What Lies Lurk in Kisses

Greed/Kimberly. PG to NC-17. ~8500 words.
So perfectly human.

[ #01: look over here ]

“Look at what we’ve got here,” Greed says, stroking his chin with finger and thumb.

He strolls into the hallway, stepping nonchalantly over smoking hunks of rubble, to reach the thin, scraggly waif of a man with the tarnished yellow eyes. Prison clothes, nothing more than threadbare rags, hang from his bones. He’s a murderous scarecrow that Greed takes an immediate liking to.

Slit-pupil eyes flick to the soldiers. “Kill them,” he says, the words barely past his lips before the first drop of blood strikes the floor.

The prisoner watches him with wary interest. His stance is defensive bordering on aggressive, every motion sharp and sudden. “What the hell do you want?” he snaps, ignoring the burbling groans of the dying.

Greed grins like a shark. “Everything,” he says with a casual shrug. “What about you?” he counters, walking lazy circles around the man. “What do you want?”

His smile is quick and vicious, his gaze fixed on the wide, lifeless eyes of a soldier. “Freedom.” His fingers twitch like restless claws.

Before the man can touch him, Greed slams him against the wall and easily pins his arms above his head. Thoughtfully, he looks at the dark arrays inked into the man’s skin. “I can give you that,” he says.

The prisoner’s expression is a mixture of doubt and hunger. “In exchange for what?”

Greed signals the others to move out. They hesitate, but like the good toy soldiers they once were, they obey. He feels the man’s muscles tense under his hands, and smiles, pleased with the promise of pain lurking behind those narrow eyes.

He leans close, rough stubble scratching his skin as his lips graze the shell of the man’s ear. “How about a little bit of everything?” he murmurs.

[ #02: news, letter ]

Greed props a hand on the stolen car and whistles.

“Over a hundred years,” he says, pausing to scratch his cheek and count off the months.

He’s never really understood why people had to go and mess with things like a calendar system that works perfectly fine. Humans are humans, though, and they’re not happy unless they’re making things more complicated than they have to be.

Kimberly slumps against the trunk, arms folded. It isn’t an active shunning of the chimeras as they cluster about Greed, it’s a complete lack of interest. Since he woke to find himself staring up at a wide, gleaming grin, he’s been less than personable.

“Huh,” Greed says, watching him out of the corner of his eye. “Off by about half a decade.” He rubs the back of his head and shrugs, as if it meant nothing to him. “Ah, well.”

Dorochet hits him with the first question. Under the broken streetlight, he tells them about how it used to be, asks his own questions about how it is now. He revels in the attention, welcomes it after the years of so much nothing.

“Hey.”

Greed cocks an eyebrow, turns to the sound of Kimberly’s lazy voice.

“Are we going inside, or are we sleeping out here?”

The chimeras fall silent, friendly smiles slipping from their faces. Kimberly’s expression says he couldn’t care less.

Slipping an arm around Martel’s shoulders, Greed brushes a kiss across her cheek, warns her without words to calm down, back off. He nips the soft skin below her ear when the urge strikes, takes his time answering, and doesn’t bother to look at Kimberly when he does.

[ #03: jolt ]

Kimberly slams the drawer shut, not hesitating before hauling the next open and riffling through the contents. There has to be a knife, or a razor, or something around here.

His hair clings to him in wet chunks, curling like black snakes on his skin. Water trickles down his back and soaks the low waistband of borrowed pants. He shivers from the chill, but even that feels good.

He knows the moment Greed arrives before the thing speaks. Greed’s like the bruises of too many heated kisses on his skin, an endlessly looping alchemical reaction that’s a low hum of energy in his skull. It intrigues him, makes him want to take Greed apart piece by piece and see what makes that false body tick.

“Any particular reason you’re tearing my bathroom apart?” Greed asks. He crosses his arms and cocks an eyebrow and would manage to look human except for his slit-pupil eyes. Kimberly wonders if they shine like a cat’s in the night.

Kimberly closes the drawer instead of slamming it this time. “I want to cut my hair. Wouldn’t happen to have something convenient like scissors in this cesspit, would you?”

Greed casually pushes away from the doorframe and walks closer. “Why?”

“Because I’m sick of it hanging in my face,” Kimberly says, an honest answer startled out of him. “What the hell do you care?”

Greed’s reply is a grin, feral and hungry like the name he goes by. The constant white noise in Kimberly’s head suddenly rushes to a peak, bringing his breath faster as two thin lines of light creep up Greed’s arms and leave something coal-black in their wake.

“Son of a bitch.” Kimberly licks his dry lips as the energy settles back and the brightness fades.

He’s never felt anything like it before, even the thrill of changing a living, breathing human into a stumbling death sentence doesn’t feel like that. He wants another taste, wants time to savour it. Only after he looks down at Greed’s hands does he notice the unnatural claws.

Greed takes him by the shoulders and turns him around to face the cracked mirror. Kimberly’s gaze remains fixed on those new hands. They’re warm but hard, and there’s a faint smell like gunpowder lingering in the air. He can feel muscles shifting under black not-skin. He’s fascinated and repulsed, and he can feel the lick of fear in his stomach for the first time in a long time.

The tip of one claw scrapes gently along his throat, stops under his chin to turn his face back to the mirror. All he can see is stark blackness against his pale skin. When he finally looks up at their reflections, he realises Greed’s eyes don’t need the dark in order to glow.

“Show me where to cut,” Greed says.

[ #04: our distance and that person ]

The girl screams.

Greed slumps against the wall, winces because there’s no one around to see. It’s too early to have his eardrums shattered. He stuffs a hand in his pocket and takes another drag.

There’s not much in this for him. She doesn’t know something worth knowing, doesn’t know something she shouldn’t, doesn’t have anything worth having. She hardly exists, really.

Pre-dawn air grows quiet.

He’s reminded too much of Envy. What the city needs, he’d say, is a good murder mystery. Liven things up. Give them something to talk about, a reason to jump at shadows and titter at each other.

Horrified excitement. Envy hates them, but he knows humans better than they know themselves.

He grinds the cigarette under his heel.

Kimberly turns the corner, dragging a bloodstained hand along the brick. A gold locket, speckled with gore, dangles from his fingers.

“They’ll think he did it,” he says. He’s short of breath, blood-spattered, eyes burning shiny bright. “The one they’re chasing.”

“Have fun?” Greed asks.

Kimberly slams him against the wall, smears red down his bare arms. It’s still wet, still warm. Thick heat digs into the hollow of his hip.

He lets Kimberly kiss him, bite his lips and crush their mouths together hard enough that it hurts more than it doesn’t.

There’s not much in it for him, but there’s something.

[ #05: hey, you know ]

“Fetch me a fresh drink, would you?” Greed slings an arm over the back of the couch, expectantly patient. Behind dark glasses, hungry eyes track the thin tail of hair trailing down Kimberly’s spine.

Kimberly barely glances at the upraised glass as he walks by, heads straight for the bar and pours a drink for himself. Wisely, the bartender doesn’t protest, and busies himself with drying cleaned glasses.

“You could get it yourself,” he says. The bottle clunks dully against the scarred wood, and he slouches against the counter.

The low hum of conversation in the room wavers, changes tone. Greed can’t help but smile. He appreciates loyalty, an eagerness to please. Kimberly is neither, and he appreciates that, too.

Greed drums his fingers against the worn leather, a show of annoyance for Kimberly’s benefit. “You’re a real piece of work, Kimberly,” he says, heaving himself up off the couch and away from a pouting blonde’s hands.

His boots are eerily silent on the hard flooring. A slanted grin and a jerk of his head has the chimeras clearing the room. Kimberly’s unfazed, and that fascinates him. Briefly, he wonders if Kimberly’s playing with him, but that doesn’t seem to be the alchemist’s style. Not giving a fuck is more his attitude.

Greed likes that, for all the trouble it causes.

“You make everything more complicated than it needs to be,” Greed says conversationally, stopping right in front of him.

Maybe that’s not so much of a problem, he thinks, sliding his arm around Kimberly, reaching for the bottle. Maybe more of a challenge. Something to keep life interesting. It isn’t surprising when Kimberly doesn’t bother to reply, but the tightly-wound restraint humming just under the surface of his skin is.

More than curiosity, it’s temptation, plain and simple, that makes Greed drape an arm over his shoulder, straddle one of his legs while taking a drink straight from the bottle of scotch.

“You’re mine,” he says, breathing alcohol-scented words into Kimberly’s mouth. “Don’t forget that.”

[ #06: the space between dream and reality ]

Kimberly wakes with the red flare of sunlight in his eyes. So bright it hurts, but he doesn’t turn away. He can hear the sounds of life, smell exhaust and freshly cut grass over the old taint of dust.

He’s afraid to move. He’s had too many dreams of sun and fresh air tatter like cobwebs and leave him curled around his pain in the dark. Eventually, all dreams fade. Still, he clings to this one, clings to it like all the others.

“You sure take your time waking up.”

Kimberly’s eyes snap open, and for one blinding moment, he’s lost in nothing but white. Tears threaten at the corners of his eyes, and he blinks them away as bits of memory surface.

His hands are free, his hair still damp, the sheets are warm and the bed is his own. No cold stone walls, no blackness to swallow him whole. He sits up, flexes his fingers and drags hair from his eyes.

“Picked up some clothes while you were out. There, on the bed.”

Perched on the windowsill, Greed gestures at a bundle tucked close to the footboard. Smoke from the smouldering tip of a cigarette drifts out the half-open window, and peeling paint flutters like snowflakes to the floor.

“How long?” Kimberly asks.

Greed takes a slow draw before answering, lets it curl from his mouth as he speaks. “A little over a day. I told you that you’d kill yourself.”

Kimberly leans back against the scarred headboard, stares up at the water-stained ceiling. Under the thin sheets, he’s naked, and all he can think of is how good the cotton feels pressed like a kiss to his skin.

[ #07: superstar ]

The paper crackles, brittle like ancient bone in his hands, the rain-splotched ink smeared unrecognisable in places. Bitter yellow eyes fix on the faded photograph. Some trick of time has left it untouched by ruin.

Roy Mustang. Hero of the Ishvar Conflict. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel for outstanding service and honour. The date in the corner reads only a few scant years after his own imprisonment.

The difference between a hero and a murderer. The war had broken Roy. Broken him down into nothing but pure, self-loathing need. The need to get away, to stop killing, to forget. He couldn’t even do that. He needed someone else to push him, give him something to hate more than he hated himself.

Roy had used him to survive. Used him just as surely as Kimberly had Roy. Fuck away the day, show him someone with hands bloodier than his own, give him enough physical pain to make his poor, tortured soul stop hurting. It didn’t matter that Kimberly had been happy to do it.

Kimberly’s had seven long years to think about anything, everything, and nothing at all while Roy’s been enjoying the benefits of rank. He doubts Roy’s ever even thought of it. Knowing him, he’d probably tried to forget it, pretended it hadn’t happened.

Kimberly smiles. Knowing him, Roy hadn’t been able to forget even one little kiss.

Dimly, he hears the familiar sound of Greed’s careless footsteps, and seconds later, the low sound of his name. He tosses the paper aside.

[ #08: our own world ]

Law stands in front of Kimberly, shielding him from view and finding the most unobtrusive way to provide the support he needs to stand. Martel watches the bar’s seedy patrons, Dorochet at her back. The traces of humour that began to show during the escape are gone, tucked under flat, merciless expressions.

He knows Law doesn’t care to have the alchemist touching him, and Kimberly’s just as pissed to be forced to do it, but neither object. It’s that kind of thing he appreciates. The willingness to do what needs to be done, do what he tells them to do.

Greed snaps his fingers at the bartender, cocks an eyebrow when a glass slams on the counter in front of him. The man stares, waiting.

“Whiskey,” Greed says, eyes catching the labelled bottle in the bartender’s other hand. Watching the man slosh a few fingers into the bottom of the glass, he asks, “You have any rooms here?”

Immediately, the barkeep shoots back, “Why?”

It makes Greed smile, bare razor-edged teeth in a wide, cheerful grin. Nothing ever really changes.

He’s got a dozen different answers. Devil’s Nest has a nice ring to it. He likes the place, he needs a place, he wants this place for him and his people.

“If you’ve got rooms,” he says, “I’ve got money.”

The bartender looks at him, really looks. He stares blatantly at inhuman eyes peering at him above thin rims as if waiting for something more, but Greed is greed and knows it when it’s looking right back at him.

“If you’ve got money,” the barkeep says after a moment, “I’ve got rooms.”

Sliding off the stool, glass in hand, Greed signals Dorochet over to take care of the details. Martel heads for the narrow staircase to pick their rooms and clear out anyone who might already be there.

Arm around Kimberly’s thin shoulders, Greed dips his head to give his alchemist a whiskey-flavoured kiss. This time, Kimberly lets him do it without a fight.

Law stares down anyone brave enough to watch.

[ #09: dash ]

Sunset in the alleyway. Greed’s teeth scrape his throat, raise burning welts that bring his breath in a hiss. Under his jacket, razor-edges hitch dark cloth, dance butterfly-light over skin. The teasing threat makes his dick ache.

Greed kicks his feet apart, shoves a thigh between his. Clawed thumbs curve over sharp hipbones. Stubbornly, he swallows a rough groan. It makes Greed laugh, mouth pressed to the bony angle of his shoulder.

“If that makes you feel better,” he says, grinds thick heat against Kimberly.

Greed carelessly tears buttons free, flashes a grin at Kimberly’s half-irritated, half-impatient snarl. Ruthless fingers curl tight, jerk him off deliberately lazy.

“You fuck.”

Hands clutching Greed’s face, mockery of a lover’s touch, he lets energy start to burn. A threat and a tease to match black claws.

High, childish laughter echoes on the still air. Under his hands, Greed tenses, slit-pupils dilating and contracting in the instant it takes the sound to fade. Kimberly’s eyes narrow.

Racing steps slow and stop. Two boys, dark skin and a flash of red iris. The bigger one grabs the smaller, starts backing away as wide eyes dart from Greed’s hand down Kimberly’s pants to flat, yellow eyes and gleaming white teeth.

Greed slants a grin, a nightmare made of razor-sharp angles and jagged monster’s teeth.

“Run away, kid.”

Small feet pound broken asphalt. Kimberly smiles, arches into vicious pleasure. It’s the first time he’s seen real fear in Greed’s eyes.

[ #10: ten ]

Greed watches him in the morning.

He sits on the edge of the mattress, elbows on knees, skin prickled by the chill in the air. The naked curve of his spine is as tempting in sunshine filtered through dirty windows as it was in moonlight.

It’s early, too early for even the chimeras to stir. He doesn’t know if they forced Kimberly to follow a schedule in prison, or if he’d been left alone in the stony blackness.

For him, the years had bled seamlessly together. An entire decade could pass him by without even a single event to mark its existence.

One of these days, maybe he’ll ask.

Kimberly stands, scratches the side of his neck where a strand of hair ghosts over skin. He pads to the bathroom without a word, not bothering to close the door to piss.

Greed calls it puttering, what his alchemist does. Showering, combing his hair, tying it back, brushing the lingering taste of come from his mouth. It’s all so human.

Kimberly comes back, his skin clean and damp. There are ten neat pinpricks on the bony angle of his hips, four small marks curved in a line, two a little higher.

He stops Kimberly from picking up neatly-folded clothes, draws him backwards to the edge of the bed. Greed curls fingers around his waist, sets the tips one by one to each wound.

Kimberly hisses, spine curving again, as he pushes claws into flesh. Muscle clenches, hands grab his wrists, threat or encouragement or both. Blood seeps from under his fingers and he licks a droplet of water from warm skin. Kimberly’s breath catches.

So perfectly human.

[ #11: gardenia ]

They all stink like her perfume. It’s enough to make him sick.

Outside, he hadn’t noticed. For a while after they got back, he hadn’t noticed either. After he sent Law down to take the first turn playing prison guard, after he knocked back that glass of whiskey, he noticed.

He slung an arm around Dorochet, went straight for the little spot on his neck that made that perfect growl echo deep in his chest, and that rotting stench crawled down his throat to choke him.

Dorochet stared at him, confused and maybe a little hurt as he staggered back. He doesn’t remember what he said to him, doesn’t remember much except the need to get the fuck away from that smell.

He flings open Kimberly’s door, ignoring the annoyed curse. He savours the hiss of Kimberly’s breath as his teeth roughly scrape skin, the almost-startled grunt as he shoves his alchemist hard against the wall.

Kimberly is warm and alive under his hands. He smells like fresh air and cheap soap, and always that hint of something explosive. It adds a tang to the salt of his skin.

Nothing about Kimberly, his taste or his scent or the way he fights against his own pleasure, reminds Greed of Dante and her twisted, decaying soul. She used to tell him he was useless, worthless, nothing but a soulless doll, a parasite that fed on the lives of others.

Like mother, like son.

[ #12: in a good mood ]

Kimberly glances up at the sound of squeaking hinges.

“You did good today,” Greed says, familiar lanky frame a dark silhouette in the doorway. Ice clinks in the glass held loosely in his hand.

From anyone else, it would have been an empty platitude, as meaningless as the smile that went with it. From Greed, it reeks of sincerity, and Kimberly tries to tell himself it still means nothing.

“I know,” he replies, tucking his arms behind his head. “Are you going to reward me now?”

Greed grins, steps over the threshold and toes the scuffed wooden door closed. “I didn’t think you’d want one.” He sets the glass on the nightstand next to the cracked lamp and with the lopsided drawer, and adds, “You didn’t seem the type.”

The mattress dips under Greed’s weight, the unnatural heat of his body pressing close as he leans over Kimberly, hand braced on the faded wallpaper. All that energy humming just below the surface, hidden in fake skin and muscle and bone that still feels real to the touch.

Greed lets him use it. Lets him cradle all that energy in his hands and twist it, send it ripping through the air and crackling across skin to bring Greed’s breath hissing sharp through clenched teeth.

“Then you don’t know me all that well, do you,” Kimberly says, wetting dry lips.

[ #13: excessive chain ]

Floorboards creak above him, loud in the darkness, and then silence settles again. Even here, the hours just before dawn are quiet; too late for most to still be awake and too early for the rest to rise. It suits him just fine.

He folds his hands under his chin and lets the ice melt in his glass. The barrel where the rough sack had sat is bare now, the thing tucked away in a safe. Out of sight, not out of mind.

Why would the military want him back? Archer’s impromptu offer must have been made without his superior’s knowledge, and based in little else besides self-interest. With Kimberly’s history, even a man in Archer’s position wouldn’t be able to convince the military to reenlist him. They locked him up in the first place, they’d do it again.

The ice clinks, sloshing untouched whiskey. Lieutenant Colonel Frank Archer. A man with a steady hand and ambition, and no small amount of confidence. Inviting a murderer back to the military at gunpoint.

Why would he go back? Idly, he traces a fingertip along the thick black lines on his palm. There’s more reason to avoid the military’s leash than to helpfully tighten the collar around his own neck.

Archer, with his chilled blue eyes, would like to be the one holding that leash. Kimberly smiles, laughs to himself. Greed and Archer are amazingly alike for all their glaring differences. Cocky and delusional, and just as likely to kiss him as kill him.

There’s one question that lingers in his mind. One that’s brought him from the first warm bed he’s felt in years, away from the unsettlingly comfortable weight of Greed’s arm around his waist to stare at the place once occupied by that empty skull.

[ #14: radio-cassette player ]

“Now that’s nifty.”

Greed leans over the gramophone, long fingers curled over his chin. The low croon of a woman in love fills the small room, and he grins when the beat picks up, swings into something that manages to be laid back and lively at the same time.

Martel smiles, happy to have pleased him. “There are more records in the back,” she says.

“Good girl,” Greed replies, giving her a fleeting kiss.

Eagerly, he starts picking through the albums she’s already lugged out. The names printed on glossy black mean nothing to him, but it hardly matters. It’s something new, something fun, and now, it’s something that’s his.

“Hey, Kimberly,” he says, catching sight of his alchemist passing by. “You like,” he glances quickly at the record in his hand, “Annie Spiegel?”

Kimberly braces a shoulder on the doorframe and shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“Hm,” Greed says, hardly bothered by the obvious lack of enthusiasm for his new toy. “Go grab a few bottles of something, bring Dorochet back with you if he’s around.” Absently, he flicks through another pile. “Maybe he’ll know which ones of these are good.”

“You’d think we’d have something better to do,” Kimberly says, frowning.

Regardless, he pushes away from the moulding, returning moments later with two bottles gripped between the fingers of one hand, and glasses with ice in the other.

“There’s nothing more worth doing than living,” Greed slings an arm over Kimberly’s shoulder, angling across his chest. “Nothing.”

[ #15: perfect blue ]

Kimberly leans back against the cool stone wall and stretches. The subtle flex and play of muscles pleases him; it’s been too long since he could enjoy the simple freedom of movement.

He tucks his arms behind his head, face tipped to the blue, blue sky full of scuttling clouds and wheeling birds. His eyes close, the bright sunshine like a warm kiss on his skin. He still doesn’t know how the hell he managed to get out of the Fifth. Everything between setting off that whining idiot and Greed grabbing him is nothing but a blur of smoke, dust and pain.

But it doesn’t matter. Kimberly opens his eyes and watches a decrepit little flower struggle against the breeze to stay rooted in the thin soil. He’s free, that’s all that matters. Free to do as he pleases. Free to do anything at all. He smiles to himself. There’s plenty of time.

Greed’s shadow falls over him seconds before one pointed boot crushes the pitiful flower to the ground. “We’re heading out. Get -”

Kimberly frowns. “Hey,” he says, cutting him off.

Greed’s face goes blank as he follows Kimberly’s gaze. “What?” he asks finally, and, utterly confused, lifts his leg to peer under his shoe. Crouching down, he hooks a finger around the flower’s stem, carelessly uprooting it. He looks at it a moment before holding it out to Kimberly. “This?”

Kimberly takes it from him, twirling a ruined leaf between his fingers. The juice staining his fingers smells bitter.

“What do you want now, Greed?” he asks, and tosses the dying thing aside.

[ #16: invincible; unrivalled ]

Blood and shards of glass fall to the floor as Greed shakes his arm. Skin knits together, shiny smooth like a scar before darkening, blending in and vanishing. His arm is perfect and whole again, muscles rippling as he flexes his fingers.

“What the fuck are you?” Kimberly asks, voice less harsh than his words. Red seeps from the slice on his hand, trickling down his fingers. Drops hit the floor, his blood indistinguishable from Greed’s.

Greed’s lips pull back in that shark-toothed grin. “You’re the alchemist, you tell me.”

He breathes, he bleeds, but Kimberly wonders if Greed feels the pain. Pain is for the living. It’s your first warning to stop, stop whatever’s happening, or you’ll die. It loses all meaning if you know you never will.

Lazily curved claws reach for him, slide along the sharp angle of his jaw. “What looks like a human,” Greed says, mouth following the same path. “Walks like one, talks like one, is everything a human is… but isn’t one?”

The price to have that lack of fear, for pain to be meaningless, to not be the one thing every man, woman and child will eventually be. Kimberly curls his hand into a fist, obscuring the black array on his palm with warm, wet blood.

“A mistake,” he says as breath washes over his lips.

Greed smiles, and kisses him.

[ #17: kHz ]

“You broke his neck.”

Greed looks at the kid’s face, then his own hand. “Nope.” He licks a bright spot of blood from one knuckle. “I can still hear him breathing.”

Curious, Kimberly crouches, hand hovering over parted lips. Warm, soft breaths tickle his palm. This close, if he concentrates, he can barely catch the sound of it.

“You’re a creepy son of a bitch,” he says, not bothering to look up when Greed laughs. He lays his arms across his knees and sizes up the kid.

Fifteen years old and already in the State’s arsenal is impressive, even if he doesn’t look it. Automail, a pale scar running under his jaw stained with fresh blood, skin still soft with youth and baby-fine blond hair. A walking oxymoron.

Edward Elric, Tucker said. Alchemist and child prodigy. Only the military would consider sticking souls in tin cans a useful talent. Still, Greed would be better off with kidnapping this Elric, not the other.

He finally glances up to see Greed staring at the kid, teeth bared and gleaming hungrily in the sunlight. Dark glasses hide greedy eyes.

“You’re thinking about fucking him, aren’t you.”

Greed’s grin widens. “He’d be a screamer.”

He’s not surprised. Greed fucks anything pretty enough, unique enough to catch his eye. Both Elrics are unique, but only this one’s pretty. Kimberly strokes fingertips down the kid’s face, cups his cheek to turn closed eyes to the blue sky, and thinks about setting him off just to see what Greed will do.

“They’re all screamers,” he says, and grins back.

[ #18: say ah ]

He strokes a possessive hand over Kimberly’s naked thigh, holding a cigarette to his lips. Blood seeps from shallow wounds caused by his careless claws, trickling slowly like snake tongues on pale skin.

Greed flicks his gaze up to half-closed eyes, still dazed with pleasure. “You going to take care of that or what?” he asks, and blows a lazy ring of smoke. The cool night breeze from the window tatters it like the end of a dream. “Don’t blame me when you ruin your sheets.”

Kimberly mumbles something that might have been an insult and drapes an arm over his eyes. His breathing slowly evens out as he settles into sleep. Gooseflesh prickles along his skin, but he does little more than shiver.

“Tch,” Greed says, taking another long draw. The end flares red hot, smoke drifting out of his mouth as he considers his alchemist. He leans close, brushing his mouth over the beginnings of a bruise. “Kimberly.”

Minutes tick by. Kimberly doesn’t move. Finally, Greed heaves a sigh and rolls off the bed. Naked, he crosses the room to the bath, flicking the cig out the window as he passes by.

He takes his time and tests the water spilling into the small basin, tossing aside rags until he finds one soft enough to satisfy him. Gently cleaning the blood away from the marks he made on Kimberly’s skin, he doesn’t notice jackal-yellow eyes silently watching him before closing again.

[ #19: red ]

As he draws away, he can see the stain of red on Kimberly’s bruised lips. The taste of blood is metal-sharp on his tongue. Kimberly presses the back of one deadly hand to his mouth, eyes shiny with a mad hunger as unsatisfied as his own.

Exactly what his alchemist wants, Greed doesn’t know for certain. Kimberly reminds him too much of Envy, with that wide mouth always twisted into a smirk. Contained chaos, waiting for the moment his back is turned to erupt and fuck the world to hell.

Greed flexes his fingers, matte-black spreading from the ouroboros on his hand like ink from a bottle. The flicker in Kimberly’s bright eyes reminds him why he keeps the human around, why Kimberly is Kimberly and so much better than that back-stabbing son of a bitch.

Envy never did like his own pain, just everyone else’s.

Kimberly’s heartbeat picks up, strong and insistent under his palm. Greed doesn’t need to hold him down, but he likes the way his hand looks splayed in the centre of Kimberly’s chest.

He scratches the tip of one claw down the side of Kimberly’s neck, not hard enough to break skin, but still raising a red welt that’s livid against pale flesh. Greed kisses his jaw, slow and warm and too gentle compared to the next razor-slice that makes Kimberly’s breath hiss sweet in his ear.

“Tell me why you lied,” Greed whispers.

[ #20: the road home ]

It’s twilight under the trees, just like he remembers. The paths are the same, the rustle of leaves and the calls of unseen birds, as if in this place, time stands still.

Over a century of wasted life, wasted because of them, and it still feels like coming home. He doesn’t recall his childhood, or much of the man he used to be, and he doesn’t care. The memories he has are all of being created, not born, of developing, not growing, of red stone melting in his mouth and the heady rush of stolen lives.

He remembers Envy teaching him how to control his shield and form claws sharp enough to slice first through wood and then stone. He learned to enjoy the kiss of pain at Envy’s hands, and he knew that Envy saw him as a means of entertainment. It hadn’t been so bad.

He’s not the sentimental type, not obsessed with memories of deceptively happier days, but the feeling remains. Dante claims they’re all soulless, mere shadows of their human selves, and maybe she’s right. It’s a ghost of humanity that hovers in the pit of his stomach now, a wish that it’d been different for him.

He knows what he is, knows it’s just his greed that makes him want things to benefit himself. There’s no such thing as a human that isn’t greedy, isn’t envious, isn’t prideful or wrathful or lustful. Homunculi are everything that humans really are, but they just don’t want to believe it.

The sound of footsteps rouses Greed from his thoughts. He pushes away from the tree as Kimberly appears at the edge of the bush-covered path, and the juxtaposition of past and present, of seeing Kimberly in this place, throws him off balance for just a moment.

He doesn’t notice how his fingers linger on the deep scars marring the tree’s bark.

[ #21: violence, extortion ]

Kimberly rolls to the side, his heart pounding in his ears, rising like storm waves crashing against the shore. Eager anticipation he hasn’t felt in years.

“You want me to hurt you,” Greed hisses. “You want me to hurt you so bad you can fucking taste it.”

Brutally hard claws seize his wrists, jerk him around and shove him against the wall. Strands of hair wrenched free by rough fingers stick to his skin, to lips made red and wet from vicious kisses. He can still taste Greed’s tongue in his mouth.

Greed promises to hurt him, bleed him, fuck him. Whispers it in his ear, against the rapid beat of his pulse.

A low moan builds in his throat as he feels teeth slice into flesh, just enough to let red blood flow warm into Greed’s mouth. The claws pinning his arms flex, so close to slitting the delicate skin of his wrist. His breath catches in his throat.

Warm and slick and deliberate, Greed licks the corner of his lips. Cool air strikes the dampness and his skin tingles. Greed’s kisses suddenly taste like blood: sharp, bittersweet. Electric.

Greed promises him everything he’s ever wanted, and takes things he never knew he had.

[ #22: cradle ]

Curious, Greed cracks one eye open. “Did you hear that?”

Martel blinks open her eyes, her fingers still combing through his hair. Lazy as the snake they tried to make her, she stretches and shakes her head. For a brief moment, she listens, then mumbles, “Nope,” and settles back down in the warm crook of his arm.

He grunts, idly trails his fingers over her shoulder and waits a bit longer. It’s muted, distant, but unmistakably there. The low, humming build of energy, its crackle and release.

Kimberly.

“Back in a minute,” he tells her, and strokes soft blond hair from her eyes when she starts to get up, starts to turn from carelessly satisfied to awake, alert, deadly. “Keep the bed warm for me.”

Reluctantly, she stays, arm curled around a pillow instead of him. Greed smiles, lets his hand drift down her side and over the bare curve of her hip. It’s enough to convince her he knows what she’s thinking: she doesn’t approve, but for him, she’ll stay.

If only Kimberly were as agreeable. He hauls on discarded leather pants on his way to the half-closed door.

Greed finds him in what passes for the kitchen, shelves laden with a hodgepodge of chipped dishes and tarnished pots. The glow of the old woodstove throws his profile into dark, wavering shadow. Greed waits until Kimberly looks at him and says, “Late to be blowing up chunks of wood.”

Kimberly laughs, a sharp, derisive snort of sound. “You don’t expect me to sleep when you’re making her fucking howl.”

Lips slanted in a grin, he moves closer, drapes his arms around Kimberly’s bare shoulders. Kimberly stiffens, but doesn’t try to pull away. Not anymore. “Maybe you’d sleep better if I made you howl,” Greed murmurs against warm skin.

[ #23: candy ]

It catches the dim lamplight, diamond sparkles in the centre of his tattooed palm. He can feel the thrum of barely contained energy running up his arm. The colour’s almost like fresh blood, but different, different in the way that Greed’s almost human. It’s more like a stone than the mercury-like prototype he remembers from Ishvar.

“Is it from the lab?” he asks, and wonders what Greed’s done to it to change the consistency.

The air is heavy with the smell of sex, the faint tinge of blood. Greed lounges on the bed, stretched out and naked. His eyes are sharp, the contented laziness of orgasm replaced by the hunger that’s never really satisfied.

“Nicked it right before I nicked you,” Greed says with a grin. His fingers twitch, and he scratches his hip. A useless gesture to hide how much he wants it.

Kimberly still tastes come on his lips. He drops his hand, catches the stone between his fingertips, and watches Greed’s eyes track the reddish glint. Holding it up to Greed, and asks, “Can you use it?”

Greed licks his lips, quick and eager. An addict waiting for that first hit. “Not like you’d think,” he says, a hand sliding up Kimberly’s arm.

Greed grasps Kimberly’s wrist, trails his tongue over long fingers before taking them in his mouth, sucking gently, almost reverently, as the stone melts. A low sound of pleasure echoes in his throat, needy and hungry and the closest to vulnerable Kimberly’s ever seen.

Kimberly’s breaths are short, his heart beating harder against his ribs. Fascinated, he watches slitted pupils dilate, feels pointed teeth graze his fingers, desperate to scrape the last of the stone from them.

Greed lets his fingers slide free with a groan, licks his lips again like a starving man. His eyes glint.

A hard jerk on Kimberly’s wrist has him pressed tight to Greed’s chest. Greed kisses him, tongue sliding into his mouth, and the lingering flavour of the red stone hits him like too many alchemical reactions in too little space.

His eyes roll back, clench shut. He can’t hear anything but the hard pound of his heart, of short, harsh breaths sucked in through his nose. He feels alive, so alive it hurts like dying.

Greed finally releases him. Dimly, he feels a hand stroke through his hair. He swallows, shakes away the blackness clutching at his vision.

The aftertaste of red stone in his mouth is the taste of Greed’s kisses.

[ #24: good night ]

One by one, his people drift off to bed.

Law tucks a piece of string in a tattered novel, something he’d read years ago and enjoyed enough to take the time to find again. The second-hand book store had been tight, cramped, and all the books had seemed too small in his hands.

“Staying up for a while?” Dorochet asks.

Greed drops his empty glass into an outstretched hand, digs his elbow into the cushions to shift the worn stuffing around.

“Yeah,” Greed replies, tossing a casual, two-fingered wave to the Nest’s bartender as he locks up for the night. “The prodigal son isn’t home yet.”

They know who he means, but none recognise the reference. Odd phrases don’t even make them blink anymore. Greed’s old, peculiar, inhuman. They couldn’t care less.

Martel slides her fingers through his hair as she walks by, scratches with her nails just the way he likes. “He’s a pain in the ass,” she says, her voice floating down the dim staircase. “One of these days, he won’t come back.”

Greed props his feet up on a cushion. He’s not worried. Kimberly will come back.

Running his tongue along the sharp points of his teeth, he imagines biting Kimberly’s scowling mouth.

They always do.

[ #25: fence ]

As another explosion rocks the lab, one after the other, they slide glances at Kimberly.

“Don’t look at me,” he rasps, leaning heavily against a pile of wood and brick that used to be the ceiling. He hates how weak he sounds, and his throat aches. The only reason he’s still standing is because he refuses to fall.

He’s not sure why the freak with the pointy teeth wants him, but he couldn’t really care less. All he can hear echoing in his head are the words, we’re getting out. The warm blood on his hands tingles like the excitement tripping along his nerves.

Those things move on, vanish into the gloom, and for a moment, he’s afraid they’ll leave him behind. The thought of clinging to them like some helpless kid pisses him off, and he shoves away from his support, stumbling for the first few steps before sheer stubbornness forces him to walk.

It’s Greed who waits for him, and that pisses him off even more. A strong hand grabs his arm, and Greed pulls him forward as if to fling him over a shoulder. He snarls a curse, tries to jerk away, and Greed lets him.

“You’re going to kill yourself,” Greed points out, but doesn’t sound all that concerned.

“Fuck off,” Kimberly snaps, slapping a hand on the wall to steady himself. “I’m getting the hell out of here on my own two feet.” As soon as he says it, he wonders why he bothered. Greed doesn’t seem the type to care what anyone else wants.

But Greed holds up two hands, palms out, and doesn’t say anything else. He just grins and takes a deliberate step back.

Kimberly attempts to ignore him, ignore him like he ignores the sound of claws skittering on cold stone and the rumbles that shake the wall under his hand. Greed strolls along beside him, saying everything that he wants to say without even uttering a word.

The entire west wall on the ground floor is in shambles. Kimberly doesn’t hesitate before hauling himself over the rubble. Through the choking dust, he can smell the fresh night air, can see the stars glittering in the sky.

Rocks and dirt shift under him, and he almost falls the last few feet to freedom, but he makes it. His feet touch the ground seconds before he collapses to his hands and knees, but he doesn’t care anymore. He’s out, and every breath is sweet as candy kisses in his mouth.

He can hear the others swarming around him, feel their steps pounding the ground as they scramble to breech the outer wall and silence any guard foolish enough to wander close enough.

Greed saunters along, hands in his pockets and shades pushed up into his hair. “Nice night,” he says, gazing at the sky before easily scooping Kimberly up. “You said you wanted out by yourself, and you got out. So, no bitching.”

Kimberly’s vision wavers, and he thinks about blowing Greed’s cocky grin right off his face. He passes out before he can manage to lift one hand.

[ #26: if only I could make you mine ]

Kimberly’s harsh breaths fill the overheated space between their mouths. The air is heavy, tainted with the smell of sex and the sweet, metallic tang of blood.

“You always make things so difficult,” Greed murmurs, and licks bruised lips, leaving them glistening wet in the lamplight. He admires the marks his teeth have left on vulnerable human skin, ones that’ll linger for days, that Kimberly’ll see every time he looks in the shattered mirror. “One little moan, Kimberly.”

Kimberly’s fingers flex uselessly, wrists pinned to the hardwood by light-sucking black claws. A sharp thrust makes his breath catch and stumble, makes his eyes narrow to tiny, dark slits.

“That’s it,” Greed hisses, grinding into tight, clenching heat. Pressing hard to unshielded skin, Kimberly’s cock is thick, slicked wet with saliva. Greed can feel his pounding heartbeat, the twitch of abused muscles. His lips to Kimberly’s staggering pulse, he says, “That’s all I want.”

Kimberly’s back arches, throat working to swallow what Greed wants to hear, gather breath enough to speak. “Liar,” he says, so close to a groan.

“Sometimes,” Greed whispers into his mouth.

[ #27: overflow ]

He jerks the wires from the crooked lamp. A few tugs, and they peel away from the moulding, up the wall to a simple round switch.

“Here,” he says, holding up the ends. “I need your claws.”

Greed gives him a bemused look, the kind you give someone who’s gone stark raving mad and it’s cute. Still, he lifts his left hand, lets the change creep down his arm.

Kimberly smirks at him, grips his thumb like a knife and scrapes the insulation away. He takes his time, careful not to damage the wires as he splits them. “You can’t die, right?” he asks, letting Greed’s hand fall to the sheets and moving to examine the switch.

The switch cover is loose. It’s easy to unwind the wires, bypass the pitiful failsafe and make them live. He already knows the answer, probably knows a better answer than Greed does, but that isn’t the point.

“Nope,” Greed replies, and tucks an arm behind his head. Turning curiously to watch, he adds, “You think that little thing will kill me?”

“You just said it couldn’t.”

Kimberly’s smile is slow, anticipatory as he straddles Greed’s naked thighs. He wets dry lips, still tender and bruised from rough kisses. He holds a wire in each hand. His heart trips over itself.

It’s the kind of thing no sane man would do. It’s dangerous, it’s stupid, it’s like fucking a monster that calls itself Greed.

“There’s one thing you can’t do,” he warns.

Greed cocks an eyebrow.

“Don’t touch me.”

It’s worth it.

[ #28: wada calcium cd3 ]

Wide hands settle on his waist, drift down to curve around narrow hips. He tenses, skin crawling as that weird energy skitters down his body.

“You’re really fucking skinny,” Greed says, sliding his fingertips forward to touch.

“Believe it or not,” Kimberly replies flatly, “I noticed.”

It prickles his vanity to look in the old mirror and see his ribs showing, to stretch and instead of the ripple of lean muscle, see the sharp edges of bone too real in the harsh light of naked bulbs.

They didn’t even have the guts to kill him. Just tossed him into a black pit and left him to rot.

“Are you eating?”

Kimberly jerks away, wrenching on the half-rusted knob to shut the water off. “What the hell kind of question is that?”

Greed shrugs. Unfazed, as always. “Martel said you complained.”

“Of course I complained about the slop she slapped in front of me,” Kimberly snaps. “She can’t cook for shit.”

Everything about Greed puts him on edge. He grabs the rough bar of soap sitting on the chipped sink and sticks a foot in the tub. It’s almost hot enough to scald, and it’s all he can do not to moan as he sinks into the water. Even Greed’s freakish eyes boring through him can’t ruin this.

A wet cloth slaps against his shoulder. He glances back, eyes narrowing as Greed crouches beside the claw-footed bath and holds out a hand for the soap. The cloth slides down his back, warm and gentle, leaving skin tingling in its wake as if from a kiss.

“You stink,” Greed informs him. “And next time, you cook.”

[ #29: the sound of waves ]

Kimberly slumps against the wooden planks, an arm slung over the gunnel and fingers trailing through the white-tipped wake. Spray drips from his dark tail of hair.

“More like you,” he says.

Greed flicks a glance at him over the rims of his shades before looking back to the clear sky. “Yeah, suppose so. Me and Envy, we go way back.”

Back a few lifetimes and still not far enough. Smug words echo in his ears, the same words he’d heard staring up at the empty sockets of his skull: it’s too late.

“And the,” a pause, “woman?”

“Sloth,” Greed replies. Another nail in his coffin. He tucks his arms behind his head, and listens to the steady creak and slosh of Law’s rowing. “Poetic, isn’t it.”

Kimberly arches one eyebrow, his silence speaking for itself.

“Sloth, Pride, Lust, Gluttony,” Greed says, tapping a boot against the hull on every word. “Envy and Greed. The kid makes seven. They’ll call him Wrath.” As he speaks, he reaches out, twines Kimberly’s wet hair around his fingers.

Seven sins of a dead religion he never believed in. Envy’s probably the only one beside himself and Dante that remembers what the old names mean. Betrayers of God, damned to hell. Greed presses the strands of damp hair to his lips. He never did understand why he’d been made to pay for Dante’s choices.

Kimberly rubs at his jaw with a thumb. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

It’s a long time before Greed answers, and when he does, it’s with a smile. “No, it wouldn’t mean anything to you.”

[ #30: kiss ]

Greed stares at the sack gripped tightly in the stranger’s hand, the worn material dust-covered and stark against the blue of his uniform.

Ice floods his veins. His shield drops, the kid and the woman and everything else forgotten in the face of history repeating itself. It’s the same all over again.

Kimberly stands amongst the rubble, lips curved in a vicious, hungry smile that he’s seen too many times. He’s had Kimberly naked and writhing under him, smiling that smile.

“You… betrayed me,” he says, unable to stop the words from spilling out.

Kimberly’s grin sharpens, yellow eyes glinting.

He doesn’t hear the crumbling of another wall, doesn’t hear Law’s deep voice calling him. Kimberly and Envy. The same smile. Wide mouths and lips so soft against his own, whispering promises to give him anything he wants and smiling while ripping it away again.

Someone touches his shoulder, pulls him unresisting into the underground. Before the darkness swallows him, he sees Kimberly turn his back.

The man’s pale fingers curl possessively over his alchemist’s shoulder.

End

One Response to “What Lies Lurk in Kisses”

  1. madcroc Says:

    Wow. I’ve recently found your site and read all the fma section through for, hell, 3 or more times, but this is one of the best
    (that’s my otp, actually, not mentioning the whole awesomness of style). *nosebleed*
    Hey, I just hope that Brotherhood might inspire you again. I really do.) *pulled together and went on to write useless comments to other fics with heart-shaped eyes and shaky hands*

    From Russia with love. *__*

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