimate parts of himself, and he let himself do it. He knew his weakness was craving affection and intimacy, but that wasn’t a crime. And if it was, Greed was never too against being an outlaw.

“What about some of the other human lovers I’ve had before,” he said, “There’s been quite a variety.”

It was easy to bring up these memories and let Edward see them.

 

Greed stepped in between the horse and his lover, Thaddeus. “You don’t have to do this,” he said.

Thaddeus’ smile looked gentle, even with his bulky form covered in iron and leather armor and a sword and shield over his back. His eyes turned down at the edges, the opposite of Greed’s, and they made a part of Greed melt when he looked into them. “This is something you’ll never understand, Greed,” he said, “As an immortal, you can’t comprehend giving up a life as short as ours for a greater purpose.”

Tears were forming in Greed’s eyes and he shook his head. “What greater purpose?” He asked, “This war, the last war, the next are just strokes on a canvas. You could die and nothing come of it.”

Thaddeus watched him with a sad smile. “And if I didn’t die, if I stayed with you for the next thirty years until age takes my life, would that not be another stroke on a canvas? Like many before and many to come?”

“But they would be so much more beautiful,” Greed choked out.

Thaddeus approached, and Greed backed up until his back touched the horse’s saddle. He stopped a foot away. “I must fight. For Rome. For my children. For your canvas and the many humans who will leave their strokes in the future.”

Greed stared at Thaddeus for a minute, until his vision blurred from the tears and he stepped aside to let him on his horse. Thaddeus leaned down from his mount and kissed Greed’s lips gently. When he pulled away, he was smiling. “Take care of Aemilia and the children,” he said.

“Of course,” Greed whispered.

When Thaddeus had ridden a few meters, he turned his horse to the side to shout, “Victory for Rome!”

Greed swallowed hard. “Victory for Rome.”

 

Rosetta had demanded the construction of a wall around her castle. It had taken a few weeks of hard work and hundreds of servants, but it had been done. Greed watched as she walked out into the night as soon as she had been told it was finished, still in her nightgown and slippers. He followed her as she strolled around the castle, examining every foot of the wall.

Eventually, she reached the end and looked at the construction overseers eagerly awaiting her judgment. “It’s uneven. I wanted a perfect circle. Go feed and rest your workers. In the morning, take it down. Do it again, right this time.”

Greed grinned while the overseers visibly collapsed on the inside. “Yes, Your Highness,” they said.

Greed approached her. “Is that really necessary?” He asked.

She turned to him, her big brown eyes earnest yet uncompromising. “Is perfection unnecessary?” She asked.

Greed could only smile and follow her when she walked back into her castle and wonder if this feeling was what humans called love.

 

Greed hadn’t fully grasped the language yet. He was very good at learning languages, but recently he had been spoiled by the fact that so many languages were branched off ancient languages Greed already knew. This one though, was a whole different root that Greed had never been exposed to before. He had been in this land before, but he had never really interacted with the nomadic tribes there. Now that he was courting a young man, though, he had to learn how to speak to him.

So far it had been easy enough. At least, when he lured the man into a clearing in the forest, somehow the man knew his intentions because Greed was soon toppled to the ground and attacked with kisses and love bites. The man was beautiful, and almost reminded him of the land to which he was native and the body he had inhabited before. High cheekbones, a tall stature, slim but hard musculature, long black hair and skin the color leaves in this area turned before winter. It was like home to Greed, but warmer, and not just the climate.

His name was Niyol, and he was unusually fond of Greed. The tribe wasn’t as fond of him, but Niyol paid them no mind and invited Greed to spend a night with him in his leather shelter. It wasn’t what the rest of the tribe slept in, but they wouldn’t allow Greed into their homes and so Niyol made a makeshift home for them.

Niyol was the kind to get what he wanted, and Greed didn’t have any qualms giving it to him, even when it wasn’t what he was used to, such as a position during sex. When Niyol brought out the oil, he had been expecting Niyol to prepare himself or ask Greed to prepare him, but instead he had stuck a finger in Greed’s ass, then another. Soon enough Greed was on his hands and knees and cussing in a language Niyol didn’t understand while Niyol pounded relentlessly into him.

“Do you like it?” Niyol asked breathlessly, “Tell me you like it!”

“God fucking dammit,” Greed managed to get out even while his voice was compromised.

 

Niyol laughed. “In my language! Do you want me to stop?”

Greed made some sort of noise and made himself focus. It was fucking hard with the amount of intensity he was feeling. “No, don’t stop,” he finally said in Niyol’s language, “It’s really good. Really good.” Fuck, he didn’t have the words in that tongue to describe how good it felt. “Why the fuck haven’t I done this before,” he continued even though Niyol wouldn’t understand.

He came harder than he had ever done before that night.

 

Greed chuckled. “Want me to keep going?” He asked.

“Whoo! Gimme a minute,” Edward replied as he took a minute to try and wrangle all the emotions inside his head.

In these thralls he could feel the ghosts of Greed's emotions as well as his own. And Greed’s feelings when it came to his lovers proved to be some very strong spirits. Through all the love Ed had felt admiration for Thadeas, a little jealousy for the others. Especially Rosetta. Though he had only seen a little of her he had decided he didn't like her very much. A wall was a damn wall! Was she really going to make them rebuild the whole thing again?

Then there had been Niyol and that had been something. Between him and the nameless nomad Ed had felt himself get just a little overheated and squirmy with the residual lust from the memories. If he had been alone he may have touched himself done some experimental prodding in uncharted territory to see if it really felt so good as it looked like it did. Instead he tried to tuck that away for later and focused on another question he had.

“All these people.. couldn't you have changed them? If you loved them so much didn't you want them with you forever? Or.. did they not want it,” he asked quietly, just a little worried about making Greed upset.

Greed hummed. “At first I wanted to,” he said, “The pain of losing one of them was too much for me, and… I won’t show you that because it’s too sad. But I begged them to let me turn them. They all said no. I understand, because being a vampire has never been easy. My life has been different because I’m powerful and I come from a powerful family, but most don’t live as long as me and they don’t live as well. And… giving up family and religion and the promise of an afterlife and a community where you feel safe, most aren’t willing to do that. And after a while I stopped asking that of them. I learned that part of why I kept falling for humans was that they were human, with all of the strengths and weaknesses that brought. I was happy to love them for all of their lives and then after they were gone too. There were some that wanted me to turn them, but they were typically young, and when they got older they changed their minds and thanked me that I didn’t do it.”

That sounded so sad, to Edward. Maybe because, for that moment, Greed reminded him of his mother. He stayed quiet for a moment, rubbing his cheek idly against Greed's chest in thought. But, being as young as he was, he could see the appeal. Especially if you were in love.

What small taste of it he had, and really his feelings were more like an intense affection at the moment, scrambled his senses. Sharing tender, quiet moments with Greed made him wonder why it was so important to uncover Bradley's plots or even hunt in general when he could lay in bed and just enjoy it. But then affection and love had a funny way of making everything else fade away. Later on when he didn't have Greed and Ling to ensnare him, simply with their presence, he would be far more inclined to seeing the praises of common sense.

“Are you showing me all this because you're worried we won't ah.. make it so far as you showing me the world,” he asked, just the barest hint of playfulness in his voice as he tried to avoid voicing their plans again. He really wanted to know though. And if it were to come down to it would he accept death as an option or would he ask Greed to change him?

Greed opened his mouth in surprise. He hadn’t really thought about that. “No,” he said honestly, “I’m showing you because it’s another way for me to share myself with you. I guess I have this desire to be understood that doesn’t really get fulfilled enough.” He smiled a little. “And memories don’t hold a candle to the real thing.”

Edward smiled at that and hummed. It was a good answer. He didn't want the vampire thinking like they were going to die. It made it so much more likely that they would in his opinion.

“Well good! Because I fully intend for you to show me some of this stuff in person!!” He glanced up at the vampire and smiled. Reaching up, he ran the backs of his fingers over one of his cheeks. “I’ve never really felt all that well understood either, you know,” he said, cupping Greed's jaw and smoothing his thumb over his cheek bone. No one ever understood why someone so young would want to spend his youth learning all he could about beasts and monsters. “It’s one thing to hunt. Everyone in Resembool is rather proud to say I came from there. But it's different when you don't see the point in doing a lot of the things most people think someone my age should be doing.”

“As they see it. I have a good job, my whole life ahead of me. Why aren't I trying to settle down with someone? Pop out some kids that are proud to say their daddy is the second youngest hunter in central… but there just always seemed to be something more important to do. And all the girls like that I'm a hunter but very few appreciate that I'm so bookish,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “I just kinda said fuck it anyway. All I need is my brother and my dog but… there are ways that lovers understand each other. That’s different, isn't it,” he said softly.

Greed couldn’t help but smile at Edward’s affection, and he turned his head a bit to kiss Edward’s thumb. “It’s also because of the culture you live in,” he said, “In another context, being a scholar could be what makes you honorable to others. But yeah, there’s something different about being with someone like this.”

He slid his hands through Edward’s hair to the back of his head and pulled him down into a kiss. Once again he was struck with how lucky he was to be here. He had a feeling that things weren’t going to be easy, especially in the coming weeks. But he would savor every moment they had together like this, to just be with each other and not worry about anything else.

Edward smiled and let himself be pulled up into the kiss, feeling comfortably limp against the vampire. For the first time he truly thought about how happy he was to have run into Greed that night. Everything about being with the vampire was absolutely lovely in a way he had never really felt before. No matter what the future held for them, he was determined not to let it slip away.

Chapter Text

Not for the first time, Envy lamented the modern architecture of Amestris. The decor within was no better. Say what you would, about the trials and tribulations of yesteryear, everything was just far more grand and lent itself to their theatrics. There wasn’t anything nearly as fun about bursting into Bradley’s office and settling themself on the man’s desk when they could compare it to storming into a throne room and draping themselves over the arm of Father’s throne.

“I know something you don’t know. Wanna know?” Envy asked, leaning into Bradley’s space for a moment before leaning back. Planting their hands firmly on the desk they lifted their legs up onto the desk as well and folded them under themself. “The Little Red Pipsqueak is awfully interested in you and the Ishvalan war. And he has our dear brother wrapped around his little finger.”

The Vampire curled their lip at that and leaned back until they were dangling half off the desk and watching the rest of the office upside down, hair just kissing the floor. “What is his fascination with humans of all things?”

Despite what they’d said about the general style of the era in which they lived, it was hideously comfortable. Especially compared to all the places that they stayed before. No palace or castle, no matter how nice, could compare to indoor plumbing or the plush furniture of the well-off. It may not all have been as glamorous as Envy would have liked. But it was a damn sight better than the barracks of all places. How was Greed the Avaricious actually content to bed down in such a pathetic little cot in something that couldn’t even be called a cracker box? It was annoying! Envy wasn’t jealous of the type of affection that Edward was getting from their brother. No, it was more like the way a child might feel and behave when a new baby was brought home. He wanted to pillage cities and have fun with his brother again. The new Greed was absolutely boring.

“I think it would be worth bringing Edward in for a little chat, don’t you?” they finally said, sitting up again to look at Bradley with their head cocked to the side. “The only real issue would be keeping his brother and Greed busy for a while. Once we get him under ground it would be near impossible for them to find him!”

Wrath sat back in his chair and sighed, letting Envy mess up his papers and generally be an annoyance. When Envy was finished and asked him about taking Edward, he finally opened his eyes and regarded his sibling.

He wasn’t surprised to find that Greed had partnered up with Edward Elric.

“I think you’re a bit obsessed with the human, Envy,” he said, “You cornered him to interrogate him, and suggest we take him in, but you don’t mention Greed. Remember, Edward Elric is merely a human. He cannot do anything to us.” Wrath began to fix the papers Envy messed up on his desk. “What he convinces Greed to do on his behalf is more concerning. Especially since the addition of the other human. If we are to do anything, we must get Greed and Edward Elric. Separately. But we cannot act impulsively.”

Envy pouted, though their version of a pout was more of a snarl, as they hopped off Bradley's desk. They were not obsessed with the human! They were just obsessed with what that human was doing to their brother. And what trouble that human could cause just because their brother liked it.

“If Greed could do anything on his own he would have by now! And you know how he is with his toys,” the vampire put their hands on their hips and glared. “He wouldn't do a damn thing if he though they might be hurt. So why are you worried about Blondie convincing him to do anything,” Envy asked, not particularly liking that they weren't getting their way.

“Anything he has going on he might have told his little boytoy. And if you want to get your hands on Greed, getting the runt is the best way to do it,” they declared. Why exactly wasn't them taking Edward Elric would be a terribly bad thing? Personally, they thought that their brother was being too lenient. “What would you have us do anyway?”

Wrath adjusted his glasses while he thought. Envy had a point that Greed had probably told Edward Elric what his plans were, at least some of them. And that if they wanted to capture Greed, taking Edward was the easiest way to lure him. “I disagree that Greed would have done something by now if he was so inclined,” he said, “It was only recently that he left the coven, right? After that, it’s my understanding that he had a child to care for and wanted to avoid Father’s line of fire. Now that Greed has two new humans occupying his mind — humans who are both ambitious — I think he is more likely now than ever to turn against us. I think we need to tread carefully.”

Pride emerged from the shadows of Wrath’s office and sat down on the couch. He had overheard Envy’s tantrum and decided to drop in. “I agree with Wrath,” he said, “At least that we should take them both. But we shouldn’t let Greed know we took Edward. Father hasn’t found Hoenheim yet, and we can’t afford Greed throwing a wrench into our dealings because we played with his toy while he wasn’t looking.”

“It would be difficult to capture Greed without luring him in,” Wrath argued, “Would he be convinced if we told him we had captured Edward Elric to get him underground, and then tell him that it was a lie once he had been captured?”

“Do you really think Hoenheim is going to be a problem,” Envy asked, pacing from the couch, back to the desk. They had too much energy to just sit and talk. “Greed may have had other things to preoccupy his time since he left us. And I know that the old lizard wants Father dead. But we haven’t seen spike nor scale of the thing in decades! Besides I doubt dealing with Elric and Greed would get in the way of Father’s search.” Hoenheim was a constant but not immediate problem. Not like the strange little trio that Greed, Ling, and Edward made.

“I agree with Wrath, or Fuhrer Bradley if you prefer,” Lust said, watching the others from where she was propped up against the doorframe. She chuckled at her own little tease and slunk into the room before neatly sitting on the opposite end of the couch from Pride. “It would be too risky to try and kidnap Greed without actually having Edward in our hands,” she said, leaning her elbow into the arm of the couch and then cupping her chin in her palm. “There are too many ways he could find out we were lying. What we need to do is distract Edward’s brother and Greed long enough to get our hands on the adorable little blonde.”

“She’s right,” Envy said eagerly, grinning wide as they went to stand by Lust. “We could scatter some attacks, arrange for some of the more replaceable members of our covens to get raided. Send dear Alphonse’s team to deal with that.” It should keep him out of their hair for a few days.

Lust hummed. “But what will we distract our dear brother with? Even if he cares for his human I don’t think he’d just leave him alone to protect his little brother,” Lust mused in her low, sensual voice. “Does the other human have anything important enough to him that he’d leave Edward alone to go attend to?”

“Thanks to Envy, Greed has already been fooled once by using Alphonse Elric as a distraction, and I don’t think he’d fall for it again,” Wrath said, picking up a pen on his desk to twirl between his fingers, “And I don’t know much about the other human. He was the son of a Xingese emperor and a skilled vampire hunter, that is all I know.”

“I still think it’s unwise to use Edward as a lure,” Pride said, “You’ve seen Greed go berserk. I personally don’t want to deal with that. We could corner Greed and tell him that Father wishes to speak to him.”

“He wouldn’t fall for that,” Wrath said, then set down his pen. “I will take care of Greed.”

“You’ll kill him,” Pride said, turning to stare at him.

“I am capable of taking a captive. And if I happen to kill him instead, then so be it. Envy,” He turned to look at them, “Since your attention is so trained on Edward Elric at the moment, you can capture him. Bring him to a cell, but separate from the other cattle. Keep him in one piece, and practice restraint with your thrall until the actual interrogation. I know you are fond of torture, but you won’t get information if the human has passed out from pain.”

Envy grinned and stuck their tongue out at Pride, happy that something close to their plan was being put into motion. They were a little put out by being told to be careful. They wouldn't kill the kid. And if Wrath did his part right then what would it matter if the pipsqueak passed out a couple of times. Oh well. Wrath didn't say anything about hurting Ed without using his thrall.

“Cross my heart,” they said mockingly, dragging their fingertip in an x over the left side of their chest. “You just let me know when I can get a hold of Elric without Greed ripping off my arms and I'll pick up Blondie,” they said happily while List yawned boredly behind them.

Wrath nodded. “I will send for you when it’s time. For now, I have work to be doing, so please leave.”

 


 

 

It wasn’t difficult to find Greed. He was usually following the Elrics, after all. Wrath climbed onto the rooftop when Greed turned to stare incredulously at him.

“Hah?” Greed exclaimed while he stood up to face Wrath. “What do you want?”

“Father wants to see you,” Wrath said, “Come with me.”

Greed startled and stepped back. “What? Why? I’m not going! Fuck you!”

Wrath drew his swords. “You will come with me, willing or not.”

He could see that Greed was reconsidering. Wrath had to give him credit. He was reckless and passion-driven, but he was smart. Unarmed except for probably some small knife, he was defenseless. “What does Daddy want with me this time?” Greed asked.

“I don’t know. Most likely he wants to threaten you regarding your newest pet.”

Greed was silent for a moment, but then sighed. “Fine, I’ll go.”

Wrath kept his swords unsheathed while he followed Greed underground, expecting him to make a run for it as soon as he could. In fact, nearly a minute later, Greed darted toward a nearby alleyway. Wrath was prepared, and dropped his swords to catch him and tie his hands behind his back with a strong cord. He then shoved Greed to the ground and tied his feet to his hands, leaving enough of a length to drag him from. When he got tired of Greed’s incessant cursing, he took the sash around Greed’s waist and put it between Greed’s teeth and tied it around his head.

Greed yelled in anger the whole way to the chamber, but Wrath didn’t say a word. The chamber was a large, cavernous room underground. Wrath hadn’t really been taking Greed to Father, and he was soon realizing this by the look in his eyes while Wrath untied his feet from his hands only to tie both feet to another strong cord hanging from the ceiling. He pulled the cord until Greed was about a meter from the tall ceiling, then tied it to the hook on the wall.

“Pride,” Wrath said. The vampire slid out from the shadows. “Tell the others I’ve captured Greed.”

Chapter Text

Envy was antsy. They had been bouncing around the city, keeping an eye on hunter teams and trying to make sure that the Elrics didn't get too close to each other. They had a few underlings out, causing trouble and keeping the other hunters busy. Slowly but surely any hunters that Envy felt they needed to worry about were led away from Edward. They had made their way back to a building overlooking the blond hunter not long after Wrath caught Greed. The androgynous vampire was practically salivating with excitement as they watched their prey. They had been working on a very special thrall for him. So, when Pride slipped out of the shadows like the little creep he was to tell them Wrath had Greed, they practically threw themselves off the building.

Edward was without his dog stain, thank goodness. Envy landed near silently behind him and he didn't even turn around. The thrall they activated was very gentle, especially compared to what they usually did. Thralls were all about tweaking the brain and Envy had done a lot of experimentation with that. Similar to the way that Greed could share his memories Envy could generally make their victims see whatever they wanted!

That was just a lot less fun than using his thrall to hurt people.

Of course, if things went well, that would be the most painful part of this experience for Edward! Speaking of, the hunter must have felt their thrall. They had tried to be light handed with it but being with Greed and letting him put him under must have helped Ed develop a sensitivity to it. He started to turn, a frown on his face and Envy quickly tried to paint the illusion of Alphonse to lay over themself.

“Al,” Edward said, sounding confused. That was natural. The thrall was supposed to make him a little fuzzy headed and his brother wasn’t supposed to be there after all. “What are you doing over here? Did something happen?”

“Yeah! They sent me to come get you,” Envy said, trying to remain as vague as possible. Things fell apart if you left to many loose ends to get pulled. “Just come with me.” But Edward wasn’t moving. He was just staring at Envy, frowning as his head very slowly bobbed up and down, taking him in. That wasn’t good. “Edward! Come on! They captured Greed. He needs your help.”

Apparently that was the wrong thing because Edward took a rather heavy step back, face pulled into a scowl. Oh well!!! That just meant Envy got to do things the fun way.

“You’re not Al--Agh,” Edward let out a shout of pain as Envy released their first thrall and latched on with the one they preferred.

“Well that was fun, wasn’t it,” Envy asked while Edward glared at them. He hadn’t tried to move yet but they weren’t sure how long that would last. Their thrall hadn’t kept him entirely still before. “Now I’m still going to need you to come with me! You and I need to have a little chat!”

That did it! Envy could practically see the pain rippling through the hunter as he forced himself to reach for his gun. The pain made his movements clumsy and slow compared to what they would normally be, though. It was easy enough to rush forward and grab the young man’s wrist so that when he fired the weapon it shot into the air. Envy squeezed tightly, only to be met with unyielding metal and now the delicious crunch of bones under their hand. Wasn’t that nifty? Lifting Ed into the air by his wrist, they drove their fist into Edward’s solar plexus and watched as he went limp, gasping for air.

“Sorry about that. It was brutish, wasn’t it,” Envy said, not sounding very sorry at all as they dropped Edward to the ground and then snatched up a good fistful of hair. They dragged Edward off the sidewalk as he struggled to get his breath back. Aside from those gasping breaths the night was still, the only light coming from a lamp down at the corner of the street. There was no one at all around to watch Envy lift a manhole cover and toss it carelessly to the side.

“Let me go… You sorry.. Piece of shit,” Edward gasped, letting out another strangled noise as Envy lifted him up by his hair so they could look him in the face. “Bet you wouldn’t win so easy in a fair fight,” he snapped, lifting shaky hands to grab onto Envy’s wrist.

That was a little impressive. The fact that he could push against his thrall so much said something about the hunter’s strength. At least if Greed had to go and be obsessed with a human it was one that stood out from the rest.

“Well then why would I fight fair,” Envy asked, curling arn arm around Edward’s waist and pulling him close. “The only people who care about fighting with honor or fighting fair are foolish men with morals. Luckily I’m not one of those,” Envy said with a laugh before hopping down into the sewers with Edward in his arms.

From there it was just a matter of dragging him to the cell that they had set up for him. Envy had done as asked and made sure it was separate from the other cattle. They did hope it was close enough to the one where Wrath had Greed that he’d be able to hear as he worked the shrimp over, though. The walk wasn’t too long but Ed seemed to be trying to at least pace himself, keeping quiet as he was hauled through the tunnels under Central like a sack of potatoes. Envy made sure to walk past at least a few cells packed full of terrified cattle. Sometimes they just liked to take a stroll past the cells of the freshly branded and listen to their fearful whimpers and cries. Their sobs were the sweetest of music to Envy but they preferred to feed off the ones that still had some sort of hope. It was all the more delightful watching that drain from their eyes over time.

When they reached Edward’s cell, Envy kicked open the door and then threw the blonde in, not bothering with any sort of binding. Why would they be scared of a mere human? Still, the first thing they did, after closing the door, was remove that pesky automail arm that they’d felt earlier. They released the painful thrall and as Edward was trying to pull himself up off the ground and get his wits about him Envy planted their foot in the hunter’s back and shoved him back to the ground. They were surprisingly heavy for someone so slim.

“First off we’ll be getting rid of this,” Envy said cheerfully, grabbing a hold of Ed’s wrist. The first bit of fear entered the blonde’s eyes and it was absolutely delicious. He scrambled at his shoulder, uselessly pawing at his red coat and the dark shirt underneath to try and get to his automail.

If he could just disconnect it himself before Envy did what he thought they were going to do it wouldn’t hurt so bad! Fuck why was he wearing so many layers? Too late. Pain radiated from his shoulder as Envy started to yank at his arm. It wouldn’t have been that bad at all if not for the fact that it was still very well connected to to the port. As such, pulling at his arm was making the entire port yank at where it met flesh. He cried out in pain as he was held to the floor, the foot on his back making it hard to breath. With each yank his cries got a little louder until he let out one that was just pure relief as his arm finally broke and was ripped away, thrown across the room with a dull thunk.

Edward trembled, feeling some very concerning dampness around his shoulder that had his shirt sticking to the skin around his port. He didn’t think that Envy had taken his entire arm but most of it at least.

“There! Now do you have anything else I should be concerned about,” Envy asked, stepping off of him and then hooking their toes under his side and flipping him onto his back. It left Edward staring up at a stone ceiling with rather poor lighting shining down on them for a moment before Envy’s face filled his vision.

The monster grinned at him, bright and cheery before putting a foot on either side of his hips and dropping down to take a seat. Their first thrall was gone, leaving very little pain but more of an icy, burning numbness. Edward hated these fucking city vampires. Their mind tricks just weren’t fair! Snarling up at his captor he curled his remaining hand into a fist and swung it at Envy’s face. Not that it got that far. The vampire caught his hand and chuckled.

“Ooh So feisty. I guess I can see the appeal of keeping you as a pet,” Envy conceded squeezing Edward’s wrist tightly. As his bones ground together the vampire drew in a breath and then sighed happily, their thighs flexing and making their knees squeeze on either side of Ed’s body. “My brother Wrath seems to think we have reason to worry about you and Greed. Why exactly are you so curious about the Ishvalan war and why Fuhrer Bradley wanted the dragons hunted down?”

Edward keened in pain and started to squirm, trying to get his feet under him so maybe he could buck Envy off. Envy was so damn heavy, though! His struggles made the vampire chuckle and squeeze his wrist harder. He felt a popping sensation and pain radiating from his wrist as the bones broke. At least Envy dropped his arm but really, Edward would have rather dealt with that pain than the sensation of having the vampire slip their hands under the tail of his shirt and start pushing it up his chest in the mockery of a lover’s caress.

“I think you’d better start talking soon! Your good looks aren’t going to save you for long,” Envy taunted, curling their hand into Ed’s shirt and ripping through it once he had gathered it all up to his neck.

“Awe you think I’m good looking,” Edward panted, curling his arm protectively toward his body. There was a bit of his Automail left that twitched along with the thought of cradling his broken wrist in his other arm. Its splintered, broken end was just visible through the ripped away sleeve of his coat. “I’m flattered.”

“OH I think you’re very pretty,” Envy said lowly, putting their hand under Ed’s jaw and shoving his chin up so that they could bury their nose in his neck. He shuddered as the vampire’s tongue lapped over his skin. “Not very smart, though. Mouthing off like that.”

They used their thrall on him then, making Edward let out a scream of pain. It felt like he was getting nailed to the floor, points of intense pain flaring up in his joints and pulsing. It was like someone had driven nails through his hips, shoulders, and elbows, and was hammering them into the ground. Envy scooted down his body. Undoing his holster and tossing it to the side and then going for his belt. Even with the pain a shot of panic made Ed jerk up and kick Envy in the face.

It made the vampire yelp, wether in surprise or pain, Edward didn’t know but the screech of rage was impossible to misinterpret, especially when he felt felt a foot connect solidly with his ribs. The kick sent him rolling across the floor a little ways and Edward let out a groan of pain as he curled up around himself.

“Start talking pipsqueak or I’m going to get angry,” Envy snarled from behind him. “Did you actually think I was going to rape you?” they asked shrilly. “I’m not my brother. I would never stoop so low as to bed some patheic thing like you! It would be like sleeping with a dog,” they declared.

“D-Don’t know what you want me to s-say,” Edward said through labored breaths, feeling pain that didn’t have anything to do with the thrall throbbing through his body. “We were just talking about the differences between how dragons are treated in Xing and Amestris and they rarely bothered anyone so I wondered why Bradley wanted them hunted down,” he insisted, trying to push himself up with his elbow. “Why don’t we talk about why you were spying on us. Isn’t it kind of weird to watch your brother and his boyfriend fooling around?”

Envy made a noise of annoyance before grabbing a hold of Edward’s leg and using it so he could swing the human over their head and slam him into the ground. He cried out in pain, trying to curl in on himself. Envy pressed their foot into Edward’s thigh, just above his port, and started to bend the automail leg in the wrong direction until it broke off.

“Do you think you’re funny!? What are you and my brother planning with that sneaky little Xingese rat,” Envy bellowed in annoyance. They curled their hand into Edward’s hair and hauled up him up to eye level. He felt absolutely useless. None of this was fair! He could fight vampires in the country. They didn’t have thralls to keep him still and in pain until he was back to being down an arm and leg. “Now you listen to me. I’m not supposed to kill you but I can make you wish you were dead. We have a good thing going here, me and my siblings, and we want to know how exactly you plan to try and screw it up!”

“You’re nothing but bullies,” Edward snarled, kicking uselessly at Envy with his remaining leg. “You look down on us and use your powers to terrorize us. To you we’re like rats but that’s fine,” Edward said with a bloody toothed snarl. There were scrapes on his cheek from where his face had hit the ground and at some point he’d busted his lip, leaving blood to trickle down his chin. “You’re never going to get the best of us. There are just too fucking many humans for you to get rid of us entirely! Each generation builds upon the one before it! And before long your cowardly way of life, hiding in the shadows and feeding off humans that you keep like cattle, will be obsolete!”

Envy had been growling lowly through Edward’s whole speech but then it soon turned into laughter and they smirked at the hunter before putting their arm around his waist, much like before, and hugging him to their body. The first thing they did was cradle the back of Edward’s head in their hand and lapped over their chin, licking up the blood that had oozed from his mouth.

“You really think that’s true. How cute,” they crooned before sniffing at his throat and dragging his tongue along the length of his jugular. “You humans are weak. It doesn’t matter how many of you there are, or how quickly you breed. We will always be your betters. Even the mangy wolves and prissy little fairies outrank you filthy lot. Do you really think that you and my brother can make a difference in the inevitable end of our race. Don’t get me wrong. We’ll keep you alive. You’re our food. But you won’t be going around with near the amount of freedom you once had,” they said, not seeming to realize or care their slip up in letting Ed in on even a little of what the vampires might be working toward. “And if you won’t talk for now, that’s fine. We have time. And I can always play with you some and mess with my brother.”

Wrath would probably be angry about it later on but they bit into Edward’s neck, not bothering to try and make it feel good. Edward thrashed in their arms and screamed in pain as their fangs tore into his neck. After the little taste they’d gotten from his split lip they just couldn’t help themselves. No onder Greed didn’t want to share. The vampire at least had the presence of mind to not drain him entirely. Though he did suck at the hunter’s neck until his cries and struggling died down to quiet whimpers and he went still. Humming softly, Envy leaned back, licking over Edward’s neck just enough to keep him from bleeding out before letting him drop to the floor. The ragged looking bite on his neck would certainly scar.

“I hope more than anything that dear Greed heard all that noise you’ve been making and that it makes him sick to hear your squeals when he finally gets around to fucking you. I bet you sound a lot like you sound a lot like you’re dying when you’re getting plowed like a field in spring! I certainly hope so. Your screams are delightful!”

Chapter Text

Junjie had been with a coven in the West when Greed’s message arrived asking for their help with taking down Gramps. It had taken him a week or so to arrive in Central City, but he eventually made it.

And it was just in time too, apparently, because he heard the very familiar angry cussing of his father from half a mile away and was able to watch from the shadows as his uncle Wrath took his father hostage. Or probably not hostage, probably just to fuck with.

He watched until Wrath disappeared into a sewer before turning back and heading to his parents’ apartment.

“Mom!” He yelled as soon as he closed the door and turned on the light, “Mom! Mooom!” He flung open the door to his parents’ bedroom and turned on the light while Elodie sat up and rubbed his eyes.

“Junjie?” Elodie asked with tired confusion.

“Dad’s been compromised,” he said in a low and gruff tone, “Let’s go.”

Elodie stretched and yawned just as the door behind him opened and two extremely large men peered out. “Junjie? What’s going on?”

“Heinkel, Darius,” Junjie greeted, back to his normal voice, “I just got here and saw one of my uncles dragging dad into a sewer.”

“Oh dear,” Heinkel said, “Give us a minute to get dressed.”

Junjie raided the fridge while he waited, and by the time Elodie and the werewolves had emerged from their rooms, he had filled up on fruits and cheese.

“Are you really wearing that to a heist?” Junjie complained at Elodie.

Even though Junjie had more fairy characteristics than vampire ones, he definitely took after his father in personality and fashion sense. While Elodie wore a casual loose suit with a belted coat, Junjie wore his usual skin-tight black pants, boots, and a black leather jacket. Elodie looked down at his outfit and then back up at Junjie.

“At least change your hair,” Junjie said.

Elodie sighed and charmed his hair to a natural-looking blonde color rather than the pastel pink it usually was.

“There we go,” Junjie said before chugging the rest of his glass of milk and slamming it down on the counter and put on his gruff voice again. “Let’s go bust him out.”

 


 

“There are some things you should know,” Elodie said quietly on the way, “Greed has a new human pet.”

Junjie grimaced. “Mom, how many times do I have to tell you not to say it like that, it sounds kinky. Unless it is kinky… why are you telling me this? I don’t wanna know!”

Elodie scoffed. “He has a new lover.”

“Better, but still tacky,” Junjie said, “Just say he’s got a… boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever.”

“He’s got a new boyfriend, as of three weeks ago. He’s a young vampire hunter, about your height, long blond hair.”

Junjie nodded. He was used to his dad dating, though now he was getting closer in age to his dad so it got weird sometimes. But they were a weird family.

“Anyway,” Elodie continued, “I’m telling you this because they might have taken him too. Envy has already cornered him once.”

“Why?” Junjie asked.

Elodie lowered his voice even more. “Edward’s involved in the stuff that I think brought you here tonight.”

Junjie hummed and nodded. So that’s what was going on. “So if I see a short blond twink while I’m down there, take him, right? His name’s Edward?”

“Yes,” Elodie said, “Edward Elric.”

They split up once they were in the sewers. Junjie had never been down there before, but he could follow his fairy senses toward where living bodies were congregated. He climbed through messy tunnels and and dank hallways until he reached a door that hid many humans. He charmed himself invisible and slipped into the room, only for his nose to be assaulted by the stench of unwashed people and fear pheromones. He gagged. This must be the blood cattle his dad mentioned.

The next thing he noticed was the screaming from the other side of the long corridor of cells containing miserable humans. Junjie grabbed the nearest cell bars and climbed on top of the cage-like cells. He was charmed so that he made no shadow or sound, but he didn’t want to risk being found. As he slowly crawled toward the commotion, he began to pick up the specifics. It was a human and a vampire, and the human was arguing (very strained it seemed) about how humans were superior. When the vampire mentioned mangy werewolves and prissy fairies, Junjie’s tail flicked. That had to be a reference to his dad. Then the vampire mentioned his brother, and Junjie was sure he had found Edward Elric.

More screamed ensued, and Junjie winced. His dad was going to so pissed off. Then the vampire made that snide comment about wishing Greed thought about those screams when having sex with Edward in the future and — first of all, gross — second of all, was this vampire a virgin or something? Or had all their sex been so absolutely terrible to be accompanied by sounds like that?

That tantrum sounded like a complex to Junjie. The bitch was so upset about Greed having a favorite. Maybe this was Envy. It would fit all the stories his dad had told him about Envy before.

He couldn’t stand it anymore. He knew his dad would be pissed if he knew what Junjie was about to do, but fuck it. He was one hundred and fifty three fucking years old. He snorted and laughed, and he made the sound come from the other side of the corridor. He loved being part fairy for his magic.

“What?” He said, “I’m sorry, does all your sex sound like someone is dying? Your dick game must be weak as hell.”

Hopefully, Envy (if that was indeed the vampire) would hear him from the other side of the corridor and go looking for him. He projected a phantom clone of himself on the other side of the corridor. The clone would taunt and evade Envy and lead him away for as long as Envy fell for it. Classic fairy move, but to his understanding, these vampires knew nothing about fairies. Bitch is gonna get psyched, Junjie thought with a grin.

Envy’s head whipped around at the sound of a new and very unwanted voice. Apparently their brother had a few more friends than they had counted on, damn it. Curling their lip into a little snarl they went and threw open the door. Across the corridor there was someone even shorter than the little pipsqueak under their care who dressed very much like their brother taunting them.

“Oh the sounds my lovers make have very little to do with my dick and more to do with anything else I'm jabbing into them at the time,” Envy said with a morbid cheerfulness. Really they had more fun hurting people than giving them any sort of pleasure so they weren’t totally lying. With a laugh they lunged across the hall and taking a swipe at the younger creature, which he evaded. “You must be the little mutt my brother sired! Oh this should be fun. Did you come to meet your new mommy? I don't think you're too late. Little rest and he should be right as rain!”

When the little abomination dodged out of their way Envy followed, refusing to believe some little fairy hybrid would be able to outdo them. And it wasn't as though Edward was going to be going anywhere for the time being. Really it would be a miracle if he was awake.

 


 

Now, it was really no one's fault that Alphonse was above ground and panicking. Junjie didn't know about him so he wouldn't have felt the need to inform him of their rescue attempts. However, a fellow hunter had passed along word that Edward had failed to meet them back at their rendezvous point. Which had lead to the younger Elric abandoning his team, despite the team leader’s protests. As soon as he got back to the barracks the young hunter had spread out a map over his bed and grabbed a crystal pendulum off his desk.

He hadn't been lying before about needing ingredients for a spell the day they met Ling in the market. It was a tracking spell he had been trying to work on. The hardest part was finding something that his brother always carried with him and then getting it away long enough to put a spell on it.

Al had managed to steal and enchant his coat though, linking it to the map and the pendulum. With Sasha whimpering at his knee, Al swung the crystal in a loose circle until it was pulled to a very specific part of the map. It was telling him he was under one of the government labs. He memoized where it was but still folded up the map and stuffed it, along with the pendulum into his coat pocket before rushing out the door again.

 


 

 

When Envy had turned the corner following his clone, Junjie crawled over to the cell they had left and hung over the side of it to look inside. “Psst! Hey!” He whispered.

Edward looked rough. He was laying in a pool of blood, and it looked like two of his limbs had been torn off. “What the fuck,” Junjie breathed and climbed into the cell.

He had been practicing medicinal magic for a while, but it was far from perfect. Fairies were meant to be tricksters, and not as much doctors. However, Junjie had been trained as a human doctor, so he knew a decent amount. He rubbed his hands together and put them a few inches from Edward’s body, trying to sense his energy. When he found the sources of blood, Junjie used his secondary venom to close the wounds. His missing arm and leg seemed to be automail, thankfully. That wasn’t going to kill him.

Junjie hesitated before his next act. He had done it plenty of times on humans after feeding on them, but it was something he had created himself with the combination of thrall and magic and this was a bit nerve-wracking, to do it on his dad’s boyfriend. Still, he took a deep breath and put his hands over Edward’s heart and closed his eyes. He started to pump his hands in time to Edward’s heartbeat, then sped up, urging his heart to do the same, and urging his bones and his digestive tracts to produce more blood to replace that which had been lost. Once he could feel the blood flowing at a normal human capacity, he slowed down his hands and then stopped and released his magic.

He did another once-over to make sure that Edward’s physical health was barely acceptable, then put his hands on Edward’s cheeks and used his thrall to force Edward into consciousness. “Hey,” he whispered, patting Edward’s cheek, “Wake up. Naptime’s over.”

As Edward slowly woke up, Junjie addressed his broken wrist. He hummed in thought before using his magic to grow a plant in the stone floor with a sturdy enough stem to use as a splint and long and tough enough leaves to bind the stem to Edward’s wrist. His plants were never as pretty as Elodie’s, they tended to be red or some other toxic-looking color and shape, but other than that they were no different than any other plant.

It was a good thing Edward woke slowly otherwise he probably would have woken up swinging, broken wrist or no. The fact that he could somewhat recognize Junjie helped too. After all, he had met both the young man's parents and seen him as a baby through Greed's memories. Still, the face slapping was annoying. He grunted at him but let him deal with his broken wrist. He felt mildly better than before, still exhausted and in pain, though.

“Junjie,” he said quietly, a slight question to his voice. “You really are tiny,” he grumbled very slowly using his elbow to lever himself up when Junjie was done with his hand. “Does Greed know you’re here? Where did Envy go?” What was left of his automail twitched and clicked as he thought of getting up. He hated being left without his arm and leg. He felt fucking useless.

Junjie was surprised when Edward said his name, but then it went out the window at that jab at his height and he pointed an accusatory finger at Edward, ignoring what else Edward said. “Fuck you, buddy, I just brought your dwarf-ass back from the gates of Hell. I just fought Satan myself.” He moved next to Edward to help him stand, then picked him up and (gently) placed him over his shoulder while he finally answered Edward’s questions. “Dad doesn’t know shit, Mom and Heinkel and Darius are looking for him. You know, when Mom told me you were my height I thought we would have an alliance. A pact, between runts, punching up from below like some kind of underdog team. I’m so fucking betrayed right now.”

He paused in his rant before leaving the cell to glance at the automail on the floor. “Hey, do you need those?” He asked.

“Well your dad happens to like my dwarf ass so I'm sure he will be thankful you managed to save that much of me,” Ed grunted, letting himself be helped up and then lain over Junjie’s shoulder. At least he was being nice about it. It wasn't like they had any other option at the moment. When he asked about the automail, though, he sighed. “i will totally stand with you against the tall folks but I mean come on. You are shorter than me. Let me be excited. And just leave that… Winry is going to fucking kill me,” he groaned.

Junjie charmed them both invisible and soundless to others and stepped out into the corridor, doing his best marching band glide to get them quickly away without jolting Edward around too much. “I will absolutely not let you be excited,” Junjie said, “Do you really want to get on my bad side? I could make your life hell and neither you nor Dad would know it was me. I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Comando Raggruppamento Subacquei e Incursori Teseo Tese, and I have over three hundred confirmed kills.” Junjie continued his baseless threats as if it were a script (and it was) as he walked Edward down the tunnel toward where he had climbed in from the street.

“You know, now that you’ve said something I’ll probably think it’s you,” Edward pointed out, rolling his eyes. He didn’t know if the kid was trying to make him laugh but he was definitely brightening his spirits just a little. At least until they started to come up out of the sewers. Once he recognized that they were on a ladder, he jerked. “Hey! Wait! Where are we going?! Greed is still down there,” he protested, despite knowing there was nothing he could do to help in the state he was in. He didn’t even have his gun anymore! That didn’t stop him from wanting to head back down into the sewers, though. “We can’t just leave him down there!”

Junjie continued up the ladder and set Edward down against a building. “What do you suggest we do?” He said, “You can’t walk, your arm is missing and your other arm is busted—“ Junjie stopped mid-sentence and his face went blank while his mind ran a hundred miles an hour.

“Wait,” he said, holding his hands out, “I’ve got an idea.” He knelt down and took Edward’s wrist in his hands. “But first I have to heal this. I’m not a surgeon, and I don’t know if your bones are aligned right, but I can heal them enough to work. But they’ll be easily broken again, so be really careful. Hold on.” He untied the splint and leaned down. “I’ll ease the pain a little with a thrall but it’s not as strong as my dad’s so it’s going to hurt still. Just hang in there.” He unsheathed his fangs and dug them into Edward’s wrist to inject his secondary venom around the broken bones while simultaneously using healing magic. He had done the operation many times before, but about a quarter of the time he hadn’t healed the bone in the right position. Bones were tricky.

“I am a man with one leg and one arm! Careful is my middle name,” Edward said sarcastically, letting out a hiss when the vampire-fairy hybrid handled his broken wrist.

He had been right when he said that his thrall wasn't as strong as his father’s but it helped. The pain was certainly nothing he couldn't handle. When he moved on to his leg, the blond examined Junjie's handiwork. It really was impressive how he utilized his powers.

Once the wrist bones had healed, Junjie molded a sort of wooden brace around the wrist and half of the palm, leaving Edward’s fingers and thumb open. “It might be a little weird holding a gun like this, but you can do it.”

Next he moved on to Edward’s leg. After pushing his pants up to inspect the broken automail, Junjie rubbed his hands together and faced them toward the ground. He grew a tree, but it had no leaves or branches, and it tapered off a little at the end. He quickly measured Edward’s other leg and then brought a multi-use knife from one of his many pockets inside of his jacket. Using the jagged saw-like edge of the knife, he cut down and hastily shaped a makeshift leg for Edward, just enough to hold his weight and not be a burden when moving around. While he worked, he explained to Edward, “My partner was paralyzed from the waist down. At the time we were kind of in the middle of bumfuck nowhere with no help in sight for months so I had to get creative with helping him get around. While I wouldn’t have had a problem carrying him, he’s two hundred and fifty pounds of pure muscle and I’ll be honest, I’m pretty weak compared to other vampires and I would’ve been crushed. But I’m a smart noodle.”

He attached the leg to Edward’s automail, being careful of the protruding wires and tucking them in so they didn’t rub against the wood. Magically melding biomatter to metal was difficult, but Junjie had done it before plenty of times when working on spinal automail with his partner. “If we had more time I would make you an actual working leg so you could bend it, but that could take like half an hour of poking around, and your ports look rough enough as it is.”

When he was done he stood up and helped Edward stand, then bent down to judge his handiwork. He had been accurate with his measurements, and the two legs were even. He stood up and did a smooth dance move. “I’m a fucking innovator,” he cheered.

He then pulled back his jacket a bit to unbuckle his gun holster and help Edward into it. The pistol was small, but it worked in a pinch. “I also have plenty of knives and other gadgets you can borrow, if you’re into that. But I think a long range is better for you right now.” When he stood back again to admire his work, he breathed out hard, “Dad’s going to be so pissed,” followed by a grin at Edward.

Smart noodle indeed.

Still, looking down at his leg, he couldn't help but chuckle. Winry would be horrified. But it would work. Even if it left Ed feeling a bit like a pirate from one of the story books that he and Al had been obsessed with as children. He grunted as Junjie helped him up and took a few experimental steps on his temporary leg. It was a little strange but not too hard to get used to.

“You certainly are, aren't you? My mechanic would fucking have a fit if she could see me now,” he laughed, taking the offered gun without complaint. It wasn't as easy as usual to hold because of the wooden brace but he appreciated in it. “Normally I’d say you could give me a knife. But you're right about the range being good for me right now. And I don't care if your dad is pissed! I'm fucking pissed! Now how do we find him?” Ed grinned.

Junjie laughed and clapped his hands together excitedly. “We wander around until we find him, of course! Also I’m half fairy so I can sense energy from lots of living bodies. That’s how I found you, in the chamber with all of those slaves. Here, I’ll help you down the ladder, cause that leg isn’t exactly flexible.” He picked Edward up again and climbed down the ladder, then set him down once they were at the bottom. “I’ll charm us both so we’re invisible and silent to anyone else except other fairies, which is just Mom.” The thought of Elodie gave him an idea, and he hummed, looking around. “Maybe I can find Mom actually. I think he’s managed to find Dad by now, because his fairy magic is a lot stronger than mine. He probably hasn’t started fighting or anything though, if I know him. Let’s hope so. But I might be able to find Mom’s energy easier than the others down here.” He started to walk, making sure to stay alongside Edward because he knew otherwise he’d probably dart off and unknowingly leave the human behind.

Chapter Text

Junjie had been correct. Elodie had found Greed, but had not done anything yet. He sat in a corner of the room, practically nonexistent to anyone else in the room while he pondered what to do. He wasn’t one for fighting, and Greed wasn’t yet at death’s door so it wasn’t a life or death situation.

The door to Greed's cell popped open while Junjie had been getting Edward out of his cell and Al was breaking into the abandoned lab above them. She had been monitoring Gluttony's feeding when she smelled, rather than heard Heinkel and Darius. She didn't know how Greed cold stand the smell of those two dogs. It had taken a great deal of effort to pull Gluttony off his meal and send him after the Intruders but she managed it. If nothing else they he would provide a distraction and she wouldn't have to deal with the mutts. Instead she appointed herself messenger, and went looking for Wrath. Not that he was hard to find.

“It would seem we have some company. Hello, Greed. His dogs have sniffed us out. That fairy bitch is probably with them,” the woman said, eyes half lidded as she looked up at her brother. “Should I tell Envy to move the Elric boy? The screaming stopped so he must have passed out, shouldn't be too difficult a task,” she said, tilting her head and giving Greed a small but very mean smile.

Greed was nearing unconsciousness. Wrath had tied him upside-down from the ceiling and sat in a chair in a corner of the room to just watch while Greed struggled to get free. Due to his half-human circulatory system, his blood was a victim to gravity and after about ten minutes had flowed to his head and was having difficulty flowing back up. He was so frustrated. How could he be defeated by something as simple as being hung upside-down? Why wasn’t his body working?

By now his head was pounding, and it was hard to breathe. He couldn’t feel his legs or arms anymore, and his heart pounded painfully in his chest. Even if he hadn’t been gagged, it would be hard to speak like this. He had managed to lift himself up just enough to let the blood flow back down, but there wasn’t enough oxygen in his muscles to hold out for long.

He was hanging limply when Lust entered the room, and when he opened his eyes he had double vision. He barely heard her words, but the name Elric stood out. He started to struggle again. Did they have Edward?! What were they doing with him?!

Wrath stopped sharpening the dagger he had been holding and looked up to regard Lust. “Yes, move Edward Elric,” he said, furrowing his brow in frustration. Had Envy disobeyed him and allowed the human to go unconscious? “Bring him to the other chambers. I have not finished with Greed yet. I am waiting a little longer before questioning him.” He was not worried about the werewolves, or the fairy. They were no match for any vampire, let alone Wrath.

Lust let out a bored sounding hum and turned, waving her hand dismissively. Envy and Greed had always been rather similar before, pushing the limits of their older brothers’ wishes for fun. Lust figured that was why Envy was so bent out of shape over Greed switching sides. The only real difference was that Envy wouldn’t go against Father. At least not on purpose and really, while they liked to push the limits they didn’t like to actually fail at their mission. Especially when they had such a personal vendetta against someone. That would explain the enraged look on his face when he shoved past Lust and into the room. They snarled, not at Wrath, but Greed.

“The Little Red Runt got away,” the barked angrily before hurling the ruined automail at his restrained brother. “Your little brat came and broke him out!”

“How on earth did that happen? He’s even smaller than the Elric boy,” Lust said, earning the full force of Envy’s glare. They marched up to the taller woman and growled in her face, not that it did much to impress her. She just tilted up her chin and arched a brow.

“I. Don’t. Know,” Envy said, each word biting and sharp. “At least he didn’t get away before I got a taste of him,” they said, turning once more to look up at Greed, a slightly crazed grin on their face. “I can see why you didn’t want to share. He’s a yummy little snack, isn’t he? Why I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything quite like him! I certainly won’t forget it,” they purred, hoping to hurt Greed now that they felt humiliated for having failed to keep the shrimp captive. “You know maybe it wasn’t even your kid who took him! I was chasing him all around the cells! I did nearly drain your pretty, little blond! Could be that Gluttony just stumbled across him,” they laughed, hunching forward with the force of it and putting their hands on their knees. “Oh you know how hungry he always is! He doesn’t just stop at blood. He eats anything! He’s barely any better than a fucking feral!”

“He’s dealing with Greed’s dogs and his little Fairy friend,” Lust said icily. She did care for Gluttony, years of being the one to take care of him and help control his eating habits had left her with something of a soft spot for him. For a vampire he was a bit dim, almost like a child in the way he acted and treated her. Really, Lust almost felt like his mother. “You’re just incompetent.”

Meanwhile Al was creeping through a door in the basement wall of the abandoned lab he’d snuck into. There had been nothing in the floors above but dust and left over experiments from when the place was new. Sasha had been very pushy about going lower, and lower, though. Whether it was Ed that she smelled or vampires was unclear but Al was willing to trust her. There was nothing lighting the dank, damp tunnel he ended up in but red lights set into the ceiling. There was, however, a lot of noise echoing down the tunnel. Sasha growled, ears swiveling on her head and looking for the source of the noise.

“Where is it, girl, Al asked, drawing his gun and taking a deep, steadying breath. Who ever was down there was not meeting Al on a good day! Especially if they happen to be the ones who took his brother. Finally, Sasha pointed him in the right direction and Al went running.

He hadn’t expected to come across a battle between at couple werewolves and a vampire that was shockingly round. At least, from the brief moment Al took to watch, it was very similar to the vampires that he hunted back home. Rather than using a thrall it was all brute strength. While one wouldn’t think he and Envy would have anything in common, both were willing to fight dirty, especially against stronger opponents. Which, was why Al felt zero guilt for shooting the vampire in the back. He missed its heart, he could tell from where blood sprayed out of the top of his shoulder. But it did serve to distract the near feral beast. It cried out in pain and spun around, glaring at him with two beady eyes.

“THAT WASN’T FAIR! YOU HURT ME,” he cried childishly before turning to charge at Al. It was easy enough to dodge the butterball, though.

Ling had been asking to front for a while now, but Greed absolutely refused. Eventually, he had grown so mentally weak that Ling was able to push himself through.

While Ling admired Greed’s capacity for love and passion, he was frankly not equipped to deal with a situation such as this one. When his siblings taunted him, he fell for it easily and started to struggle more and scream in frustration, sapping more valuable energy. It was when Envy mentioned drinking from Edward that Greed lost it and Ling yanked Greed out of the pilot’s seat and they went very, very still.

The thing Greed didn’t understand was that even though he was worlds more experienced than Ling, he only interacted with the world as a vampire, and not as a prince. Ling had been captured on numerous occasions and many of them had included torture for information or submission, and that was before the age of nineteen. He had been trained for this. Greed was losing his mind from being hung upside down, but it hadn’t even been an hour. Ling had lasted three hours once.

He focused on breathing and gathering energy. His legs weren’t very useful at the moment, but his core was solid, and he knew he could lift himself up and stay there, unlike Greed who hadn’t been able to hold the position. It was about technique.

He was still listening to Envy’s words, but only passively and waiting for important information. He knew Envy was trying to upset Greed, and he had clearly been successful, but Ling didn’t fall for it. The first rule of surviving torture that he had learned was to know that there was a breaking point, that he would reach that breaking point, but to know where his limits were and to always, always be pushing them further a little bit at a time. And it was useful having no shame as a prince; he could cry, strip, soil himself, whatever it took to keep going, but he did not give his captors what they wanted.

In comparison to all of those things, this was a piece of cake.

So he listened, and learned that Edward was here, and so was Junjie, Elodie, Heinkel and Darius, the latter three were apparently dealing with Gluttony. Junjie had managed to rescue Edward. Good, Junjie was a skilled healer. Edward was safe. Nothing else Envy said was critical enough to warrant a space in Ling’s mind.

When he felt as though he had enough energy, Ling took in a few deep breaths. On the third breath, he held it and quickly pulled his torso up to his knees, then breathed out with control as he curled his body in and pulled himself up more until he could bring his tied hands under his body and over to the other side. Now using his hands, he grabbed the cord and pulled himself up until he was completely upright.

Wrath had been watching curiously as soon as Greed went still. Greed wasn’t the type to back down or give up. When he started to move again, Wrath realized what happened and he said, “I was wondering when you would come out, Ling Yao.”

Envy had gone quiet and was watching Ling carefully. With how they had been ranting they hadn't realized that he was fronting until he had fucking moved. Their lip curled in disgust and they cocked their head curiously. Lust was watching as well, face pinched.

“So this is the other human,” Envy said, smirking. “You were some sort of vampire hunter in Xing, yeah? How funny is it that you’re a vampire now!”

Ling usually kept talking to a minimum while in captivity, and whatever he did say was carefully thought about beforehand (or just utter nonsense). This time, after he wrapped the cord around his arms to hold himself up better, he called down, “I wouldn’t say it’s funny really, but it sure is an adventure.”

Envy sneered at Ling as Lust stepped further into the room and walked around him, giving the prince an assessing look.

“Are you sure that they aren't just lovers,” she asked playfully, Envy sending her a dirty look. “I mean I wouldn't blame the Elric boy if they were. Our brother managed to find a lovely body to occupy.”

“Oh shut up, you hussy,” Envy barked in annoyance, hands landing on their hips. “They're planning something. I can feel it! Even Wrath is concerned! What more proof do you need?!”

“Oh? Did you get something useful out of the boy before you nearly drained him dry?”

Lust’s question made envy growl low in their throat, shoulders hunching up around their ears. They hadn't learned anything! The twerp hadn't let a thing slip. Maybe they had underestimated that runty little human. The next time they got their hands on them they would make sure they had time to draw things out.

“Just that he’s stupidly moral and idealistic,” Envy groused.

Ling made an awkward face at Lust’s comment. “Um… Sorry, lady, but I have a boyfriend. And even if I didn’t, I’m gay. Also you’re Greed’s sister so that’s just weird.”

Ling smiled a little when Envy said that Edward hadn’t spilled any beans. He knew Edward was strong willed. He chose the right boyfriend. Also, that was really hot. He kind of wished Edward was the one hanging him from the ceiling, but that was a thought for another time.

Lust laughed lowly at Ling and waved her hand. That was cute. As if she would be trying to flirt with him!

“Oh I don't mean anything by it. I'm just saying you look nice. Just like I occasionally remind Envy that they look like a palm tree in a skirt,” that earned an indignant 'hey' from her sibling. “Besides this isn't even the record for most awkward sibling interaction among us. Anyway what should we do with him now that we know our darling brother has reinforcement? Are we just going to kill them all and keep him? If his boytoy got away he’ll be hounding after us harder than ever, if he wasn't before.”

Ling kept his mouth shut when Lust started to talk about plans. He didn’t want to negotiate while his body was under this much stress.

Wrath stood up from his chair and approached the other vampires. “Don’t kill the fairy,” he said, “Or Greed’s son, or Edward Elric. That was never part of this plan. I wish to question Greed and Ling Yao, and then release him if I decide he is safe.” He looked at Envy. “You disobeyed my instructions and therefore failed to interrogate Edward Elric. The state I’m assuming you left him in will have consequences for all of us.” Next, he turned to Lust. “Keep an eye on Gluttony and make sure he does not kill Greed’s companions. It should not be difficult to keep them busy without making things worse for us.”

Lust nodded her head toward Wrath and left the room. She just couldn’t hold her tongue as she passed by Envy, though. Her mouth tugged into a small smirk as she glanced at her sulking sibling. They glared at her but she wasn’t deterred. Actually, her smirk just grew a fraction.

“You’ve really let that boy get under your skin, haven’t you? Such a lowly, human-like lapse of control is quite unbecoming, Envy,” she crooned as she waltzed through the door and started searching for her wayward charge.

Envy had been effectively dismissed, not even really given a task to perform aside from ‘don’t fuck up again’. Wrath didn’t have to say it out loud for them to get the hint. Then there was Lust poking fun at them. They snarled at her when she passed, showing their fangs. What was most annoying about the whole thing is that both of them were right. They had let that stupid little human get to them somehow. Without a word, they left, shoving their shoulder into Lust’s when they hurried past.

If there was nothing else for them to do aside from not killing the fairy or Greed’s mutts then maybe they would just go take some aggression out on one of the cows before going to look for the little blond bitch and Greed’s freakish offspring. They needed to get ahold of themselves.

It hadn’t just been Edward that gotten to Envy like this. It needled at them every time they found out Greed had taken a human lover or companion. They just didn’t know how those hairless apes had managed to steal away their best friend! It wasn’t fair!

Lust was nearby but going in another direction. It wasn’t exactly hard to find Gluttony with all the noise that he was making. When she emerged in the tunnel here he and the mutts were fighting she was surprised to find someone else with them. For the time being, she didn’t see the need to reveal herself. With Gluttony there if anyone attacked her it would just make it harder to keep him from actually trying to kill them. Watching the battle ensue she had to admit she was impressed with the blond human who seemed to be oh so skilled at dodging Gluttony’s clumsy but rather quick attacks. He was powerful to be sure, but much like Sloth most of his power was in brute strength alone.


 

Edward snorted and shook his head a little. Wandering around until they found Greed wasn't exactly a plan. Though it did seem more viable once Junjie explained his powers. He hadn't even considered being carried down the ladder and pouted the whole way down. When he got put back in the floor he bowed a little and motioned ahead of him.

“Lead the way,” he said teasingly.

It felt strange just walking around as they were. He was used to needing to sneak around to keep from getting found out. How well would this sort of thing work to block scents from more primal beasts?

“So do you have any sort of plan for what we’re going to do once we find your mom,” he asked, trying to formulate some sort of course of action with what little information he had. He wasn't very mobile right now but if Junjie or Elodie could keep Envy or whoever else still he could shoot them. “what kind of rounds are in this?”

Junjie paused. “Uh…. No, I don’t have a plan. Well, the plan was just to bust in and hope things don’t go to hell. And those are copper-lead bullets with a garlic and silver powder mixture at the end. They’re a lot cheaper than whole silver bullets and I’ve got a lot more, so don’t worry about wasting them. That one holds sixteen rounds.” He continued down the tunnel towards where he had found the slave corridor before but continued past the door this time.

Edward snorted. This kid was lucky head wasn't human or he would be probably be dead. Not just because of his age either.

“Okay. Hope is not a plan,” he said, smiling a little as he said it. “How well can you and your mom keep these fuckers still or just keep me from getting hit? I'm a good shot but not all that mobile right now,” he said bitterly. Junjie may have healed the worst of his wounds but he was still tired, in pain, and damn pissed for being kidnapped in the first place.

As the crept through the cells holding the coven's cattle it was hard not to just try and bust them out. His nose wasn't as sharp as a vampire or werewolf but he could still smell the stench coming off the diet unwashed masses and hear their whimpers and cries of fear. He was going to put an end to this, no matter what. He just didn't have the means just yet. However the damp, dankness of the tunnel and thinking about the fact that it smelled as if no one had bathed in forever gave him an idea.

“Fairies are good with nature based magic right? Does that apply to water as well as plants?” The wheels In his mind were turning and it might not kill anyone, what he was thinking of doing but it would at least offer the element of surprise.

Junjie grimaced when Edward said hope wasn’t a plan. That worked most of the time for him. “Well, with you being charmed you can pretty much do anything and they won’t know where you are. They can smell you, but there’s not much of a draft down here so by the time they figure you out by that you can move. If Mom isn’t in there, then they might hear your gunshot. But Mom’s magic is a lot better than mine so he’ll make sure the charm is solid.”

He paused at Edward’s question and looked at him curiously. “Well, I can do a little bit with water, but mostly it deals with actual living tissue, like people, animals, plants, and so on. I can make water out of plants, but I can’t make it out of thin air.”

“I don’t want to shoot anyone unless I have to. I’m in no real condition to fight,” Edward said, motioning to himself. Or he would have if his arm was still attached. “However! Between the two of us I think we can cause quite a commotion! Maybe make it easier for your mom to help Greed if he’s found him,” he said with a grin. The only question was how they were supposed to do that.

Any hunter worth their salt knew how to make holy water. It was a simple, latin incantation and very useful. Holy water could be a more subtle weapon if they could just figure out how to use it. It wasn’t like vampires had a reason to fear water in general. And really who would expect to encounter it when in the comfort of their own coven?

“Seems to me the best we can do is either cause a distraction or at least detain as many of the other vampires as we meet along the way to wherever your dad is, few less that can be called in for reinforcement when we have to blow our cover.” Envy hadn’t managed to take his belt. So he had a few items of his own to work with. Enchanted cuffs that were plated in silver, a couple stakes, some bullets, though they wouldn’t work with the gun he had currently.

Junjie hummed and put his hand on his chin in thought, then grinned and snickered a little. “Well, not all fairies have plant magic like me but we all do have mischief magic. We’re professional pains in the ass. I managed to get Envy off you by making a phantom clone of myself that taunted him and ran away. It’s something any fairy can do, so I wouldn’t put all our trust in it since Envy might not fall for it twice, but it’s something. I can also shapeshift a little bit and change my voice. Any of that sound distracting enough?”

Edward was about to reply when a familiar face rounded the corner ahead of them. Envy was storming into the corridor and paused at the first cell they came across to look at the cattle inside. A wicked grin cut across Edward’s face and he shoved the small gun he’d been given into the waist of his pants before taking the handcuffs off and flicking them open.

“That all sounds awesome. But for now can you just keep them quiet,” he asked.

Envy had no idea what hit them. One minute they were studying the cattle and trying to pick one to tear into and then the next something that burned circled around their wrist. They couldn’t even see what was attacking them! With a cry of rage they swung blindly, trying to hit whatever was going after them. It had to be that little fairy bitch or Greed’s son.

“Where are you, you little shit,” Envy snarled, lunging further into the corridor, only to be yanked back when their arm didn’t want to come along with the rest of their body. Looking back, they saw a pair of cuffs attaching them to the bars of the cell. The metal around their wrist was a seamless band with etchings all around the outside. They continued along the chain that connected to the other cuff and no matter how hard Envy yanked on them they wouldn’t fucking break. “Aaagh! Fuck Wrath! Fuck Greed! If I get my hands on you I’m going to rip you to pieces!”

The whole scene gave Edward a somewhat malicious sense of satisfaction. But who could blame him after what Envy had done to him? He snickered and looked over at Junjie, arching a brow. “Anything else you can think of for us to do to ‘em before we go hunting for your dad again?” he asked curiously.

Junjie charmed Envy to be silent and cackled while Edward cuffed him to the cell. “Nice!” He said.

Then he hummed in thought. He didn’t want to do anything too bad and piss him off enough to make Greed mad too. Eventually he snickered and clapped his hands together before pointing them at Envy, whose hair turned neon pink. “Just a little makeover,” said with a grin before leading Edward out of the corridor. He was going to be exhausted tonight from using so much of his magic, but that was okay. He was pretty sure everyone was going to be exhausted after this was over.

Chapter Text

Wrath lowered the cord holding Ling Yao until he was only a few feet off the ground. He had been waiting until Greed was sufficiently beaten down enough to question, but the former prince seemed to be much more level-headed. “Ling Yao,” he said, “I’m sure you have been in a situation such as this before.”

“A couple of times,” Ling said. He adjusted his grip to one arm to let blood flow through the other one.

“While Envy and Lust have caused harm to your companions, that was not my intention upon bringing you here. I simply wish to make sure you and Greed will not interfere with the dealings of this coven.”

Ling frowned. “A little extreme for a chat, isn’t it?”

“Greed is not one to cooperate, you understand.” Ling nodded, and Wrath continued. “In fact, I planned to hold him here much longer until he was willing to cooperate. I know you are smart, Ling Yao, son of the former Emperor of Xing. If you will participate and convince Greed to follow along, I will release you. Are we in agreement?”

Ling shifted his grip back to his other arm. He was good at this, being raised as a politician. Besides, he wouldn’t even be lying half of the time. The question was whether Greed would go along with it.

Let’s hear what he has to say, Greed grumbled.

“We are in agreement,” Ling said, “Greed also agrees to comply.”

“What exactly is your relationship with Edward Elric?” Wrath asked.

“He’s my boyfriend,” Ling said easily. Edward hadn’t said exactly that that’s what they were, but Ling enjoyed calling him that.

“And Greed?”

“Also Edward’s boyfriend.”

“How did this begin?”

Ling smiled. “Greed was hungry and tried to feed on him while he was hunting, but Edward fought back. They started to talk, and Edward was really curious about why Greed was so different than the vampires he’d hunted in the country, and Greed made a deal with him that if he let Greed feed on him, Greed would give him information about how civilized vampires work.”

“What information exactly?” Wrath was like a robot, one question after another. Ling could tell he was watching Ling’s body language carefully for any sign of lying.

Thankfully, Ling was good at lying. “Greed explained how a vampire’s body works, like circulation, weaknesses, healing, and so on. He explained how thralls work and venom. He explained how he and I merged and how it makes us different than any other human or vampire. Then they shared stories from their past, about Edward’s childhood and Greed’s time in Edward’s hometown a long time ago. Greed talked about music, and played some songs on the piano for him, and then they kissed.” He had a big goofy smile on his face by the end.

 

Junjie’s little prank had Edward laughing, though it hurt his ribs to do so. Probably not nearly so much as it would have before the Fairy-Vampire hybrid had gotten a hold of him. Envy seemed to have noticed too because they started to thrash even harder. They couldn’t hear them, though. Which just made all the stomping and angry faces they were making even funnier. His laughter died into little chuckles as they turned into another corridor.

“Sense anyone else around for us to fuck with,” he asked with a grin.

Junjie hummed and continued to walk for a moment, before he started to feel another fairy presence. “No, but I do sense Mom,” he said. He had to make himself slow down so Edward could keep up. He was excited to see his dad again, even in the rough circumstances.

A few moments later, they emerged into a large and cavernous room that sort of reminded Junjie of a Catholic Church, just without the pews and religious imagery. Elodie was standing up when they arrived and rushed over to them. “I was hoping you’d find me,” Elodie said, “I didn't know if I should do anything. It looks like Bradley wants to just talk to Greed and then let him go.”

“Why was Edward Elric asking you about dragons in Amestris in the first place?” Wrath was asking Ling.

“Like I said before, Greed knows a lot of history,” Ling said, “It’s only natural to want to know things, especially for humans. And Edward experienced a little bit of it as a kid, with the war and all.”

Edward hobbled after Junjie as quickly as he could. Seeing Greed trussed up like a Christmas Turkey and dangling from the ceiling had him biting back the urge to take a running jump and kick the Fuhrer in the head. And how crazy was that? He was probably the closest to the man he had ever been.

“I say we kill him. Grab Greed. Set the humans loose, and then burn this whole place to the ground,” Ed growled, though he knew it wasn't really an option. One day he was going to see Bradley — Wrath, whoever he was — dead, though.

Junjie grimaced. “Yeah, but then we’d only be pissing off Gramps and he’d burn the entire country to the ground probably,” he said, “It’s best if we just wait this one out for a bit. We might be able to just walk out of here with him.”

Wrath seemed to be reaching the end of his questions for Ling, and he studied the man closely. Eventually, he said, “You have done well so far and I cannot find reason to keep you here permanently. However, I will ask that you take Edward Elric out of Central City, and do not return. If you are truly innocent, that should not be an issue.”

Ling smiled. “Of course not!” He said, “I’ve taken a liking to the citizens and my job, but we’ve been wanting to take Edward around the world anyway. And with the state of his automail Envy hit me with earlier, he needs a checkup!”

Wrath nodded. “Thank you for your cooperation, Ling Yao. You have been helpful. Now, I would like to speak to Greed.”

Ling was quiet. Greed had let him do what he wanted so far, but he wasn’t entirely sure if Greed was in a good enough state of mind to front and not lose control.

I can handle myself, Greed said, We just have to get this over with.

It was easier said than done, keeping his cool. Greed pulled himself up a little more on the rope and took a deep breath. “If you’re really all that worried about me turning against you,” he muttered, “You really could have done without messing with my shit.”

“You understand why I am concerned,” Wrath said.

Greed did. Now that Junjie was out of the house and Greed shacked up with an ambitious human and dating another ambitious human, the odds of him pulling a fast one were good. Still, he argued. “That doesn’t warrant you doing anything to Edward. You could have just taken me like you did. Why the fuck did you take him too?!”

“I allowed Envy to make a judgement call on interrogating Edward Elric,” Wrath explained, “Though clearly they did not follow my orders. Father will know about this, and they will be punished.”

“That’s not enough!” Greed insisted, “It doesn’t fix any of it! The first time they hunted him down was already bad enough—“

“You are not one of us anymore, Greed,” Wrath interrupted him, “You cannot make demands. We negotiate because Father doesn’t want you getting in his way. You will take Edward Elric out of Central City, and you will not return for another century, or until Father says otherwise.”

Greed seethed for a moment, then huffed. “Fine,” he said, “I’ll take him to get his automail fixed, then to Xing, or wherever he wants to go. Just to keep all of your fucking filthy hands off of him!”

Wrath nodded. “We have a truce for one week, then. You will call off your companions and I will call off the others. You will take Edward Elric away and you will not return. Are we in agreement?”

“Yeah, it’s a deal,” Greed muttered.

Wrath pulled one of his swords from behind his back and swung it out to cut the cord holding Greed up, and he fell to the ground with a grunt. His body was aching badly, but it wasn’t something he hadn’t dealt with before. Wrath untied his hands and feet. “You understand the consequences should you break the truce.”

“Yeah, I know,” Greed said as he stumbled to his feet, a little dizzy.

Elodie turned to Junjie and Edward. “We should probably go find Heinkel and Darius,” he said.

Edward didn't want to leave, not before Greed, but he let himself get urged out of the room by Elodie and his son. It didn't stop him from looking back at Greed until they were out of the cavernous room. Had he known that Al was with the werewolves he probably would have been more in a hurry. He didn't know, so he was being bogged down in concern for Greed.

“You know it is entirely unfair that he got that guy and I got Envy. All he had to do was hang around for an over dramatic chat about our relationship. Envy barely even interrogated me! They just beat the fuck out of me,” he grumbled, more for his own benefit than to try and make his current companions laugh or anything.

Junjie gave Edward a sympathetic look. “Envy’s gonna pay for it,” he said, “If I know my dad, he’s good at holding grudges.”

As they were making their way down the corridor a loud bang, followed by a pained and enraged roar met their ears. It was pulled from echoing through the tunnels but still rather loud. “Think that has any to do with where your friends are?”

In the access tunnel Al had managed to land a rather nasty blow to Gluttony. Just because they had moved out of the country didn't mean Al had stopped carrying around some things that they used to hunt feral vampires back home. One of those items was essentially a firework mortar that was filled with garlic and silver dust. Usually they were used a a quick way to drive a vampire out of the area.

Al had gotten a little more inventive. Gluttony had come running at him, mouth open and slobbering as had become part for the course. This time when he tumbled out of the way he tossed the lit mortar in gluttony's face and watched with some morbid fascination as the damn thing caught it mid air like a dog.

It was probably lucky he didn't swallow it, a least for him, because all it managed to do was blow off his bottom jaw. It was absolutely disgusting seeing the bottom half of his face trying to knit it's back together, tongue burnt and dangling out of the mess of his mouth.

“That's quite enough,” said a low, feminine voice before a tall, buxom woman stepped from the shadows. The first vampire went from a terrifying beast to a child in seconds, rushing over to the woman and garbling through his ruined mouth at her.

Al watched, stunned as the vampire’s meaty fists curled into the skirts of her dress and he pressed his bloody face against her legs, still babbling. She wished him, soothing her hand over his head as she were his mother. She might have been for all the hatred in her eyes when she looked up at him.

“You are very lucky I have more control than my sibling or you would be in a similar state to your brother now,” she hissed.

When they heard the roar, Elodie nodded at Edward’s question. “Heinkel and Darius are in there,” he said.

They got to the door just as a child emerged from the corner of the room. Junjie guessed this was Pride, and that the other two were Gluttony and Lust. He had never met them before, but he had heard stories.

“Wrath is finished,” Pride said to Lust, “He called a truce for a week to let Greed take the human out of the city. We all have to report to Father now.”

He turned to the werewolves and the other human, who had paused in their fight after Gluttony retreated. “Go home,” he said, his childish voice echoing around the room, “Greed’s been released. If I were you I’d leave the city as well. You aren’t welcome here.”

Junjie scoffed. He didn’t like any of his piblings, but Pride annoyed him. He was condescending without even doing anything. At least his elevated pride kept him from fighting most of the time. Greed had said he was something to behold in battle.

After the vampires had left the room to report to Gramps, Junjie released the charms on himself and Edward, and Elodie did as well. He approached the werewolves, who were returning back to their (still unfairly jacked) human forms. “Pride was telling the truth, we saw Dad being released.”

Junjie then peered at the other human in the room curiously. “Who’s this guy?” He asked, pointing a thumb at him.

“I don’t actually know,” Heinkel said, turning to face Al, “He joined us a while ago and helped get Gluttony off our backs.”

“Thank you for that,” Darius added.

Edward very nearly lost his shit when he saw Al. But then the other vampires were being ordered to leave. That made him feel some better at least. Still, when the charms were dropped he went hobbling up to his brother, momentarily ignoring Sasha as she ran up to him.

“What are you doing here idiot,” he snapped, not giving Al any time to respond to Darius.

The smile that he had been giving the werewolves stopped when he saw Ed. There was a brief moment of shock and worry that was quickly replaced by annoyance. After all it was obvious that he had been found and then insisted on staying despite his lack of limbs.

“I'm down here looking for you, moron! Why else would I be here?!”

“I was fine! You shouldn't have come! It's dangerous! How did you even find me?!”

“A spell! And have you seen yourself?! All you need is a parrot and hook hand and you would be a pirate! What happened to you?!”

As the brothers argued Sasha faced a curious look to the others in the room. She recognized Elodie, but didn't go say hello with the others lingering nearby. She did, however feel the need to run up and nudge Ed’s leg a few times. It distracted him from fighting with Al for a second at least.

“Yes! Yes there are vampires nearby and a bunch of other creatures here too,” he sighed, reaching down to pet her head. Just because he was mad didn't mean he was going to yell at her for doing what she was trained for. Looking around at the others he rubbed at the back of his neck. “We should probably get going now. Uh… this is my brother Al, by the way.”

Well, clearly Edward knew this guy. Junjie watched them argue curiously, and snorted when Al said Edward looked like a pirate. “I can make you a hook hand,” he said quietly. He thought about his partner, who was a fairy with parrot wings. They could figure something out.

When Edward introduced them, Junjie looked between the two. “I can see it now,” he said, then said to Al as they headed out, “I’m assuming you know Greed? He’s my dad.”

Elodie led the way back to the street, Junjie talking the whole way. “You’re probably wondering why I look like Satan incarnate. I’m half vampire and half fairy, Elodie’s my mom. Also I know I look like, fifteen, but I’m really a hundred and fifty three, almost a hundred and fifty four. A lot of people mistake me for a dragon. You know, I could give you a hook hand if you wanted. And my partner is a climate fairy, he’s got parrot wings. We could totally do a setup sometime. Hey, you guys should come back to the apartment with us. I could finish fixing you up and stuff. Also I think Dad’s gonna be pissed at me for bringing you back down there and he won’t be as mean if you’re there.”

“Junjie Wang Fay,” came Greed’s voice as soon as they reached the surface, and Junjie winced and went invisible.

“Junjie,” Elodie scolded, reversing Junjie’s charm. Junjie had bolted, but stopped when he had been discovered and returned, head hung.

Greed approached him. “What, the fuck, were you thinking,” he hissed, “You brought him back?!”

Junjie waved his arms frantically. “He’s a vampire hunter!! I thought he could help!!”

Greed put his hands over his face and groaned. “Oh my god, Junjie, I can’t believe you. I can’t…” He turned to Edward and assessed him. “I’m so sorry,” he said, “Do you want me to take you home?”

Both Edward and Al chuckled at the idea of actually putting forth the effort to make him look more like a pirate. Learning that fairies came with wings that weren't just different shapes and colors but different types of wings entirely was interesting. If Greed hadn't popped up to scold Junjie he would have asked more about it. Huffing quietly at the apologies, he stepped up to lightly smack Greed across the chest with the back of his hand.

“Ah, don't yell at the kid. Do you really think his not helping me back down there would have actually stopped me from going back? They still had you,” he refused to look at Greed, or anyone when he said that last part. He wanted to cross his arms over his chest but with only one it would have looked silly. “Think I got the short end of the stick. I don't know them that well, but Envy doesn't seem like the type of person you let make calls based on their best judgement,” he muttered.

“As for taking him home, that isn't happening. We're going back to your place with you. Junjie offered to help fix Ed up some more and the trip back to Resembool will be hard enough without him being hurt,” Al said, steamrolling over any objections that Ed might have had. He was in mother hen mode and there was no turning it off.

“Al calm down,” Edward insisted, looking around at everyone with a bit of embarrassment as the younger man peeled back his jacket and what was left of his shirt to get a good look at the port on his shoulder. The blood that had been oozing out from around it had dried but it was still alarming to look at. “Maybe if you leave me a little beat me up Winry won't take an entire pound of flesh out of me for letting her automail get destroyed.”

“Yeah because if we take you home all beat to hell like this she’ll start crying! What's worse? A wrench to the head or her crying over you. Again,” Al said, glaring at his brother until he slouched and hunched his shoulders up around his ears. He knew that Ed loved Winry and hated to see her cry, especially if it was because of him.

“Fine… I wanted to go to Greed's anyway,” he mumbled petulantly. Which wasn't a lie. Honestly he didn't care where they went but he wanted Greed to stay with him. It seemed to be easier it they just went to Greed's apartment though, and getting some healing would just be a bonus.

He tried to glance subtly up at the vampire in question. Thinking of his first encounter with Envy and the resulting slumber party that ensued after all he wanted was to be held. Just… not in front of everyone. It didn't stop him from reaching out to curl two of his fingers into one of Greed's belt loops, though. He could afford himself that much comfort in mixed company.

“Excellent! Now that we have that settled, someone lead the way,” Al said pleasantly. Looking between Junjie and Elodie, he smiled. “Now… you mentioned that your partner was a climate fairy? What does that mean and what is the difference between him, and say, Elodie. Nice to see you again by the way,” he said, offering the fairy a charming smile as he fell back on his manners and started to indulge in his curiosity, something he shared with his older brother.

Greed went quiet when Edward scolded him. He would beg to differ that Edward would have gone back in even if Junjie didn’t patch him back up. He had lost two limbs, after all.

When Al mentioned going back to the apartment and Edward’s injuries, Greed’s attention immediately went to Edward’s shoulder, and his vision blurred for a second as anger took over him. “God dammit,” he exclaimed, shoving his fists into his eyes and rubbing them in frustration.

He was going to skin Envy.

He disregarded everything else and started to storm toward the entrance to the tunnel, only for Junjie to block his way. “Dad, dad, dad,” Junjie said, “You can’t go back in there. You’ll break the truce.”

Greed didn’t bother asking Junjie why he knew about the truce yet. He just stopped and seethed, wishing he could rip something apart, preferably the hair from Envy’s head. It wasn’t until he felt Edward’s gentle pull on his belt loop that he calmed down, as though the Hunter’s touch was a sedative. He turned to look back at Edward with a sad expression, and all he wanted was to take him into his arms and kiss him and hold him and never let go.

But he could wait. Instead he wrapped an arm around Edward’s waist and pulled him close while they walked back to the apartment. He stayed silent, his mind going through anger, pain, frustration, sadness, and relief from what had happened.

Junjie, on the other hand, was just happy that everyone was safe and together. He was excited to explain about fairies to Alphonse, and walked backwards to face him while Elodie and the werewolves led the way. “There’s different types of fairies. I’m a plant fairy, and so is Mom. That’s why Mom’s got butterfly wings. Usually plant fairies have some kind of bug wing. I’m different because I’m half vampire. Asld is a climate fairy, so his magic revolves around weather and atmosphere stuff. He can do a lot of water and air magic. Mom can hex Dad’s room so it sounds like it’s raining, but he can’t actually make it rain in there, but Asld can. And I can make plants grow, but Asld can’t. He’s from an island in the Southwest, so that’s why he’s got parrot wings.”

“Asld can’t do a rain charm in a room,” Elodie said quietly.

Junjie rolled his eyes. “Okay, so he could potentially do a rain charm. He’s….gifted in other ways.”

Elodie snorted and turned to give Junjie an incredulous look. “I see you’re nicer about it now,” he said, “Last time he was here you just called him a dumbass.”

Junjie scoffed. “That’s one of my nicknames for him! It’s not something I actually— you don’t understand.”

Elodie raised his eyebrows, but turned back around without a comment.

“That's fascinating,” Al said with a grin. “We haven't had much experience with fairies. Your mother is the first I’ve actually spoken to. Is your talent with healing magic a part of being a plant fairy?” he asked.

Junjie nodded. “We work with living tissues,” he said, “Though the vast majority of it is with plant cells. That’s why I can grow a plant with magic, but I can’t grow a person with magic. I can sort of regenerate individual animal tissues, though. That’s how we use healing magic. It’s not very good by itself, but if I combine it with my secondary venom, it works pretty well. But it hurts, unless I use a thrall at the same time. And using all three at once is pushing it.”

“Makes sense,” Al said, watching as Sasha weaved between everyone and sniffed around their legs. Occasionally she would make it back around to nudge at Ed or himself. “I’m sure your dad will be happy to help keep Ed comfortable while you patch him up. Speaking of, will you and your mom be coming with us to Resembool or will you go somewhere else, stay here?”

They were going to be cute a sight if everyone was coming with them. Secretly he hoped they would. Seeing them All interacting with Pinako and Winry had potential to be absolutely hilarious!

Junjie looked at Elodie, then shrugged. “I’ll have to ask Dad about that. I came here for a specific reason anyway, so… I actually just arrived in the city as I saw Dad being dragged underground.”

Edward leaned into Greed when he wrapped his arm around his waist and let himself be lead. There was some illusion of privacy with Al talking to Junjie and the others seeming to kindly ignore them. Now that they were all together and the current threat seemed to have passed he let himself relax some.

“We can kick Envy's ass later. What's their problem with me anyway?” For someone who had acted all high and mighty about being a vampire it seemed like they had barely been in control of themselves. Easily goaded into arguing and violence when it would have been so much more effective to use their thrall.

Greed leaned over to kiss the top of Edward’s head. “I think there’s a lot going into it,” he said, “I think it’s mostly about me. Their name is Envy, after all. We’ve always been at odds with each other, with our natures. I take what I want, they want what I have. But it used to be in a different way, I guess. If I were to pinpoint it, they’re probably jealous that you have me around your finger like you do.”

Edward smiled when Greed kissed the top of his head. He supposed he could understand what Greed meant. It almost sounded like a very extreme version of a regular sibling relationship. Fighting with each other and annoying each other could be fun. And sometimes it made you close in an odd way.

“Well they need to get over it,” he said, leaning his head against Greed's shoulder. “Or at least leave my automail in one piece! When we get to Resembool you'll have to protect me from Winry.” At that he licked his lips and looked up at the other man. “You are coming with us, right?” He didn't want to just assumed but he had figured that Greed would be coming with them.

“Of course I’m coming with you,” Greed said, “In fact, Wrath made me promise to take you out of the city and not come back. Honestly, I’m not too upset about it. The further away you are from my siblings, the better I’ll feel. And don’t worry, I think at this point I have an automatic Protect Edward reflex that would act before I even knew what was going on. Winry better watch herself.”

“Winry won't be that bad. Probably just going to yell at me. Maybe throw something at me from her porch. I think she just knows I can deal with her yelling better than with her crying,” Edward admitted with a smile. He had been amused and a little pleased by Greed's answer but didn't actually want her hurt.

They arrived at the apartment soon after, and Heinkel unlocked the door for them. “If you don’t mind,” he said, “We’re going to head back to bed. We’re not nocturnal.” He chuckled.

“Go ahead,” Greed said, “Thank you for your help tonight.”

“Of course,” Darius said. They said their goodnights and headed off, and Elodie looked at Greed pointedly.

Greed sighed. “You can go to bed too,” he said, “Thank you, Elodie.”

Elodie smiled a bit. “Thank your son,” he said, “He’s the one that dragged me out of bed to help get your ass out of trouble.”

Greed rolled his eyes, though he smiled. “Thank you, Junjie.”

“You’re very welcome,” Junjie said proudly.

After Elodie went to bed, Greed led Edward to the couch and sat down with him and helped him remove his jacket and shirt while Junjie got some supplies from the kitchen. His jaw set when he saw the state of Edward’s port and the messy scar on his neck, but he didn’t say anything, though he knew his face betrayed the nature of his thoughts: if Envy lays another hand on Edward, I’m going to surgically cut them into pieces so small not even God could see them. Then I’m going to put the pieces in a bag, dig a hole deep enough to reach Hell, throw them into the flames, and then bury them.

Once they reached Greed's, Edward offered up a quiet thank you to Elodie and the others. They hadn't so much helped him but they were helping Greed and hadn't let anything happen to Al so it was worth the thanks, he thought. Still, he was glad to see them disappear as he was helped over to the couch and relieved of his coat and the ruined shirt under it. His ribs and port hurt the most. The thrall they had used to make pain flare in his joints was over though, and so was most of the pain. He held onto Greed's arm as he dropped onto the couch. Al joined him moments later, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder as he looked at Ed’s port.

“Jesus, Ed,” he said worriedly. “Do you.. I mean can you feel how bad it is,” he asked curiously, careful not to actually touch where the tacky blood had pooled where flesh met metal.

“I'm not really sure,” Ed admitted with a frown. “I think a lot of it was just possibly reopening old flesh wounds. But around where the port is anchored to the bone it aches,” he said, hoping that when they got back to Resembool they wouldn't have to do anything too drastic regarding his port. That always took so long to heal.

With a tired sigh he leaned himself up against Greed and closed his eyes. More than anything he was tired. He reached up to rub at the side of his neck and frowned a little when he found the scar Envy had left for him. That sucked, but wasn't the worst thing. At least it didn't cover the far smaller one on the other side of his neck that Greed left. His was barely noticeable and probably wouldn't be until he developed some sort of tan.

“Still think I'm beautiful right,” he said jokingly, turning his head to smile at Greed. “I think I can really rock this whole beaten to shit look,” he said, snickering quietly to himself.

“It's not funny, Ed,” Al said, though he had a small smile on his face, recognizing his brother’s attempt to make everyone stop worrying too much.

Greed put his arm behind Edward’s neck and his hand on Edwards head when he leaned on him. “Dammit, Edward,” he chided, “I’ll always think you’re beautiful. No need to get your ass kicked.”

Junjie returned to the couch with arms full of various first aid supplies. He set them on the coffee table and then went and got a chair from the dining table and sat it in front of Edward so he could assess him. “Let’s do your shoulder first and then we’ll worry about the leg port. Dad, can you enthrall him?”

Greed did so. It was a basic thrall to make Edward feel no pain and a sense of calm. “Go ahead,” he told Junjie when it was set.

Watching Junjie work on Edward caused a sudden wave of emotion in him, and he smiled. “Thank you, Junjie,” he said softly.

Junjie glanced at him, then looked annoyed. “Don’t get emotional right now,” he said, “I’m trying to work.”

Greed didn’t reply. Even though he was upset that Junjie brought Edward back into the coven, he was infinitely grateful that he had gotten Edward out of there in the first place. And seeing him work miracles on Edward’s wounds made him proud of raising him. He had done well.

Junjie shook his head and turned back to Edward’s port. While he wasn’t opposed to getting emotional with his dad, it was distracting, and he had a task to do. He put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and cleaned the dried blood off of Edward’s shoulder and port. Then he put his hands over the area and closed his eyes to read the energy. “You’ve got some minor muscle tears,” he said, “I closed your external wounds earlier, but there’s some small ligament and muscle tears where your tissue meets the port. Other than that, it’s just some stretching that’s making it all kind of sore.” He looked between Edward and Alphonse. “Would you like me to try and heal the tissue? I’m not an official doctor, at least not in Amestris — I am considered one in a few other countries — but anyway, I can’t guarantee the tissue will go back to normal in there, but I can try. The nerve tissue is still connected, so it’s just a matter of healing the other tissue and re-attaching some of it to the metal.”

Edward hummed and smiled as he felt Greed's thrall. It was becoming comforting and familiar by now. Honestly he was getting spoiled by it. Not feeling any pain when he was amazing. He just watched and listened, leaning into Greed the whole time.

“If it isn't any too serious just leave it. But if one of you could take what's left of my automail off the port I would appreciate it,” he said, lifting the ragged metal stump a little. Al moved first, familiar with the connections and clasps keeping his arm attached. Having the weight of his mangled arm taken off helped to ease some of the soreness. “My leg port doesn't feel as bad off. All of the rest of me hurts from when Envy was kicking me around, though.”

He lifted a hand to run over his bruised and aching ribs. Not that he could feel it at the moment. That was what was going to be a real pain in the ass when it came to traveling. Every little bump and jostle would make his body hurt and he couldn't ask Greed to keep him enthralled the whole time.

Junjie pursed his lips. He didn’t want to leave Edward’s shoulder in the way that it was, but he let Alphonse take off the automail. When Edward moved his hand away from his ribs, Junjie replaced it with his own. “You have a cracked rib,” he said, “It doesn’t seem to have broken or splintered anything. I’ll go ahead and heal that.” He turned around to get a small vial of secondary venom from the table and a package with a syringe. He unwrapped the new syringe and pulled some of the green-translucent liquid into it before flattening his hand over Edward’s ribcage and carefully injecting the fluid around the fracture and using his magic to help heal the bone. “This should take the soreness away after about a day. The bone will be weak for a while, maybe a week or two, so just be careful with it. It’s the same thing I did with your wrist.”

He then sat back. “About your leg, I don’t think there’s any muscle tears. At least I didn’t feel any earlier. Do you want me to check it out? I can also make you a sort of plant automail if you want, just enough so you can bend it and get around easier. It might take me a couple of hours and I’ll have to make a map of your port real quick, but I like building stuff.”

“Thanks,” Edward said as Junjie injected venom around his ribs. It was weird seeing it and feeling the pressure but not feeling the pain.

He could tell by the face Junjie made that he wasn't happy about the decision to let his shoulder be. But the kid (even if he was significantly older he couldn't think of him as anything else) had already done so much for him and the issues with his port didn't seem too bad. Without what was left of his arm it wasn't like he would be moving it around and aggravating the injury any. So long as there was no infection he figured it would be okay to leave it. The mention of getting a temporary leg made him perk up, though!

“I’d appreciate it,” he said with a grin, as he lifted his peg leg up to rest on the coffee table. “Much as I would love to see Winry’s face if she saw this I think it might be easier to get back home with a proper temporary replacement,” he chuckled.

Junjie bounced excitedly in his chair. “Sweet!! I’ll need you to take off your pants and the automail that’s left on the port so I can sketch it out.”

While he got up to get what he needed, Greed asked, “Have you done that before?” Junjie had talked a little bit about the things he was doing since he left, but he didn’t mention making automail.

Junjie dug around in a hallway closet while he answered. “Yeah. When I worked in the military in Aerugo, I was a medic there. I wasn’t an automail mechanic exactly, but I could make temporary stuff for soldiers on the field until they returned to their own mechanics.”

Edward stood when Junjie got up and started undoing his pants. That was easy enough to do with one hand. When he dropped back down, Al helped him get his boot off so he could shimmy out of his pants. He didn't particularly like having his arm and leg gone, even if there was no point in keeping on what was left. But it wasn't that much different than letting Winry work on his automail.

The setting was a little nicer, though. He wasn't sure did it was Greed's thrall or if he was too tired to be uncomfortable about his brother and Junjie being there but he tucked his foot under his thigh and settled himself under Greed's arm so he could lean into his side.

“So how many of you are coming with us to Resembool,” Al asked Greed, Edward assumed. He had closed his eyes, content to listen to everyone talk without adding much to the conversation himself.

Greed put his arm back around Edward and hugged him close, nuzzling his cheek against Edward’s head affectionately. Usually he wouldn’t be so affectionate in front of Alphonse, but it had been a rough night.

Junjie returned with a large drawing pad, a pencil, a ruler, and a compass. He made a big circle on the paper, then moved the chair and sat down in front of Edward with the paper, pencil and ruler so he could sketch out the map of his port.

“Wrath made me promise to take Edward out of the city,” Greed said. Junjie knew about the truce, but he wasn’t sure how much the others knew. “We have a week to leave, and we can’t come back. Well, Edward and I can’t come back. He didn’t say anything about you, or Junjie, or anyone else.”

“I can stay here and do some espionage,” Junjie began.

Greed quickly cut him off. “You are not staying here. I don’t want anyone going back down there, especially not you.”

Junjie glanced up at Greed, annoyed. “You know I’m on my own now, right?”

“You very much are not,” Greed argued, “I can still punish you.”

Junjie made a face, then went back to work.

“Junjie will come with us,” Greed continued to Alphonse, “At least for a little while until we figure out what we’re going to do. Elodie may or may not come, it’s up to him.”

“He’s kind of… snobby, about humans,” Junjie added helpfully.

Greed nodded. “Heinkel and Darius will stay here, they’ve got jobs and stuff in the city. I’m gonna have to quit my job in the morning.” He added the last part quietly, looking toward his piano. It had been eight years since he started working there.

“Sorry 'bout that,” Edward said, turning his head to nuzzle into Greed's neck a little. He was sur they could find him a piano to play somewhere. And it wasn't like they were never coming back. They just had to fall back for a while before coming back and tearing the coven apart.

“Hmm sorry about your job. But the rest sounds pretty fun, honestly. I can't wait to see what Granny and Winry think of you two. Though we may end up having to stay at our old house with all of us there. I don't know that there would be enough room at the Rockbell's.

He looked cautiously at Edward as he spoke. They hadn't been back to the house since their mother died. Not except for when they boarded it up. Looking at it one might not have known what all happened there. After all feral vampires were bound by the same laws as the more civilized ones. They still couldn't just come into a house without permission. There had been only a little blood in the front hall from their mother stumbling through before she died but most of it had been out on the front lawn and long since washed away.

Edward looked at Al with a sort of betrayed expression before it softened some and he sighed. The young man lifted his hand to rub at his face. He didn't want to go back there but all the same he had figured he would have to start some point.

“Think we can call ahead and see if Winry and Pinako will air it out for us?” he asked, closing his eyes again. He didn't have the energy to worry about all that stuff the moment. Whatever feelings he had about it could be dealt with when he and Greed were laying in his mother's bed trying not to think about the fact that it was his mother's bed.

Greed smiled a bit and rubbed Edward’s head comfortingly. “Honestly, if you’ve got a barn or something, I’d be happy to sleep in that.”

Junjie snorted. “Dad’s got a weird fascination with barns.”

“No I don’t,” Greed argued, “I just… okay, maybe it’s weird, but I like farm animals. They’re chill. Anyway, it’ll be nice to get out of the city for a while. I don’t think Ling’s been out of here since we merged. And before that he was obviously a city boy. That’ll be an adventure.”

“Alright,” Junjie said, standing up, “I’ve got your measurements. I’m going to start doing some blueprints. Meanwhile you can go shower or whatever you want. When you’re ready I’ll just have you lay on the couch while I start building.”

Edward chuckled and shook his head. They had a chicken coop and a garden. For a brief time they had even had a goat but that was it in the way of farm animals. The chickens weren't even there anymore.

“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind, but we don't have a barn. You’ll just have to sleep with me in a bed,” he said, dropping his hand on Greed's thigh and giving a sympathetic pat. When Junjie gave him the all clear to go take a shower, he heaved himself up onto his remaining leg. He hadn't been thinking of a shower but now that he was, boy did he want one. “Think a bath might be easier tonight. Wanna help me wash my back?”

The question was shot at Greed playfully, even as he swayed and hopped a little to keep his balance. The whole thing made Al groan, even as he reached up to put a steadying hand on Ed’s hip.

“If you're going to be so gross at least let Greed help you into the bathroom instead of hopping around!”

Greed laughed and stood up. He bent down a bit and picked Edward up bridal-style, careful of his shoulder and rib. “I’ll wash all of you, just say the word,” he said as he carried Edward into his bedroom. He could hear Junjie complain to Alphonse about him being sappy, but he paid no mind.

Elodie was already fast asleep, and didn’t wake up as Greed took Edward into the bathroom. It was a big bathroom, with a wide tub. “You can thank Elodie for the tub,” he said as he sat Edward down on the edge of it and turned on the water. “He made sure we got this apartment because of it. He likes his baths. How hot do you want the water?”

Edward told himself that the only reason he let himself get picked up was because he was too entertained by Junjie and Al whining to demand he be put down. Still, he didn't complain once they were out of sight. As a matter of fact he grinned all the way up until he was put down on the edge of the tub. Then it turned into a soft smile and he watched Greed fondly.

“Warm but not hot? Usually when it gets toasty out I take cold showers and baths but it's like being underground sucked all the warmth out of me,” he said. Or maybe that had just been Envy, he thought to himself as he rubbed at the new scar on his neck. “These aren't exactly the circumstances I wanted to drag you to Resembool under but I'm happy we’re going if I'm honest. The bathtub isn't as big back home but i don't know how well cut out I am for city life.”

Greed set the temperature to what he assumed was warm for Edward. He poured a little bit of liquid soap into the stream of water and watched it bubble up, a sort of melancholy expression on his face. He didn’t want it to be like this either. He had known what he was getting into, with agreeing to take down his mentor with Edward, but that didn’t make it any easier.

“It’ll be good,” he said after a few moments of silence, “To be away from all of this, for a little while.” He helped Edward out of his boxers and into the tub, and then undressed himself and climbed in behind him. “You can change the temperature if you want,” he said softly while he took the braid out of Edward’s hair and ran his fingers through it.

“Yeah,” Edward started, careful about lowering himself into the tub once Greed helped get him naked. The water was just about where he wanted it but he turned it up just a notch to compensate for Greed being a little cooler than the average person. That, of course, didn't stop him from leaning back against the man's chest when he sat being him and pulled his hair out of it's usual braid. “There are definitely some benefits to the time off. I don't mind going back home. Just wish that maybe we had gotten to switch on who interrogated who.”

He smiled a little at that, craning his neck back so he could press a kiss to Greed's jaw. He knew the man felt bad about the fact that the two of them getting close was part of what drew his siblings’ attention to him. Ed didn't blame him, though. He didn't think they would get out of what they were trying to do unscathed, but he had thought it might be a bit later in the game.

“You and Ling can help Winry design my new automail,” he offered with a grin as he laid his hand on Greed's knee and stroked up his thigh, no real intent behind its aimlessly wandering. “And we will get to watch Pinako and Junjie get into at least one shouting match, I'm sure.” The thought made him chuckle and he gave Greed's knee a squeeze when he got back to it. “Besides that, I kinda like the idea of getting to sleep in the same bed as you every night while we’re there, even if I'm not too fond of the idea of going back to my old house.”

Greed smiled, enjoying being close to Edward. He wrapped his arms around him and nuzzled against his cheek and neck, leaving behind small kisses. “We don’t have to go back to your house,” Greed whispered, “I know how places can hold bad memories.” He had plenty of them himself, all over the world. Places he couldn’t sleep, places he couldn’t walk on without painful memories haunting him with every step, places that made him ache with mourning for times in the past. “Besides, you and I should be sleeping during the day. You’ve got a sleep schedule to stick to. Sure we can’t just do what Elodie and I do, and take shifts?”

Edward laughed softly and smiled at all the kisses being rained down on his cheek and neck. He appreciated Greed's consideration but shook his head a little. The house he grew up in was just the most reasonable place for them to stay. Sure there would be room for at least him and Al if they stayed At the Rockbell's but he wasn't going to have Greed and Junjie roughing it. He didn't particularly want to sleep outside either and it wasn't like there were hotels in Resembool. It was barely a blip on the map. No one came out there to stuck around for any amount of time.

“I don't like the idea of staying at my old house but it makes sense that we stay there. With how short we live, us humans can’t afford to let grief weigh us down forever. I always planned on going back someday anyway. And… well part of me wants you to see it,” he said quietly, not really making an effort to bathe himself yet. He moved his fingers through the bubbles on top of he water and sucked on his bottom lip. “It's like the closest I can get to you meeting my mother, and a damn sight more cheery than the cemetery. Mama said you could always tell a lot about a lady by how she kept her house.”

Greed smiled against Edward’s neck. “Okay, baby,” he whispered, and left a kiss there. “I hope she likes me.”

It made him feel good to know that Edward wanted him to see such an important part of himself. He finally picked up the bar of soap and lathered it in his hands before rubbing it against the other side of his neck, where Envy had made their meal. “No one better touch you again like that,” he breathed into Edward’s ear, “Or I swear to God I’ll cook them alive.”

He was less angry now. He had forever to enact his revenge, and Edward was safe. Now, what he felt was possessiveness. Edward was his. The only other person who could touch Edward was Ling, unless Edward himself invited them. “You know, I’ll need another feeding in about a week. I can’t wait to get rid of my siblings’ stench they left in your blood.”

Edward would never own up to the stupid grin on his face when Greed called him baby. It was part that and part the feeling of him smiling against his neck and what he said. If his mother had had the chance to meet him, he thought she would like Greed. What he said about Envy though… well that had kind of a double effect. On the one hand it turned out he kinda liked having talk into his ear like that. On the other, he didn't like the idea of Envy leaving a scent on him, much less in his blood.

“Ew, you can smell them in my blood?” he asked, frowning even as he leaned into the other man’s touch like a cat eager to be petted. At least by the time Greed needed to feed again they would be in Resembool. “Is there anything you can do about that without feeding on me?”

Greed pressed his cheek against Edward’s. He couldn’t get enough of Edward’s warm skin. “I can,” he murmured, “My venom will destroy theirs. Do you want me to?”

When he got Edward’s consent, he put down the bar of soap and rinsed his hands off in the water before enthralling him. It was a more complex thrall, much like the one he had given Edward the first time he fed. With all of the pain Edward had been feeling that night, he deserved to feel good for a little bit.

He moved to the side of Edward’s neck where Envy had bitten, and lined his fangs up with the scars there. He didn’t want any trace of them left, not even the scars. He squeezed Edward’s waist when they pierced the skin, then let one hand run up and down the inside of Edward’s thigh. He didn’t take his fangs out to suck this time, but rather left them in and let his venom flow into Edward’s body. He didn’t want to think about how painful it must have been for Edward when Envy had done it, so instead he focused on making sure the involuntary shiver that went through Edward’s body was one of pleasure, and not pain. When he couldn’t taste Envy’s venom anymore, he pulled away just a little bit and let the secondary venom spread over the punctures for a bit longer so they healed better. “There,” he whispered when he was done, and kissed the spot gently. “You’re all mine.”

“Hmmm,” Edward hummed with a little chuckle and grinned when he felt himself being enthralled. “Need to be careful with this. I’mma forget how to do anything painful or uncomfortable without it,” he said, his words getting cut off with a gasp as Greed sank his fangs into his neck. He couldn’t help squirming just a little, especially with than hand moving along his inner thigh. A shiver coursed up his spine and his hand tightened on Greed’s thigh for a moment, accompanied by a soft moan.

He was almost disappointed when he felt the fangs leave his neck. The kiss and possessive claim on his person made him grin, though. Twisting in Greed’s arms, he moved so that he was resting more on his hip than his ass. It left his armless side pressed flush against Greed’s chest while his remaining arm reached around to curl around his waist. He leaned up and captured his mouth in a kiss, sweet and loving but not too heated. Much as he may have enjoyed it, he wasn’t feeling up to getting fondled just now, especially when his brother and Greed’s son were waiting on them in the living room. That didn’t mean he could make himself stop from getting as many kisses as he could out of the vampire.

“I think I might like being yours. Especially if you’re mine, too,” he said, breaking the kiss for just a moment before leaning in for another. “I feel like it’s weird that I like you so much so quickly but I can’t help it,” he said with a little shrug, sitting up a little so he could press their foreheads together and brush his nose affectionately against Greed’s.

Greed kissed back eagerly, leaning in to meet him each time and following him a little when Edward pulled away. He beamed with happiness when Edward said he couldn’t help but like him. “I’m all yours,” he responded, “And so is Ling, as you know.” He wanted to tell Edward that he loved him, but something held him back. It had been a rough night. He didn’t want to overwhelm the man.

So he took Edward’s head in his hands and kissed him again, hoping to convey his feelings that way instead. He deepened the kiss and ran his tongue over Edwards lips, but he kept it slow and savoring. Edward was his to love and cherish, and no one else could do anything about it.

Edward hummed softly, parting his lips for Greed and dragging his hand over the vampire’s stomach and chest as the kiss deepened. It was becoming clear that he and Greed were absolutely terrible at being productive when naked and alone. He didn’t much care though. Junjie and Al could afford to wait. It wasn’t like they’d be getting up to work later since Ed had been very forcefully given some vacation time. They had all night to wile away, kissing and waiting for the water in the tub to go cold.

“How is Ling by the way? I know you two share the same body and after everything he told me about his childhood I doubt this was his first kidnapping, but I haven’t heard from him since we got you topside,” he said, leaning back a little and biting his lip. It had crossed his mind that he might be showing an unfair amount of affection to Greed. “Can I talk to him a little,” he asked, cocking his head to the side.

Ling beamed and chuckled a little. “Aw, are you worried about me?” He said, poking Edward’s nose playfully. “There’s no need to be, really. This isn’t my first rodeo, like you said. Greed had it a lot worse than me. You should have seen him. Wrath had him hanging upside down from the ceiling, and he was close to passing out at one point. The man’s an ancient vampire and he can’t handle being held upside down for forty five minutes! And every time they taunted him and got him worked up he fell for it hook line and sinker. Had him thrashing around like a fish out of water. Like, I know he was worried about you but that just sapped his energy. I had to break through at some point just to get him out of trouble. I was upright and my blood was circulating normally in under five minutes. That’s why Bradley was finished with me so fast. He said he was gonna have to wait a lot longer for Greed to calm down enough to talk to.” He sighed dramatically. “As far as kidnappings go, this one was by far the least terrible for me.”

Edward’s nose wrinkled when poked but he was pleased to see that Ling was doing alright. He didn’t think he would be any worse off than Greed but he just wanted to make sure. Smiling, he leaned in to kiss the other man lightly on the lips, and then the nose, and then his cheeks.

Ling giggled happily when Ed kissed him. He loved the way Ed touched him so gently.

“Well I’m glad you got him out of there quick,” Edward said between kisses. “Because if I’d walked in there and found him dangling like that I probably would’ve taken my chances trying to find a way to attack Wrath. Or at least distract him.” He absolutely knew that might have gotten him killed but he would have done it anyway. It just would have felt too wrong to ignore to consider leaving him there. “And this was actually my first kidnapping. Really don’t want to repeat that any time soon.”

They were out, though, now, and everyone was safe. That was what really counted. He really wished that he had both arms to wrap around Ling’s waist as he leaned into him but he made do with the one, rubbing small circles into the soft skin of his lower back. “Are you excited to go to Resembool? You’ll get to taste some of the best beef stew I’ve ever had in my life,” he said with a grin. “And you can try Granny Pinako’s sweet tea, see if you like it any better than the stuff you tried at the restaurant.” A sly grin curled the corners of his mouth and he arched his brows. “And I bet you know the importance of having our own bed and not having to explain to anyone why they have to wait for us to change the sheets before they can take their turn to sleep.”

He chuckled at that thought. If they had stayed with the Rockbells and slept in shifts there was a chance that they would end up taking turns with Winry during their stay. Their spare room had two beds that Al and Junjie could use. The thing was, he was even more disturbed by the idea of fooling around in Winry’s bed with Greed than his late mother’s. At least Trisha couldn’t yell at them for ruining the sheets.

Ling perked up at the thought of food. He had never been to the country in Amestris before, and he really was excited to try the food. Before he could comment, though, Edward went and said that and he was taken over by more giggles and he squirmed under Edward’s hand and gaze. The hot water had his circulation flowing faster than normal, so he could feel his cheeks heating up already. “Edward,” he chided, then added softly while running his fingers over Edward’s chest, “There’s no sheets in here…” He looked back up at Edward and bit his bottom lip.

“No I don’t suppose there are, are there,” Edward chuckled, leaning back a little to give Ling a smirk. “Though… since I’m down a couple limbs I don’t know exactly what all we could get up to unless you feeling like being ah.. On top of the situation,” he said, barely holding back another laugh at his little pun. He had met a few people before who would have taken him up on the offer easily. He wasn't so sure Ling would, and that was fine because really, he didn’t feel that up to it. Not with Elodie just a door away and then Al and Junjie in the living room. They were bound to miss them sooner or later. Leaning up again he kissed Ling, soft and sweet.

“You know I’ve met some people who are really into my automail? Or rather, they’re really into the idea of fucking me without it. I always hated it! It just seemed so gross because the biggest thrill for them seemed to be that I wouldn’t be able to get away from them, ya know,” he said, reaching up to tuck a loose piece of hair behind Ling’s ear. “I don’t think I would mind with you and Greed, though. Partly because I know you very much like my automail,” he teased, wishing he had his other arm back so he could just give him a little pinch or something. “Partly because I don’t think either of you would take advantage of the fact that I’d be stuck without them. That being said… do you think you can wait just a little longer before we have sex?”

He didn’t think that Ling would do any more than pout a little. Still, he felt just a little nervous saying no. Not so much for fear of what Ling would do about it. Just… he didn’t want to disappoint him. Sucking on his bottom lip, he tucked his head into Ling’s shoulder and stroked his hand down the former hunter’s chest, all the way down to his lower stomach, so that the heel of his hand was resting above his dick. “We could do a little something else if you wanted?”

Ling chewed on his bottom lip. Edward was such a tease! He would certainly be on top if that was what Edward wanted, but it didn’t seem that he did. And the idea of someone wanting to take advantage of him made Ling feel a little sick to his stomach. He took Edward’s hand into his own hands and brought it to his lips to kiss it. “I love your automail,” he whispered. He liked that Edward trusted him, but he still wanted to assure him that he was safe, just for the sake of it. “I would never take advantage of you, Edward Elric. And you know Greed would systematically torture anyone who even suggested such a thing. But of course we can wait. I’ve waited twenty-three years for you to come along, after all.” He beamed and leaned in to kiss Edward softly on the lips. “You’re my dream man, you know that? What do they say in Amestris… my white knight? Prince Charming?”

“Prince Charming would probably be the one you’re looking for. You’ve been the one saving me from most things lately. Wins you the title of white knight,” Edward said when the kiss was broken, feeling utterly charmed, despite how cheesy Ling was being. It made him chuckle quietly and steal another kiss. “Actually Prince Charming probably fits you better, too. You make it sound like I’m your end all, be all, not just someone you’re meeting on your way between now and then.”

Of course he had seen through Greed’s memories that all his past lovers had been special in their own way. Even though he wasn’t the first or last, considering how long-lived he was, he knew that if nothing else, he’d be remembered fondly. The thought almost brought tears to his eyes all the same, thinking of the fact that Greed would probably watch him grow old and die, like he had others. If he made it to the growing old part, that is. Hunters didn’t exactly have a history of longevity.

“Feel free to keep doing it, though. I like feeling special,” he teased, swallowing back the ball of emotion that had formed in the back of his throat. It was silly, anyway. He didn’t need to go worrying about the future like that when they had barely scraped through the present.

Ling chuckled and pulled Edward closer. He took the bar of soap and started to wash him, appreciating the feel of his warmth under his hands. “You are absolutely special,” he said, “And I know Greed’s had a lot of lovers, but I haven’t. I mean, I’ve slept with a lot of men, but you’re my first boyfriend. I need to take you on a date, actually.” He pouted. “I wish I could have done that before we had to go to Resembool. I was planning something really nice for about a week from now. I don’t know where I’ll get the ingredients I need out there.”

Edward hummed and smiled as Ling started to wash him. Really, for someone dating a prince he was the one spending the most time being pampered. He was going to have to ask for Ling to front every time they bathed together. Pressing a kiss to his neck, Ed stroked his hand comfortingly over Ling’s side.

“Well what do you need? We have a week before we have to go but honestly it won’t take Al and I that long to pack up. If what you need will keep we can take it to Resembool with us. Or if worse comes to worse you’ll just have to settle for me taking you on a date. Those bonfires are a bit bigger now-a-days.” He grinned and nudged the bridge of his nose up against the other man’s jaw. “And you know just because we’re in the country doesn’t mean I won’t dance with my first boyfriend if we go,” he pointed out before leaning back a little to give Ling a curious look. “You’re kind of my first anything, really. I never actually got around to dating girls either. The ones I slept with weren’t my girlfriends or anything. Not that they weren’t perfectly nice girls. But really it was more me trying to see what all the fuss was surrounding sex and trying to be normal.”

He wrinkled his nose a little at that. Just because he was ridiculously hard-headed and had been through a lot at a young age didn’t mean he was entirely unaffected by his peers or how some people thought he was rather strange, not just for not sleeping with women. If he made a habit of sleeping with men then at least they would have had a reason for why he wasn’t chasing skirts like a lot of boys his age. He hadn’t been doing that either, though. Over the past few years he’d built up a thicker skin to it, feeling like he was happier just being odd rather than trying to fit in. While sex with the few girls he’d been with had felt good he hadn’t seen why people were so obsessed with it and was pretty sure that anything he did with Ling and Greed would be infinitely better, if only because he was already practically addicted to all this soft, sweet stuff they were doing now.

Every time Edward kissed him, Ling was overcome with giddy joy. He felt a little ridiculous with how much he was giggling, especially in comparison to Greed, but being ridiculous was okay. He squirmed under Edward’s touches, and his cheeks were starting to hurt from all the blushing and grinning.

“Well, Greed can help us along,” he said, “He’s pretty good at this stuff. But I’d love it if you took me on a date. My meal plans will have to wait because it needs fresh ingredients.” Once Edward was washed off, he started to wash himself. “You know, it’s pointless for me to try and keep a secret from Greed but he won’t tell you because he thinks it’s dumb so I’m going to tell you. He really wants to learn how to play the banjo. Do you have one in Resembool?”

You little shit.

Honestly, Ling didn’t understand why Greed was so reserved with stuff like that. Who cared if someone thought it was dumb? With the way Greed dressed sometimes, it didn’t make sense that he’d be so concerned about what anyone thought.

Edward’s eyes lit mischievously and he grinned. He thought it was absolutely adorable that Greed wanted to learn the play the banjo. Maybe because it just seemed like such a silly instrument to give to a centuries old creature of the night. But he supposed that could have been said for most instruments. There were just certain connotations (of the redneck and hillbilly kind) associated with banjos that made it kinda funny. He didn’t laugh, though.

“Pinako could probably teach him. She taught my mom a little before she died. She liked to play instruments too, you know,” he said with a little smile. “She taught Al how to fiddle a little. Or at least enough to keep up with what we play at the bonfires. I…” His brow furrowed slightly as he tried to grab a hold of the memory. “I was fascinated with guitars for a very short while, when I really little. I think my dad used to play one. After he left I just refused to be sat down with one,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. He had some vague memories of his mother trying to sit him down with a little guitar and teach him the basics. He just wasn’t having any of it because he didn’t want to be like his father anymore.

He shrugged that thought off and grinned. There was no point dwelling on it. His dad was gone and he was old enough to not need him anymore. Or that was how he felt anyway. “Maybe Greed can teach me and Al a thing or two. Winry can play spoons. We can have ourselves a little band,” he said, unable to help snickering quietly then. He really couldn’t wait for Greed and Ling to meet what little family he had in Resembool. Even for all the fights he was pretty sure he’d have to break up at some point.

He interrupted Ling’s washing himself, unable to keep from reaching up to cup his cheek with his hand and kiss him a few times. Aside from the fact that he liked Ling’s giggling, he just really wanted to do it because despite all that had happened and the reason they were leaving he was starting to get a little excited about the whole thing. “I can’t wait for you to meet them all. I even want you to meet my teacher. But she lives in Dublith and would probably try to kill you as soon as she saw you. Old woman can spot a vampire from a mile away.”

God damn, Greed mumbled.

Ling snickered. “I think Greed will want to learn everything,” he said, “I can’t imagine he’ll leave here without a few instruments. I personally think the guitar is overrated.”

That’s because you’ve only heard guitars that people here play in the street, Greed argued.

Ling was about to reply but then Edward touched him and kissed him, and another slew of giggles distracted him from whatever he was about to say. He kissed back happily, until Edward started to talk again. “I’d be honored to spar with your teacher,” he said with a bit of wonder in his tone, “Maybe we could visit her too?”

Being Xingese, and being a prince, Ling had a lot of respect for teachers of all kinds, especially those of battle. He wished he could show Edward his own teachers, but most of them had died, being in old age when he was still human. The others that were still alive probably despised him now.

Edward let out a nervous chuckle at the suggestion and shrugged a little. It wasn't really on the way to Resembool but it wasn't that far away. He supposed it was feasible. He just wasn't sure he wanted to do it.

“Maybe after we get my automail sorted out we can head to Dublith.” That is if she didn't come to Resembool. Oh god, it was entirely possible that she might because he was pretty sure that she and Winry talked. “I would like to see how well you stand up against her,” he admitted, laughing quietly. “She and Al are the only people I’ve never been able to beat in a fight. And part of that is just because I won't play dirty with Al like I would with a stranger.”

Ling grinned and bounced a little bit in excitement, and the water splashed around them. “A true mentor!” He said, “I wonder how that battle would play out. I’ve never resisted the urge to play dirty. That was ingrained in me since I was a child. I hope there are things she can teach me, too.” His eyes widened as though he just realized something. “You know, I haven’t left Central City since I merged with Greed. Well, since I was disgraced in Xing. I came back. Well, really I let Greed just bring me back. I wasn’t… in a good place then. But I’m sure there’s so much out there for me to learn and challenges to overcome.”

He bit his lip and looked to the side, thinking out loud. “I haven’t really thought about going back to Xing. I’ve thought about taking you there, a lot, I think about it every day when I go to sleep really, but it’s always just me taking you to places and teaching you things. I haven’t thought about facing my sister or mother, or seeing Lan Fan…”

Lan Fan was much older now. So was his sister. They were what, forty-something? And he was still forever nineteen. Maybe Lan Fan had forgiven him for giving up. Maybe his sister had forgotten about him. Maybe his mother was ashamed of him.

“I need to go back,” he said quietly, thoughtfully, “At some point. I need to show them I didn’t give up.”

Ed sat up a little when Ling started bouncing. His childlike enthusiasm was so cute. How could he deny him a trip to see Izumi now. He still wanted to wait until his arm and leg were back but he couldn’t see himself denying Ling once he was all in one piece.

“Well I think I have a slightly better relationship with Al than you do most of your siblings. I’m always fighting with him for fun, not for my life,” he pointed out. Sparing with Al was all about having fun, showing off, and practice. “In a real fight I’m a lot less honorable about things.”

He watched as the enthusiasm slowly faded and smiled gently at the former prince of Xing. If Ling wanted to drag him all through Xing he would let him. He’d go with him to see his sister and his friend as well. At that moment he felt like he’d follow the other man around the world and back if he only asked.

“We’ll go then. We can go show your sister and your friend that you’re still kicking around in there, joining forces with insane blonde hunters who want to take down the government,” Ed assured, scooting closer and wrapping his arm more tightly around Ling. Though this time he didn’t tuck his head into his shoulder. He nudged it up against Ling’s and smiled. “And you can show off the super sexy beast you picked up in Amestris! You did say everyone would be after me in Xing, yeah? If nothing else goes right we can always just wander around and make people jealous.”

Ling’s smile was back when Ed cuddled up to him. “Absolutely,” he said, and chuckled a little, “I’ll protect you from everyone. I don’t think you even realize. Did you know we don’t have automail in Xing? We have a lot of things Amestris doesn’t have, but that’s something Amestris has a foot up on. I’ve heard Xingese scientists are getting close to replicating it, though. So you’ll definitely be getting starstruck looks. Also, Amestris is so strange because foreigners are considered ugly. In Xing, pretty much everyone has dark hair and dark eyes that look like mine. When a blonde person shows up, it’s like a unicorn just walked past. Most of the time, people from other places are considered especially beautiful and unique. It can get weird sometimes, especially when you’re trying to find employment, or so I’ve heard. I’ve talked to some people here who have traveled to Xing, and they say they get a lot of people wanting to take your photograph, and people asking you to be an actor for their playhouse. Apparently blonde men with beards are especially popular with women. And blue eyes are all the hype.” Ling rolled his eyes. “That always annoyed me. I will never forget my teenage crush telling me he found a pretty blue-eyed girl. She wasn’t foreign, but I think she had some sort of abnormality that made her eyes blue. Not even blue like the blue you get here, but more like a gray. But that’s close enough to blue for them it was stunning. I remember thinking, I can lift you above my head and do squats on one foot. What do you see in her?! I didn’t know how to express my feelings though so I challenged him to a duel. He said he’d rather hang out with his girlfriend.” Ling wrinkled his nose in distaste. “She wasn’t even pretty.”

Edward smiled, making a quiet humming noise as he stroked his hand over Ling’s back and listened to him speak. He thought it was kinda cute, if a bit sad, that Ling’s crush got stolen from him by some poor unknowing girl. He bet she was probably nice, despite the fact that Ling hated her so at the time. Shifting a little, he started to play with Ling’s hair as little, twirling the long strands around his fingers.

“Not all foreigners are ugly to us. Some people are actually really gross and fetishy about Xingese women. There was one man in Resembool that I absolutely couldn’t stand. He was one of those ‘Good ol Boy’ types. He was always going on about getting an obedient little Xing girl who knew her place and shit like that because none of the women in town wanted anything to do with him. Once I was in town and saw an Ishvalan girl. I don’t know what she was there for but we live close enough to where their territory was before the war that we occasionally see them. Anyway this man starts hollerin at her in front of everyone, asking how ‘yall savage Ishvalan girls’ were making due without having their dragons to fuck.”

He frowned deeply at that. Winry had been the first to start yelling back at the man and then he and Al had followed. At some point it had turned into a shouting match between the four of them and by the time the dust had settled the girl had disappeared. Not that he blamed her, poor thing. She couldn’t have been any older than they were at the time, maybe sixteen.

“People are just mean here,” he said after a moment, frown still present. “It isn’t everyone but it’s almost like this disease sinking its teeth into everyone. Seems like a lot of people think it’s their business to make other people feel like shit. I’ve never been tall enough for any of the girls I ever tried to date. Brief though that period in my life was. Didn’t bother much with guys because it was more difficult to actually find a guy to try and date and because I figured they’d have the same hangups. Winry always got flack for being too much like a man. She doesn’t just make automail. She’s great with machines! You need your tractor fixed, and fixed right, she’s the one you call. Kitchen appliance on the fritz? Winry can fix it.” She’d never been one to particularly stick to what people thought she should be doing and he loved that about her. Having her as a friend help him develop the personality he had today. If people didn’t like it, they could fuck off.

Before he kept on rambling about everything wrong with the beauty myths in Amestris, he shook the thoughts out of his head and then grinned up at Ling. “Anyway! Lucky for you, I’ve only got eyes for one Xingese man and I happen to think he’s quite attractive. Even if the rest of Amestris doesn’t. So no one’s going to have much luck trying to steal me away to be their model or actor or whatever. And your crush obviously didn’t know what he was missing out on,” he teased, plating a kiss on Ling’s lips before slowly pulling away again. “We should probably get out soon, though. We’re getting pruney.” He lifted his hand out of the water and wiggled his wrinkled fingers to emphasize the point.

Ling was intimately familiar with what Edward was talking about. In his experience, it wasn’t entirely people being mean (as people were mean in Xing too), it was xenophobia, and racism. Greed had never paid much mind to it, being as old as he was and seeing as much as he had. But Ling noticed.

It was hard not to notice when half of the men he’d slept with had approached him because they had a misconception about Xingese men being weak and girly. He’d used it to his advantage to get attention, since Amestrian men somehow felt less guilty about fucking a Xingese man than they did about fucking another Amestrian man, but there were many times where it went awry. Like the time he’d let four men take turns with him after offering to pay for his obedience, only for them to try to take off without holding up their end of the deal because they didn’t think he would do anything about it. He’d broken one’s arm to get his money and whatever else was in that man’s wallet, of course, but it had left him feeling sick. Even if he’d immensely enjoyed it during the act, the fact that they treated him like that and actually meant it was pathetic. He remembered lamenting that night about what he had become since his fall from royalty.

He was going to tell this to Edward, but his thoughts were interrupted by Edward’s brilliant smile, and he forgot all about it. Edward’s praise, and his sweet lips were honestly all Ling needed. He didn’t even need food.

Well, he might need food sometimes.

He took Edward’s hand in his own and brought it to his lips to kiss it. “I love you,” he whispered, looking sweetly at Edward.

Edward's smile dropped and he jolted as if struck. He didn't try to jerk back his hand or anything but it did go suspiciously limp in the other man’s hand. Those three little words could mean quite a lot when said by the right person and in the right way. They could lift you higher than the trees. And that was really where the danger lay. It could lift you up but it rarely let you down gently. He’d seen as much happen with his mother. She loved his father until the day she died and he’d walked out without a care in the world what it did to her.

“I’m scared to love you,” he said suddenly, looking down around Ling’s throat when he spoke. Swallowing thickly, he pulled back his arm and wrapped it around himself. Fuck, he wished he had the other one, his leg too. Because suddenly he felt very vulnerable. It was partially because of what Ling had said and partially because of the feeling of giddiness that had rocketed through his ribcage before fear had overwhelmed his senses. Maybe he loved Ling and Greed too. Or… something? He definitely felt something for them and he was actually terrified of it being love. And it had only just barely been a month!

Could someone actually develop such strong feelings after such a short time? Taking a couple deep, wavering breaths, he laughed. Human emotions were so… unpredictable and scary.

“My mother loved my father more than anything and I hate him for it. Because she missed him so much when she left. She never loved anyone else either. She died, in love with the man who left her alone, with two children to look after in a countryside being torn apart by war and vampires! He never wrote! Never called! She loved him till the very end and he didn’t give a fuck about her,” he said heatedly, his vision had gotten a little blurry and he shifted around so his back was to Ling again. “I don’t want to be like her. I’m scared to love you so much that you can hurt me like that.”

Ling watched with curiosity and sadness at how Edward shrunk into himself. He was quiet for a moment, not wanting to pull Edward closer after he had pulled away.

Greed knew a lot about this. He knew a lot about love, and heartbreak, and loss, and healing. But he was silent, even when Ling wanted his help. Maybe he had to figure this out himself.

He let the silence settle between them while he thought about what Edward was saying. He had never had that kind of loss. His father had never loved him nor his mother. He never had any illusions of love from his family. But he’d loved before, and he’d lost. He’d felt heartbreak.

“There’s different kinds of love,” he said eventually, “they all have the potential to hurt. You love your brother. You love your friends, you love Sasha, you love the people and the things that make your life more whole. Just because I’m your boyfriend doesn’t mean you have to love me the way your mom loved your dad. For example, I love you because you make me smile, and you’re a gift to the world that I’m grateful to be able to be with. I love Lan Fan even after twenty years of being apart, because she was my partner, and we understood each other. Sort of like how I love Greed.”

Ling rested his elbow on the edge of the tub and put his chin on his hand. “And it’s okay if you don’t want to be vulnerable,” he said, “I don’t mind if you take your time. But I’m still going to love you, regardless.”

Edward was quiet for a while, listening to Ling and playing with the little mounds of bubbles that drifted his way. It was different loving Sasha, Al, and Winry. After everything he didn't fear that they might abandon him like his father had done to them and his mother. He turned his face into his shoulder and wiped at a tear that had managed to creep past the waterline of his eye.

But then that was part of Ling's point, he supposed. That everyone loved differently. It just felt like this kind of love was so much more dangerous than loving a friend or family member. Not because he would be any less devastated by the loss but because this was someone who was nearly a stranger compared to the people who had loved him and who he had learned to love from childhood, and through times when he had been at his most unlovable.

“You can love me all you want,” he finally said, quiet but not unkind. “I just don't know if I can say it back yet,” he murmured, not yet looking back at Ling. He wasn't sure what he was scared of seeing in his face but be was sure there would be something there.

Maybe some sort of disappointment or sadness. One of those emotions that would leave him wishing that Ling had yelled at him he always felt like he took hurt better than he gave it out, especially with the people he loved and cared about. He didn't give a shit about hurting people who he didn't like or found himself morally opposed to. He may feel a bit bad about hurting the feelings of a well meaning stranger. When it came down to people he loved, though. Well, he would rather go a few rounds with Envy than make them cry.

Ling sighed. “Edward,” he said. He reached out and touched his shoulder, then curled his hand under Edward’s chin to gently urge him to look back. “Edward, look at me.”

It took some work, shuffling forward to peek around him and guiding his face to the side, but eventually he managed to get Edward to look at him, and he smiled. “There we go,” he said quietly, “You don’t have to say anything to me. When other people say it they might be expecting something in return but I don’t. I said it because I wanted you to know. And I’ll keep saying it when it feels right. And if you never say it back, that’s okay with me. Because…” He chewed on his lip and looked away for a few seconds to get his words right. “I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve cried about it and asked Greed to help me about it, about losing you someday, which is going to happen in one way or another, and then I realized… no love is ever perfect, from looking back on all of Greed’s loves. Either they didn’t last long enough, they didn’t make him feel loved enough, they left, they lost feelings, whatever happened, but one thing was the same throughout: Greed still loved them, regardless. And he felt pain but he also felt so much happiness and gratitude, and that’s what I want too. Humans say that life is too short to never be in love, but for me, for Greed and I, life is too long to go through without loving somebody. And even if you wake up tomorrow and decide you want nothing to do with me, I’ll still love you, because I made that decision. And it might hurt, if you don’t say it back after a while, but I’ll get over it. I’ve got Greed to help me. You’re special, and you’ve earned a place in that big pile of memories and artwork and songs Greed has for all the special people in his life, whether you want to be there or not.”

Edward hated the tingly sensation that started up in his nose and around his eyes when their eyes met. It wasn't quite like the urge to cry. Maybe it was just part of the urge to look away that also had him clenching his jaw in determination to hold the other man’s gaze. When Ling finished his little speech, though, he gave up and shoved himself into the young prince's space so he could hide his face against his shoulder.

“That's sappy and gross,” he said childishly. It was also such a beautiful sentiment. Ed actually felt selfish for wanting to let himself wallow in all the affection and love that solemn voice promised him. Because he wasn't so sure he felt that strongly yet. Or that he ever could. He certainly felt something, though.

Ling chuckled softly when Edward hugged him, happy that he at least wasn’t sulking anymore. “Of course it is,” he said easily, “and you’re going to have to deal with it, so… there.”

Suddenly, Edward didn't want to leave just yet. The whole conversation had left him feeling a little raw and exposed. “How much longer till they come looking for us, you think?”

Ling kissed the top of Edward’s head while Greed said, Don’t worry about taking too long. Junjie needs a couple of hours to build his stuff anyway.

“Greed said we have time,” Ling said, “Junjie has to build the automail and that will take a while. Are you getting cold? The water is still pretty warm to me so I can’t tell. We can turn it on again to heat it up.”

“I think I’d like that,” Edward said tiredly before scooting forward and pulling the plug to drain out some of the cold water before turning on the tap again and starting to fill the tub with water that steamed as it came out of the faucet. “Let me know if it gets warm enough to bother you.”

He leaned back against Ling and closed his eyes. Part of him just never wanted to leave the bathroom. After getting kidnapped, beaten up, and having an emotional heart to heart with Ling he felt exhausted. “When are we going to leave,” he asked quietly, lifting his hand to press his thumb into the center of his forehead and rub tiny circles into his skull. “Honestly Al and I could probably be ready to go sometime tomorrow. But we didn’t exactly bring a whole lot of stuff when we moved out here.”

Ling wrapped his arms around Edward’s middle and nuzzled into his neck. He was so happy to have Edward in his arms.

“Mm. Greed’s going to need at least a day to get his stuff together. He has things he takes with him everywhere and I’m sure he’ll want to bring them. I have things I want to bring too, pretty much all of my stuff. Especially since I’m not sure how secure this apartment will be from now on. And he has to talk to Elodie about what the plan is for now. And I’d like to go by some places. I’ve known a lot of good citizens here, and I want them to know I appreciate them. It means a lot to me when someone is nice to me.”

He idly rubbed his lips behind Edward’s ear for a moment. “Tell me about the animals you have in Resembool. And the plants, and climate. I’ve never been and I’ve only seen Greed’s memories. Lots of hills and fields, and a few forests, right?”

Edward hummed quietly, not saying anything at first. He just let the water creep up his sides as he relaxed into the vampire behind him and listened. In his mind he was forming a rough plan on getting things packed, calling Winry, getting tickets for the train. He and Al could do it in a day but it would be easier to draw it out, let Greed and Ling get their affairs in order.

“Yeah, lots of hills and fields,” he replied with a small smile. “There’s little pockets of woods all over. It’s going to be getting warm around now and kind of windy.” Licking his lips, he started to trace his fingers in circles around Ling’s knee cap in thought. “We’ve got deer, squirrels, raccoons, possums, rabbits. All your usual forest critters. Few coyotes and foxes too. Sometimes have to run them out of your yard if you have chickens. Them and snakes.” Every now and then a chicken snake would curl itself up by the front steps and he had always been fascinated with their dark scales and how they reflected almost like a rainbow.

“There's going to be a lot of people out working their fields and getting things planted. And you’re going to see a lot of cows out grazing. Some horses too, and sheep, and goats. We also have a lot of dogs,” he grinned, thinking of the quick little black and white sheep dogs that would dart around the sheep and guide them home before dark fell. “We have some to herd the sheep. Some even go around pulling small carts and stuff.Anyone with a hound that lives near the station will howl whenever the train goes by.”

“I don’t know what half of these things are,” Ling whispered while Edward was describing the animals. He hoped Greed would help him out, but he was being suspiciously quiet.

He knew what most of the farm animals were. “I like dogs,” he said, “Especially working dogs. I always wanted one.”

Talking about home helped calm him down some. That was probably Ling’s intent the whole time and he really appreciated it. “You know we even have some fruit trees? There are apples where it gets a little more hilly. And blackberries grow up on the fence posts lining the road. Can vampires get drunk? That old lesbian couple I told you about before make a really great sangria you might like. It’s wine with a bunch of fruit soaking in it and it’s great!”

Ling smiled. “Not on alcohol,” he said, “Though I can start feeling it some when I drink a lot. I guess it’s the human half of us that feels it. There’s other stuff that can affect vampires, though. I think the closest to alcohol that we have available is fairy blood.” He grinned mischievously while Greed groaned. “You might like seeing Greed on that stuff. It’s pretty funny.”

Tell him Junjie can grow some fruit trees for the locals or something.

“Greed is trying to deflect,” Ling said, “He says Junjie can grow fruit trees when we get there. He’s always ready to make quick money, I guess.”

Not that Junjie wouldn’t do something like that just out of the goodness of his heart, but… the kid was resourceful.

“I might like to see him drunk on fairy blood but I might get jealous of the fairy he gets it from,” he teased. Well.. sort of. The thought of Greed feeding off Elodie or something did make him prickle just a little. “Who knows. You two might like making me jealous though. I don't really know how I would act. I’ve never had anyone to be jealous of,” he mused.

Besides he might have more fun showing Ling some of the wild life and suritting out on the back porch and listening to o the night time noises. He could identify owl hoots and coyotes crying. Foxes screaming and the occasional swoop of bats against the setting sun. He couldn't wait.

When the water got high enough, Ling lifted his foot to turn off the faucet. “I doubt Greed would want to drink from Elodie if he has you anyway,” he said, “And honestly, I’d like any attention you give me. I know I like it when Greed gets possessive of me.”

“What kind of wild animals do you have in Xing?”

Ling blew air out of his mouth. “There’s a lot,” he said, “Xing is… very different than Amestris. The climate varies a lot, since Xing is so big. There’s places that are very hot and desert-like, places like northern Amestris that are very cold, places with huge mountains and places with tropical rainforests. I know we have the most diverse plant life there than anywhere in the world. Biologists come to Xing a lot to study there. As for the animals… there’s the huli, which is like, a little smaller than Sasha, but it’s got a poofy tail and it’s orange or white. I’ve seen them in Amestris before but I don’t know what you call them and Greed is being an ass and won’t tell me what the word is. There’s the laohu, which are very very big cats that have orange and black stripes. They’re not very common. I think you call them tigers? We’re especially known for the xiongmao, or the panda bear. We also have many different types of monkeys. They’re a pain in the ass sometimes. I want to take you to the rainforests. One time I had to survive there for two months while avoiding some of my siblings who were trying to kill each other. It was a really cruel test. I had Lan Fan, though, and it was the first time I really got to experience the motherland in all her glory. It’s a very humbling feeling, to be there, with trees towering above you and the sounds of birds and monkeys and bugs all around you. And seeing a laohu in the distance, watching you, and you don’t know if you’re about to be its lunch, but then it turns around and walks away. It’s very easy to understand why so many people in the more remote parts of Xing worship nature.”

Edward listened avidly. The only thing he could think of to describe a huli might be a fox but he didn't interrupt. Panda bears and tigers he had heard of. He could remember the pictures that were in some of his dad's books but he didn't think they did what Ling was describing justice. He wanted to see these dangerous ancient forests as much as the younger prince wanted to show them to him.

“We don't have them as much in Resembool but I think the biggest cat we have in Amestris is a mountain lion. Some people call them pumas. We have smaller wild cats back home called bobcats. They have these stubby little tails and ears that have whips of fur coming of the tips. We also have bears and wolves further north. Still doesn't sound as exciting as Xing, though,” he chuckled, leaning his head back against Ling's shoulder.

“I can't wait for you two to show me the world. When I was little I always wanted to see absolutely everything the world had to offer. Then I realized money was a thing.”

Ling kissed Edward’s cheek when he leaned back. “Well you don’t have to worry about money anymore,” he said, “We have more than plenty.”

They sat in comfortable silence for a moment, then Ling started to give him a massage, starting from his collarbones and moving up to his neck and then shoulder muscles. “You should let me give you a real massage sometime,” he said, “I’ve gotten really good at it. You remember how fairies are a lot more social than humans? Well, they need more skin contact than we do or they get depressed, so sometimes Elodie and I will give each other massages, or Heinkel or Darius will do it with him. It’s kind of like how cats and monkeys groom each other. It’s also one reason why Greed is so touchy with Junjie. I think it’s cute. I personally prefer Heinkel’s massages. He does it really hard, and it hurts for a few days but then it feels so nice after. Elodie is too gentle.”

Edward hummed to show he was listening, though he had moved a little so Ling could get at his neck more easily. He had rubbed his own neck plenty of times. It usually got sore on the right side, he presumed from the weight of his automail. Honestly, if it didn't hurt so much to put back in he probably would take it off more often to take the strain off the muscles. Of course with those muscle tears that Junjie mentioned he probably wouldn't be wearing any for a while.

“I'm sure you can convince me, especially once my shoulder is healed up. I don't think I’ve ever had a massage before. Not a proper one anyway.” Winry, Al, and Pinako had massaged medicinal lotions and potions into his shoulders and back, wherever he may have been hurt to promote healing and ease pain but it wasn't anything like this.

He let out a low groan when Ling's fingers found a particularly stiff bundle of muscle. His hand squeezed Ling's thigh because it hurt a little having it prodded at, but felt so damn good that he wouldn't dare ask him to stop.

Ling focused on that tight muscle for a few seconds, working at it until it started to loosen up a bit and then moving away from it with the intention of coming back after giving it a little bit to rest. “I think it’s pretty important,” he said, “Especially if you’re trying to improve your fitness. Back when I trained every day, I’d have a basic massage every night and then a deep tissue massage once a month. It really helped to keep my muscles from getting too tight during training. The worst is pulling a muscle when you’re trying to pull a cart with a horse in it across a field and you’re only halfway there.” He giggled softly and ran his hand up and down Edward’s arm. “It’s silly, but my favorite part is when they do my hands.” He brought his other hand around to flip Edward’s palm up and started massaging his hand. “It feels so nice, like a fancy hand-holding. Have you heard of yoga? It was introduced to Xing a really long time ago, but I know it’s becoming a thing in Amestris too. You probably haven’t, because it’s still pretty new to the city, and it hasn’t really caught on. It’s like… meditation, but it involves moving your body in different poses. I still do it pretty often. I’d like to do it with you sometime. Maybe after you get your automail.”

He moved away a bit and guided Edward around so he could lean forward against the side of the tub. “This isn’t the best position, but I wanna do your back too,” he said, squeezing behind Edward and starting to run his hands over his back, gentle at first but gradually using more pressure. “Tell me if that’s too hard. Or not hard enough.”

He hoped Edward was feeling better. It had been a rough night, and they had a big change coming. He knew Edward was tough, but that didn’t stop him from wanting him to feel alright.

Pulling a horse in a cart, across a field huh? Sounds like something Izumi would do. It seemed like far too much effort to actually open his mouth and mention that, though. What with the fact that he was currently being rubbed into a puddle and wondering why he never sought out a proper massage in the first place.

“I actually have heard of yoga. Al still does it. I should do it more. Our teacher had us doing it as a form of meditation. Apparently she was hoping it would make me calm down some.” He always had trouble with some of the poses that required more balance at first. Not because he was clumsy but because he would get lost in thought and let the post drop. “I bet you would like doing yoga out in Resembool. It's more quiet than here,” he said, shifting a little to make it easier for Ling to move behind him. When he started massaging his back the blond let out a moan and stretched forward like a cat. “You can watch the sun come up from the back porch and hear the birds start waking up. Roosters crowing. It's nice,” he said, though it was unclear if he was talking about the hands on his back or the scenery of his hometown.

Ling was surprised that Edward had heard of yoga. “Your teacher must be well-rounded,” he said, “Not many Amestrians outside of the city know the practice, I’m pretty sure.” He smiled when Edward showed his appreciation for the massage, and took the bar of soap to rub between his hands to make the movements more smooth. “It does sound nice, in Resembool. It sounds a little like how it is in the rural parts of Xing. I used to train there once in a blue moon. It was a blessing. Of course I’ve heard Resembool is very hot. Compared to the cool breeze and rainy atmosphere of the place I went, I’m sure it’s a lot different. And more monkey calls than roosters.” He focused on pushing his hands from Edward’s middle back up to his trapezius muscles, using more force on his uninjured shoulder. He continued for a while, until his hands tingled and the water was reaching the same temperature as before Edward had warmed it up. He hummed softly. “Are you asleep?” He whispered when he peered around and saw Edward with his eyes closed and looking peaceful.

He was so beautiful, Ling thought.

Edward thought a lot but didn't say much when Ling was comparing Resembool to Xing. Like how Izumi may not have been entirely Amestrian. In some ways she had actually looked a bit like Ling. Not as though they were related but as if they had come from the same place. He also wondered how monkey howls stacked up to coyotes crying at night or foxes when they screamed. Ed didn't think he had fallen asleep but he certainly lost track of time. It took longer than he would have liked to admit to peel his eyes open and turn his head to look At Ling. Maybe he had fallen asleep a little. He felt like he could at any moment now.

He hummed but didn't actually say anything, just leaned around to plant a sleepy, light kiss on Ling's lips before starting to sit up. Blinking a few times, he looked around the bathroom, and the reached up to rub at his eyes.

“We have to get out don't we,” he asked, giving the edge of the tub a distasteful look. He could probably have hauled himself out but it would be easier to just let Ling help him. And after that massage he didn't feel like struggling. “Help me up. And I didn't really think about this before but uh.. do you have clothes I can wear?”

Ling kissed back lovingly. “You’re so cute,” he mumbled, “Give me a minute.” He stood up and stepped out of the bath, then dried off his hands and arms with a towel before wrapping it around his waist so he wouldn’t be too slippery. He helped Edward out of the tub and sat him on the toilet lid before handing him a towel and stepping out into the bedroom.

Elodie was still asleep, but there was a thunderstorm charm in the room now, so apparently he’d gotten tired of hearing them being sappy. Ling dug through his drawers and put on some pyjamas, then got some boxers and a sleeveless shirt for Ed to wear. He returned to the bathroom and helped him into the clothes. “I’ll get you some pants when you’ve got the new leg on, but Junjie needs to get to the port first,” he said.

“I don't care about pants right now anyway,” Edward said as he wiggled into the boxers and pulled on his borrowed shirt. He was a little surprised they it fit him so well. Not that Ling was very much broader than him but he was taller and he expected that to make the shirt a little longer. Not that he really minded wearing clothes that fit. It might have been enough to actually make him embarrassed if he’d been stuck wearing something so comically long on him that he looked like a kid.

When Ed was ready, Ling picked him up and carried him back to the living room the same way Greed had carried him into the bathroom. Junjie and Al were seated around a large pot with dirt in it in the middle of the room, with various plant material scattered around.

“There’s the lovebirds,” Junjie teased, “Feel better?”

“We certainly do,” Ling said as he laid Edward down on the couch with his ports facing the outside, and covered him with a blanket.

“Al was about to go in and rescue you,” Junjie said to Edward, “I kept saying, don’t underestimate my dad’s ability to waste time being sappy. Same goes for you, Ling. I think you’re worse.”

“Oh I’m absolutely worse,” Ling laughed.

Ed was feeling far too relaxed to do more than stick his tongue out at Junjie when Ling came carrying him into the room. Al was rolling his eyes at the pair. He was probably pleased that Ling was out, though. He did like him more than Greed.

“All three of you are disgustingly sweet,” Al said, watching as Ed tucked the blanket around himself like a caterpillar building a cocoon. Once he had sufficiently swaddled himself he slouched over against Ling.

“How do you know we were just being sappy,” Edward asked arching a brow. “We could have been coming up with inventive ways to see how long Ling can hold his breath.” Ling laughed.

Al cringed and jerked back from his brother as if he had been slapped, which seemed to delight his older brother. That nasty little dwarf. “How could you say that? In front of me and the man’s son!?”

“Junjie is like what? A hundred and fifty years old? I'm sure he heard worse,” Ed said, snickering at his brother's red, offended face.

Junjie snorted and laughed. “I’ve said a lot worse,” he said, “But not about my dad. That’s a little too much for me.” He scooted over to the couch and pulled up the blanket just enough to tuck around Edward’s port so he could get to it easily. “I’ve got the basic plan down, I just need to start putting it together. Ling, as cool as you are, I’ll need you to let Dad out in a little while so I can attach it. It’ll take a while, and he’ll need a thrall. I’ll let you know when.” He pulled the plant parts toward him and started to organize them.

Meanwhile, Ling made himself comfortable at the end of the couch with Edward’s head in his lap. “Alphonse,” he said, “We haven’t gotten to talk in a while! Did Edward give you those books about Xingese magic?”

“Hello again, Ling! He did and I really must thank you for it. I’ve wanted to try dabbling with some of the spells I’ve found. Though I'm not sure where to get the ingredients.” Al’s face was lit up with excitement, much like Edward's when he was asking Greed questions about vampires. “I have been trying to think of ways to adapt some to our local flora and fauna. I have noticed certain creatures, items, and plants with similar magical qualities. They may not produce the exact same effect as the original spell but maybe something similar.” He explained.

Meanwhile Edward let himself be talked over, used to being worked on enough that he wasn't to affected by having Junjie at his port. It was a little odd having someone besides Winry poking around but he felt relaxed enough from the bath. And he has pulled a nice, long bit of Ling's hair over his shoulder to play within.

Ling pulled Edward’s hair out from under his head so he could run his hands through it. “You’re a pioneer!” He told Alphonse, “I have some more books you might like, though only one is in your language. The others have pictures though. Hey sweet roll, sit up a bit, I’m gonna go look for them.”

“Sweet roll,” Junjie muttered under his breath, but didn’t look up as Ling went to his bedroom to go digging for books. “Ed, what color would you like it to be? For some reason I have a hard time making plants green, but I can do black, red, purple, yellow… I can also do black that shines red or purple in the light. And are you opposed to spikes? Nothing sharp, but just enough to look kinda badass?”

“Sweet roll?” Edward said, unintentionally mimicking Junjie. He sat up all the same and let Ling leave. Which was just a little disappointing because he liked having him play with his hair. His mind was quickly taken off such disappointment with Junjie's line of questions though. It made Al groan. “I am totally down with badass spikes! And lucky you red and black are my favorite colors!”

“Don’t ask for his opinion Junjie! He has no sense of style. Or he does but it is tacky as hell!” Al complained, for which Edward glared at him. “Everything he owns is either red or black! And we used to live out in the country where it gets hot yet I haven't seen him wear anything but leather pants for years!”

“You're just jealous of how badass I look,” Ed snapped, grabbing a slamming pillow from the corner of the couch to hit All with. The younger Elric grunted snatched the pillow away.

“You look like a twink with a leather fetish! And don't get me started on how you like to try and accessorize everything with skulls,” Al said, throwing the pillow at Ed’s face.

“You are so lucky I am down an arm and leg right now,” Ed snapped, kicking at Al with his remaining foot.

“Or what? You would find a step stool and kick my ass?!”

Junjie snickered at the brothers’ argument. “He wouldn’t need a step stool,” he said, “Your ass is perfect kicking height where it is. And who says leather twinks are a bad thing?!” He wrote ‘skulls’ on his notes. “I’ll make the foot area simple so you can wear your normal shoes over it. One time I worked on a man who had lost both his legs so I gave him some really fucking cool platform boots. He was sad when he had to switch them out to real automail.”

He started to attach some of the plant parts together, and morphed a few of the outside parts so that they turned black.

Ling returned with a couple of books, and handed them to Alphonse before taking his seat back and resuming his playing with Edward’s hair. “The one on top is one you can read, it’s about the more modern magic in Xing. The one I gave you before was about ancient magic, but this one explains how it’s changed. The rest are some spell books and guides to rituals and things, you can look through the pictures if you want. And I’ll be happy to translate something! Until it’s time for Greed to front, anyway.”

“It's clear you two shouldn't be left alone too long,” Al said when Junjie defended his brother's fashion choices. Though there was little heat in the words. Any further argument was interrupted by Ling coming back into the room. Al eagerly took the books and started thumbing through the one that Ling said he would be able to read.”Hopefully I’ll be able to read them myself soon. Ed told me you gave him a book so he could lean Xingese too! He just hasn't shown it to me yet.”

“Relax. We can learn while we're in Resembool. There will be plenty of time and we'll have Ling with us to help,” Ed said as he flipped back into Ling's lap. He let out a wide yawn and squeezed his eyes shut. He wanted to curl up on his side and nap. But Junjie needed his leg and it wasn't near early enough in the morning for him to go to bed without messing up his schedule.

“I’d love to help you two learn,” Ling said. He smiled at Edward’s yawn and bent over to kiss him. “In return for some banjo lessons.”

Junjie finished putting together the plant automail, and started making some tweaks. It was all black with a hard and glossy outer layer that shone red in the light (and maybe a bit purple in the sunlight too; sometimes it did that in Junjie’s experience). It was slim, about the same size as Edward’s flesh leg but a little smaller on the calf that was made up for by a line of subtle downward-facing horns on the backside. The foot itself was simple, something like the inside of a close-fitting shoe, but had a subtle carving of a skull on top. He spent a few minutes delicately giving it a scale-like texture and appearance, just because he was a perfectionist.

When he was done, he held it up. “Hey Ed, what do you think?”

Edward kissed Ling back, grinning up at him while Al poked through the books he had been given. Idly Ed wondered if they would be sleeping here tonight. He kind of hoped so. He didn't feel like walking home and from what he had seen of the bed Elodie was sleeping in he thought he might really want to crawl into it. He had to get himself a leg first, though. Speaking of, at the sound of Junjie's voice he sat up a little, only to spring up like a jack in the box when he saw the leg.

“It looks fucking awesome,” Ed said excitedly, reaching out to touch the horns at the back of the calf. “God I wish Winry would try to make something like this for me.”

“Done let her hear that. Besides, why would she with how often you damage your automail,” Al asked from behind his book, making Ed pout.

Junjie grinned wickedly. “You can keep this one after you get your automail, as long as you take care of it and make sure it gets sunlight and water. But as badass as it looks, you probably don’t want to be kicking any asses with this thing. Save that for the real automail. This has the integrity of like… the hard layer of a watermelon. There’s a wooden bone-like structure on the inside to support weight but it won’t take a beating well.” He started to take the leg apart again. “Alright, Ling, I need Dad to come out.”

Ling smiled and leaned over to kiss Edward again. “I’ll talk to you later,” he whispered.

“I’ll keep that in mind. Don't think I’ll be getting into any fights any time soon, though,” Edward said, making Al snort. But he just stuck his tongue out at his little brother before being distracted by Ling's kiss.

Greed sat up and admired the plant automail. “I never knew you could even do this,” he said.

Junjie smiled at the praise. “It’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Let’s get this baby on there. Thrall him, will you?”

Greed turned back to Edward and guided him back into his lap so he could lay down. “Do you want to take a nap?” he asked, “I can put you to sleep until he’s done.”

“That might be smart,” Junjie said, “It’s going to take me awhile to get the nerve tissue connected. It could take anywhere from half an hour to two hours. Hopefully not that long, but sometimes it doesn’t line up right and I have to redo it.”

Edward grinned at Greed when he was back in control and let him guide him so that he was laying back down. Really, he hadn't wanted to be put to sleep but Junjie's estimate for how long it would take changed his mind. Honestly he wasn't sure he would be able to stay awake while under Greed's thrall for that long anyway.

“Knock me out, babe,” he said, shifting a little to get himself comfortable before he was put down for a nap.

Junjie got up to grab the oil lamp from Greed’s piano and set it on the ground between him and Al and light it, then he turned off the rest of the lights. “You can take the lamp if you want,” He told Al, “I can see pretty well in the dark.” He sat cross-legged in front of Edward’s port.

When the lights were down, Greed smiled down at Edward. After taking a moment to appreciate the lovely feeling Edward gave him, he gave him his thrall. It was gradual, first making him sleepy, then eventually falling asleep. He ran his hands through Edward’s hair and studied his face. He wanted to memorize every shape, every shadow, so that he could keep it in his memory forever. He really was beautiful.

Junjie attached the wooden bone-like structure to the port first, then connected the first nerve tissues, then alternating between muscle tissue and nerve tissue until he finally got to the outer covering. The whole ordeal lasted about an hour, but eventually he sat back and sighed. “It looks good. You can wake him up now.”

Greed slowly released his thrall, bringing Edward back up through the stages of sleep until he was waking up. “Rise and shine,” he murmured as he ran his hands through Edward’s hair.

Rather than take the light, Al had moved to watch over Junjie's shoulder as he worked. It was different than Winry's automail seeming just a little invasive. It was a good thing Greed had put Ed to sleep, really. He doubted that Ed would have been able to stay still long enough for Junjie to finish with his leg.

When Greed released the thrall and tried to wake him up he grumbled, and then rolled onto his side, dragging the blanket over his head and consequently, Greed's hands. Unless it was his idea he was always difficult to wake up.

“No,” he mumbled, nuzzling his face into Greed's stomach and curling up a little tighter. “Don't wanna get up.”

Near his feet, Al rolled his eyes and then stuck his hand in the blanket to pinch Ed’s side. He yelled then, jerking up to glare at his smirking brother. “Morning! Junjie finished with your leg. Why don't you test it out a little?”

After being reminded what he wants there for, Ed shoved off the blanket and got to his feet. He shifted from one foot to the other then took some experimental steps. He actually felt just a little more sturdy than before. Had his old leg been a little short?

“This is nice! I actually think I may have needed new automail anyway, after walking around a little. My other leg may have been a little short,” he said with a grin, at least until he caught Al biting his lip, obviously trying not to laugh. “Don't say a word,” he grumbled.

“Sweet,” Junjie said as Edward walked around. “It looks great. You probably won’t feel as sensitive as you can with real automail, but you should be able to feel moderate pressure. As for how to take care of it, you won’t need to oil it like regular automail, but it will need water. A shower a day is plenty. And like, about half an hour of sunlight per day minimum. My plants don’t need as much sun as most plants do. You’ll be able to feel it when it needs water or sunlight. And when you go to get real automail, if you want to keep this one, I’d put it in a pot of soil about a foot deep and keep it near a window, and make sure to water it. You won’t have to connect it in pieces again like I did, because the area around the port’s been fused together so it will come on and off normally.”

“You’re so talented, Junjie,” Greed said.

Junjie smiled proudly. It felt good to finish a project, and be recognized for it.

“Your dad is right, this is awesome,” Edward said, moving to drop down by Greed so he could pull his new leg into his lap and examine it. “It's so light. This sort of thing would be great for people who need automail but but don't need it to be so durable as metal stuff. Winry says sometimes older people have to stop using their automail because it gets too heavy for them.”

Of course not everyone needed automail as hefty as his own but even lighter automail models could be quite heavy, considering all the metal. He didn't think that this would be a great substitute for children unless it was a little stronger. Kids could be so rambunctious that it would probably break but oh the possibilities.

“It's a plant right? So is it possible for it to like grow with its owner? Winry has been working on trying to make legs and arms that can be extended to certain length before you have to remove it and trade for a longer leg. They're mostly for kids. The are a few in Resembool who end up with missing arms or legs and they grow so fast that you have to either wait till they get older to give them automail or keep buying new arms and legs. And it hurts so much having them connected. Especially for kids,” he said, reaching up to rub his shoulder at the thought. He had been woken up to little kids screaming more than once in the Rockbell's house for that very reason. It always tore Winry up a little.

Junjie put a hand to his chin in thought. “Well, I never worked with children before. I only did temporary stuff for soldiers, and some experiments on spinal automail. The way I grow it, it’s at full maturity and it doesn’t have a reproductive cycle. Theoretically, it will live forever as long as it gets the stuff it needs. I might be able to do some experiments though, with having it grow. I’m not sure how I’d set limits on how it grows and when to stop, but that’d be the question.” He held out a hand to motion toward the automail. “And I can make some more durable things too, using wood. I used wood for the bone here. It’s heavier, though, but not as heavy as metal, and it can still get damaged. Just think of like, a wooden bat or a table or something. It can hold weight and you can hit someone pretty hard with it, but don’t take an axe to it. I guess it’s more durable than human flesh in that way, but healing takes a lot longer and the healing isn’t nearly as good. The leaf and root tissue is what I prefer to use on the outside though, because it takes in sunlight and water a lot easier. If it was all wood I’d have to have just a small part of leaf tissue that needs a lot more care.”

Greed ran his hands over the plant automail in admiration. “I mentioned earlier that you might want to grow some fruit plants or something in Resembool, but do you think you’d consider doing this?”

Junjie pursed his lips. “Maybe,” he said, “It would be cool to figure out how to make stuff specifically to be permanent. I’m sure Asld would be all about it. He’s really into helping kids, and he especially likes helping people walk after he got paralyzed. I’d need some mechanics to help me though, since I don’t work with metal.”

“Well then it's a good thing you’re coming with us. At least for a while anyway. I think you and Winry would hit it off and she's the best mechanic I know,” Edward said with a grin. Given he didn't know that many, but he had seen other mechanic's work and he didn't think it held a candle to Winry's. Especially since he maybe didn't always take as much care of her work as he should. “She's always tinkering and experimenting with new stuff. She’d probably be really interested in spinal automail. Usually all she gets to deal with is missing arms and legs. The most interesting thing she's ever gotten to do was play around with my automail and restore some fingers for a woman in town. And she said that was just fun because of how small and intricate everything was.”

Junjie nodded and stood up to stretch. “I’m excited to meet her! We didn’t get as far with the spinal stuff as I’d hoped. I was looking for a way to restore Asld’s legs but there’s just too many side effects we couldn’t account for. I did get to see a man have half of his spine replaced with automail. I helped with the operation, it was really interesting.”

While Junjie cleaned up the area he had been working in, Greed looked between Al and Ed. “Would you like me to take you guys home?” He asked, “You’re welcome to stay here. I might make a meal, and usually Junjie and I play some games when we have time.”

Junjie snickered. “You sure you want them to see me kick your ass at Tiddledy Winks?”

“You play tiddledy winks?” Edward asked, face expressionless until he gave a small snort and shook his head. “I wouldn't mind sticking around. Don't honestly know if I will participate or fall asleep on the couch though,” he admitted glancing at Al, who shrugged.

“I don't mind staying if you want. Junjie and I were talking earlier. He said it might take some time before Greed is ready to leave the city. We'll have time to pack and call Winry tomorrow,” Al offered, laying off the teasing for now. Besides, there wasn't much to eat at the barracks and a meal sounded nice. He didn't feel near as tired as Ed looked either. He wouldn't mind watching Greed get his ass best at tiddledy winks

“Guess it's decided then. You're stuck with us for the night,” Ed said, grinning up at Greed.

Greed looked at Edward and smiled, then leaned over to kiss him.

Junjie scoffed and walked away to turn on a lamp. “You’re so damn sappy,” he complained.

Greed laughed, then set Edward’s leg aside so he could stand up. “That reminds me, I haven’t properly greeted my boy yet.”

“Oh, fuck,” Junjie began, but he didn’t run away when Greed picked him up in a hug and swung him around in a circle.

“I’m so happy my baby is back!” Greed sang, “I missed you so much!”

Junjie’s wings unfolded a bit with the lack of balance and nearly knocked the lamp over, but he was smiling when Greed put him down. “You’re a moron. But I missed you too.”

Within a few minutes, Greed was making a dumpling stew and Junjie sat down with Alphonse to talk about magic and fairies. Greed couldn’t help but look over every now and then and smile at the sight. He really was so happy that Junjie was there, and that he and Edward and Al got along. He could only hope that meeting the rest of Edward’s family would be as lovely.