Once Flesh

Envy/Al. PG-13. ~450 words.
He was tired of being hounded by things he didn’t understand.

Caress the detail, the divine detail.
-Vladimir Nabokov

The old door creaked on its crooked hinges, grazing the carpet as it swung inward. He didn’t have to look to know it’d come back, and didn’t bother to speak when he felt the odd not-sensation of his helmet being lifted, stared at with cruel slit-pupil eyes.

He forced himself to think of Envy as an it, think of all of them as just things, nothing more than concentrated energy. He had to.

“I remember what you looked like,” Envy said, moving closer. Its fingers drummed on cold metal. “You had plain eyes. Like mud.” A harsh snort, and it added, “Didn’t look much like him. Maybe your mother ran off with the neighbour’s son for a romp or two.”

Al ignored it, silently wondering how long it would take for Envy to get bored and leave again. As much as he hated being alone, he hated Envy circling him like a spiteful vulture more. It made him think of Martel, and that hurt him in a way Envy’s words never could.

Envy crouched in front of him, carefully stroked a fingertip over the blood seal. Phantom muscles tensed, made his armour body rattle. “You chased him around on stubby little legs,” it said. “And you gave me a hug, that day you skinned your knee, when they left you behind. You don’t know how many hugs you’ve given me.”

Al made a sound like a hiss. Some habits are hard to break, and he clung to the few things his false body let him do that reminded him he was once flesh, too.

Reattaching his helmet, it said in a gentler voice, “You’re waiting for him, aren’t you.”

“He’s coming,” he said. Found it was the only thing he could say.

“I certainly hope so.” Envy smiled, a brilliant flash of teeth that weren’t quite human. “I didn’t drag your big tin can carcass here for shits and giggles, you know.” Its smile grew sly, head tilted just a little to the side. “You think I want the Stone?” It reached for the plume, twining it around deceptively delicate fingers before continuing, “I don’t need that thing.”

Al jerked away, expecting it to yank his head off again just for trying. “Then what do you want?” He couldn’t hide the desperation in his echoing voice; he was tired of being hounded by things he didn’t understand. “Why do you keep coming after us? Why hurt so many people?”

Envy pressed its smiling lips to his facemask. Al flinched, the imagined touch made worse by the memory of a kinder smile kissing away the pain of small hurts.

“You’d be taller than him now,” it said. “If you still existed.”


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