Series: Brotherhood/the manga
Word Count: 5,019
Characters: Greed!Ling/Lan Fan.
Summary: Make your move then, kid. I dare you. Greed has little patience when it comes to cowardice.
Warnings: language, sexy times, spoilers for the end of the manga/Brotherhood.
Notes: Kind of a companion piece to Set Your Own Standards. I did want to kind of expand on the scene between Greed and Lan Fan, and that’s all I intended to do, but it became a bit of a monster. *LOL* I hope you guys enjoy!
She’s pacing outside of the door—it is Ling that feels her presence, and it is Greed that recognizes the sound of her footsteps. Each step is careful and calculated—the footfalls of an assassin and a protector. Greed has no need of her services, and given that he is now inhabiting Ling’s body (thus making Ling immortal), neither does the young would-be-Emperor.
Greed rolls over in the bed, heaving a soft sigh of annoyance. His irritation is directed at Ling, however, not at the girl.
Why do you get like this when that chick is anywhere near you?
Ling’s reply is a hesitant, Like what?
Don’t play stupid, prince. A low, agitated growl emerges from Greed’s throat. The kid is indeed playing dumb, and Greed doesn’t like this one little bit. Ling’s always blathering about how Greed has no choice but to be straight with him, and now here the kid is, dancing around Greed’s questions.
It’s complicated, the prince answers, and there’s a hint of irritation lining the edges of his response, like Greed is the last individual he wants to be discussing this with. Greed can feel the irritation, but he feels the echoes of an old longing even more strongly, coming off of the prince in waves, palpable and very real.
You want her. It’s not meant to be a question, and Greed doesn’t try to make it sound like one. The jig is up, so to speak—has been up for quite a while, but he’s simply been waiting for the right moment to bring it up. Maybe this isn’t the right moment; maybe there is no such thing as ‘the right moment’, but it’s out there now and there’s no way he’s going to bother with trying to take it back. There’s no way he’s going to let this brat try to get around it, either.
For a long while, he receives no answer, but finally: Yes. She knows that I do, but she also knows that it cannot be. There is an ache now, too, not quite as old as the longing—it’s a fresher wound, not scarred over, but not exactly oozing blood either. Ah. Greed gets it (he is capable of being perceptive); the kid realized too late that a romance with her wouldn’t work out.
Oh, to be young and in love, and to deal with all the bullshit that’s tacked onto it.
Not that Greed would know how that feels, and he is glad that he doesn’t. Avaricious he may be, but he only wants good things and good experiences. Heartache is not one of those ‘good things’.
You love her. Maybe Greed’s tone is slightly mocking; maybe that’s why he feels Ling’s irritation increase tenfold. Either way, he doesn’t really care. Why the hell can’t you go for what you want? I saw greed in you when I first inhabited this body. I saw your desires, and saw that you were willing to go after them. What’s the difference when it comes to her?
It’s complicated, Ling reiterates, as if repeating it will quiet Greed’s curiosity.
Well, I only have all of eternity to listen, given that we’re immortal and all, you know, Greed points out, rolling over in bed again and punching his pillow, trying to make it more comfortable. Damn hotel beds and their damn second-rate pillows. Go after what you want—that’s my motto. Take what you want. Maybe you don’t think it’s that simple, but I know better, kid. I’ve been around a long time.
You don’t know a damn thing, Ling retorts, and there’s not just irritation now, but anger. Good. Our people would never accept a relationship between the two of us! I am royalty and she isn’t! I will become Emperor and she will… she will marry a good man. I will make certain of that.
Your people, Greed snorts. Isn’t she also one of your people? he challenges. Do you know how she feels?
I know how she feels! More anger. If I could take away her pain over this, I would! If I could change how things must be, I would!
Greed breathes in deeply. Smell that, kid? Smells like the winds of change to me. Without further banter or any explanation whatsoever, Greed practically vaults off of the bed and crosses the room, opening the door separating Lan Fan and himself.
“Young master,” she begins, but he cuts her off.
“Sorry,” he apologizes. “It’s Greed.”
“Oh, I see. My apologies.” She bows her head slightly as if in respect, and takes a step back. She masks her disappointment very well, but Greed can still hear it in her voice all the same. She is not wearing the get-up that he normally sees her in, but he’s certain that the flash of steel at her side would let any intruder (hypothetically speaking) know that she means business. Always so serious, this one.
“What’re you doing out here?” he asks her, just as his ‘royal highness’ demands to know what the hell is going on. Greed ignores him, focusing instead on Lan Fan’s answer, which is: “I am performing my duty. I am protecting the young lord.”
“I don’t think that’s necessary, sweetheart,” Greed tells her, and notes the way her eyes widen slightly. He hardens his skin to prove his point, his Ultimate Shield coming out at his will. She’s seen him in this form before, so it’s nothing new. It is obvious that it (surprisingly) does not frighten her. He noticed that the first time, too—that she had not been afraid.
“I do not understand,” Lan Fan replies. “I know of your shield already, and what it can do.”
“I don’t need protecting,” he elaborates. “And given that your master and I are sharing this body, my little quirks are his. This shield protects him as well. The stone within this body makes us practically immortal.”
She understands. He knows that she understood before explaining it to her. It obviously changes nothing. “The young lord has not told me to depart,” she informs him tersely. “My grandfather is asleep; I will wake him when my shift is through. My duty is to protect the young master. It always has been, and it will continue to be, whether you are here or not.”
She’s a gutsy one, Greed muses. Gotta give both of you credit there, kid,
Ling does not reply; he is obviously still quite angry, and Greed knows that he’s only about to make the kid angrier, which will in turn force Ling into action. Greed doesn’t know which way Ling will move, but two steps forward or two steps back – either way – has got to be better than this fucking limbo.
Greed notes the strange robe-looking thing that she’s wearing—it has billowy sleeves. He notes, too, that the left sleeve covers her left arm entirely, while the right sleeve is rolled up a bit, showing that the fingers of her right hand are tightly gripping the hilt of a small sword. “Do you always cover your entire left arm and left hand like that?”
The sudden change of subject clearly catches her off guard, and she only looks at him for a moment, shifting and moving her left arm behind her a bit, as if self-conscious. “It is a sign of my weakness. I lost this arm trying to protect him. I failed, and he wound up having to protect me instead. I can function well with the automail, but it’s a reminder of how weak I was on that day.”
Ling’s reply to that is, It isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. She fears nothing.
She fears something, Greed argues, grinning to himself. “Your prince considers it a reminder of your honor and courage and strength, or something like that.” When her cheeks gain a pink tinge in the moonlight, he grins for real and continues: “You do not fear death.”
She shakes her head.
Greed takes a step forward, but she does not take a step back. He feels Ling’s anger blossom afresh. “What do you fear?” Greed queries, even though he already knows her answer. He knows that the prince knows her answer as well.
He watches the way the muscles in her throat move as she swallows. She doesn’t answer, but she doesn’t back down as he moves even closer, closing the distance between them. His lips are at the shell of her ear and his hands are at her waist as he whispers, “He wants you.”
What the fuck are you doing? Ling’s voice is loud in Greed’s mind.
Such language coming from someone within the royal family, Greed taunts. I think it’s fairly obvious, kid.
Lan Fan tenses, and then relaxes when Greed’s mouth moves to her jaw. She leans into him a little, but Greed knows better than to believe that it’s him she’s reacting to; this is Ling’s body after all—Greed’s just offering a helping hand of sorts.
Ling just doesn’t know it yet.
“The young master knows that he may have me,” she replies, and something in her voice almost breaks; it makes Greed pause. She is not looking at him.
There is a certain sorrow in her words, and Greed knows that it hits Ling with the force of a ton of bricks—he himself feels it like a distant aftershock, and with a low, hushed growl, he pulls her tightly against himself, paying little attention to the sound of metal clattering against the floor. When had the game plan changed without his permission?
She doesn’t cling to him, but she doesn’t push him away, either. She smells like a flower that he caught the scent of once long ago and he remembers it: cherry blossom. He thinks the prince is a stupid, stubborn idiot as his own covetousness coils within him, ready to spring. He’s not called ‘Greed’ for nothing.
Stop it! Ling’s command rings loud and clear, and Greed actually contemplates ignoring it.
He obeys, however, after a lengthy hesitation. Make your move then, kid. I dare you; make it, or I will.
Abruptly, it is Ling who is in control of his own body once more, but it is Greed’s words that reverberate through his skull. “Lan Fan,” he whispers, and he lets himself embrace her for a moment, because ‘a moment’ is all they’ve ever really had.
“Young master?” she asks, and she sounds a little relieved. Her arms slowly move to slide around him. “I never know which one of you I’m going to wind up talking to. He’s… nosy, isn’t he?”
And too perceptive for his own good, Ling thinks, but doesn’t say aloud. Surely, Greed is watching this like it is some form of entertainment. “He is. I’m sorry, Lan Fan.”
“It’s all right,” she quickly replies, leaning into him even more now.
He allows himself a second more to hold her, and presses a chaste kiss to the corner of her lips before drawing back, reminding himself that he cannot have all that he wants. It’s a harsh reality that the other inhabitant of his body is more than likely not going to be willing to accept. The two of them are very similar in some ways and very different in others. Ling, though only a teenager, knows and accepts that one cannot have everything and that sacrifices must be made. Greed, though over a century older, does not accept this fact of life. He knows nothing of sacrifice—he only knows of wanting and having.
“Get some sleep, Lan Fan,” he gently murmurs. “And tell Fu that he may sleep as long as he likes; Greed is correct… I will be fine.”
He turns away from her so that he cannot see the pain and the sadness and the disappointment in her eyes as she says, “Yes, young lord.” All of these emotions are evident in her voice, however, and he has to fight the urge to pull her into his arms again.
She departs quietly and quickly, knocking on the door of the room that her grandfather was (hopefully) sleeping soundly within. Once Fu allows Lan Fan entry, Ling re-enters the room that he himself is currently occupying, knowing that it is going to be a long night.
Within the darker corners of Ling’s mind, Greed comes to the realization that no, two steps back really isn’t better than limbo after all. He doesn’t know why he cares—maybe it’s because she seemed so wounded. Maybe it’s because Ling is making himself out to be a coward and a hypocrite.
Whatever the reason, something within Greed bends to the point of nearly snapping. What the fuck was that? he snarls, refusing to let Ling ignore him. You rattle on to me about being true to yourself and about how I disgust you with how low I can supposedly sink—well what about you?! Pot meets fucking kettle, if you ask me.
Ling flops down onto the bed. He didn’t ask, but he doesn’t bother trying to argue with Greed, either.
Mostly because he knows the homunculus is right.
Ling tiptoes down the narrow hallway, not certain if it’s Greed’s influence or the ever-present ache in his chest that is making his legs move. If he were to take the time to actually think about it, he’d probably come to the conclusion that it’s a mixture of both.
What’re you doing? Greed asks him, and his tone is still sour. Ling can’t say that he blames him, exactly.
He’s also uncertain of his answer—what is he doing? He’s probably making a huge mistake, for one thing. He should just turn around and go back to his own room, but he’s already standing in front of the door to Lan Fan’s room, and his heart won’t let him turn back now.
I’m moving, is his response to Greed. Maybe that’ll keep him quiet for a little while.
He knocks softly on the door, and Lan Fan answers on the second knock. She is alert, sword at the ready, but when she realizes that it is him, she takes a step back and lowers her weapon. “Forgive me, young master. I did not know that you would be paying me a visit at this hour.”
“It wasn’t planned, exactly,” Ling admits. “… I am assuming that Fu isn’t on patrol somewhere?”
She sets her sword aside, her expression puzzled, as if she can’t understand why Ling would be asking about her grandfather right now. “I delivered your message, young master. He was not pleased, but he eventually fell back into slumber. I imagine that he will rise early, though. Whether you are still in need of our protection or not, Grandfather isn’t one to simply deny his duty.” And quietly, she adds, “Nor am I.”
“I know.” Ling’s voice is equally soft. “May I come in for a moment?”
She steps further back without question, letting him enter the room. It is Ling who shuts the door behind himself, who whispers, “I’m sorry,” while looking at the floor.
She sways on her feet for an instant, like she wants to go to him, but she remains rooted to the spot. “There is nothing to be sorry for, young master.” She masks her pain well, but, like Greed, Ling can sense it all the same.
“For earlier,” he elaborates. “Lan Fan, I wish that I could…” But he trails off, not finishing, because this is an old song, familiar and heartbreaking. Both of them know the words; both of them know how it will end—neither of them needs a reminder tonight.
“I know,” Lan Fan replies, understanding. There are tears in her eyes and she tries to turn away so that he cannot see them, but he doesn’t allow it. He cups her face with calloused hands (hands of one who is skilled in combat) and he kisses her cheeks, where the tears spill over. Her lips tremble, and he kisses them too, before he can allow himself to think better of it.
Things are a bit of a blur from that point on—he’s not certain of the exact moment when she ceases to be motionless under his hands and his mouth, and instead becomes responsive and vibrant and frantic, her hands clutching desperately at him while her lips move fervently against his own.
This is not the first time that they have kissed, though it has been some time since he’s allowed himself to give in to the desire to kiss her. He knows they are simultaneously treading thin ice and playing with fire right now; he knows that being here with her like this right now probably isn’t the wisest idea, whether it feels right or not.
He tells himself that they should stop before they get carried away. He tells himself that this isn’t supposed to happen between them, not now and not ever, no matter how much he wants it, wants her (always has and always will).
Lan Fan’s lips part and her tongue curls surely and trustingly around his own, drawing him in, and the battle is over before it has even truly begun. Distantly, Ling wonders if it is possible to win and to lose at the same time.
He gives little thought to it, dismissing it easily as he chooses instead to enjoy this brief interlude for as long as it can and will last (before dawn—he has to be back in his own room before the sun rises). His lips detach from hers, trailing down her chin and the column of her throat, and he delights in the way her head tips back and the way she clutches at him, making soft encouraging noises that help stoke the fire that’s been simmering for ages.
He suckles at her smooth skin, careful not to leave marks. It appears that she is having difficulty in deciding where her hands should be—they keep moving from his face to his hair to his chest to his waist, and he notes that even though she touches him with both hands, she favors her right hand and seems almost hesitant at times to touch him with her left hand.
“Didn’t he tell you?” Ling asks, referring to Greed. “I do not see your automail as a weakness, Lan Fan. It is a strength. Do not be ashamed of it, and do not hesitate to touch me with that hand. There is no part of you that isn’t beautiful to me.”
She blushes and ducks her head but she nods all the same, and perhaps his words have instilled some newfound confidence within her, because in the next moment, both of her hands are hurriedly working on getting his shirt off.
“Why does he wear such tight clothing?” she asks, and Ling knows that she is talking about Greed. “So tight… how do either of you have room to breathe?”
Ling shrugs a little and offers her a smile once she’s managed to remove Greed’s shirt. “You get used to it, I suppose.”
Again, she hesitates to touch him. For a moment, she seems to think better of this unofficial decision that they’ve made without discussing anything, and Ling feels anxiety creeping along his spine.
“Young master,” she whispers, “I do not deserve--”
He cuts her off, crushing his lips against hers and placing both of her hands squarely on his chest. “No titles tonight, Lan Fan. You are a woman and I am the man who loves you.” He’s never confessed his love for her aloud before, though it has been an unspoken truth between them for some time.
Tears glisten in her eyes again but she blinks them back, and the next thing Ling knows, her hands and her mouth are roaming over his upper body, and her ministrations elicit soft moans from Ling’s throat.
Her flesh hand brushes against his clothed erection (he does not think it is a purposeful gesture) and he groans, hips arching forward, seeking more. Her second touch, he knows, is quite the opposite of accidental, and before long, Greed’s likewise too-tight pants join the too-tight shirt on the floor (he’s going to have to talk Greed into investing in a different wardrobe, really).
Her hands move inexpertly over his length, experimentally stroking and squeezing, and it feels undeniably good. He shows her exactly where to touch and how much pressure to apply—shows her how to press her thumb against that spot just below the head, shows her how to curl her fingers around him and just stroke. She’s a very quick learner, he has to admit, and in minutes, he is little more than putty in her hands; his legs feel weak and there’s a sort of nervous energy swirling around in his tummy.
Abruptly, he urges her to move her hands away, and her look of utter triumph gives way to a look of mixed confusion and near-hurt, and he rushes to explain himself before she can misunderstand his intentions even further: “It’s my turn.”
Undressing her is much less complicated: it’s as easy as untying a couple of knots here and there, and then watching the fabric as it practically slides away from her body (admittedly, he helps it just a little).
He cups the soft swell of her breasts, thumbs brushing lightly over her nipples, and she makes a sound that is somewhere between a whimper and a hiss, arching into him. He decides to try something a little different and he dips his head, kissing and sucking and gently nipping at her breasts while one of his hands wanders southward, creeping along one of her thighs. She bucks her hips and he thinks it’s an involuntary reaction, but it makes him shudder against her anyway, and makes him that much more impatient.
His fingers circle around her heat and for a second, he is uncertain of what he should do, but then she is guiding him just as he guided her, and he rubs her clit in slow, teasing circles before carefully sliding a finger inside of her. By the time he’s added a second finger, she is practically mewling into his ear, her hips moving with his fingers as they steadily thrust in and out.
She says his name then—just his name, and she doesn’t add ‘master’ or ‘lord’ to it. His fingers still within her, and when she whispers ‘please’, all the air leaves his lungs and his heart skips a beat. He couldn’t deny her if he wanted to.
They maneuver themselves to her bed, all but tumbling onto it, desperate mouths and wandering hands and soft whispers of love and devotion and of things that can never be (but they can pretend, can’t they? Just for now…).
He notes that he fits easily between her spread legs, thinks of how easily they fit together, and then he pauses again, poised at her entrance. He does not wish to hurt her but he knows that he will; it is inevitable, and she knows it too. All the same, he asks, “Are you sure?”
She nods, wrapping her arms around him and holding on, and it’s all the answer that he needs.
He forces himself to go slowly, which is quite difficult once he’s gotten a taste of her tight, wet warmth. He presses into her inch by careful inch until he’s inside of her as far as he can possibly go, and then he stops for a moment or two, letting the both of them adjust to the newness of this. To him, this is incredible, but he knows that she is feeling at least some discomfort.
She holds herself perfectly still beneath him, tense as a bowstring, and he kisses her leisurely, willing her to relax. Once she does, he begins moving again, still slow and careful, worrying all the while that he’s causing her all pain and no pleasure.
That particular worry dissipates when he thrusts inside of her again and is rewarded with a moan and the press of nails into his back. “You’re okay?” he asks her, and her only response is: “More.”
He is all too happy to fulfill her request. Slow and gentle eventually gives way to frantic and somewhat rough, but she’s moving beneath him, meeting his thrusts, and so he doesn’t slow down—he doesn’t know if he could slow down right now, to be honest. It’s too much, too good, and she’s clenching around him and he thinks she might be close, but—
Remembering how she responded to him earlier, he balances the weight of his upper body on one arm while he slides his other arm between them, fingers finding her clitoris and just rubbing, and that is what pushes her over the edge. His name is on her lips again, over and over, soft and adoring, and he holds her while she spasms, while she shudders under and around him. She is beautiful like this, just like this, and he wants to keep the memory of it – of her, underneath him, vulnerable and amazing and completely undone – forever.
It doesn’t take him long after this; she’s still clenching around him when he arches over her with a groan, body trembling almost violently as he comes.
Eventually, they negotiate repositioning, and they wind up cuddled close together on the bed, the blanket haphazardly covering the both of them. His pulse is still pounding loudly in his ears and his breathing hasn’t evened out yet, but then again, neither has hers.
She nuzzles against his neck, and her sigh sounds very much like that of a happy one. He impulsively pulls her even closer.
Ling should have known that Greed wouldn’t stay quiet for too terribly long.
It won’t stay this way, he informs the homunculus. It can’t. Everything will fall back into place in the morning. We’ll fall back into the roles that we must occupy.
So what was this? Greed demands to know. One of those stupid, reckless, one-time deals? Far be it from me to judge those sorts of things, kid, but seems to me that you’re making a mistake, in that case. Did you think you would get it out of your system and you’d be fine?
It’s not like that, Ling insists, though he doesn’t expect Greed to understand. You still don’t understand the situation at all. You tell me to go for it when you don’t even know what that means. You know nothing of how our society works; princes – emperors – can’t marry servant girls. This isn’t some fairytale, Greed.
Could’ve fooled me, Greed spits out, immediately all fire and venom. You’re fucking immortal, kid. Sounds like a fairytale to me.
Ling doesn’t answer, and Greed goes quiet. He’s probably pissed, and possibly with good reason.
He kisses the top of Lan Fan’s head and waits for sunrise.
(He waits for this illusion of perfect bliss to shatter into a thousand pieces.)
Things are now just as they once were between the prince and the girl—the lines have been drawn in the sand, and though they continue to venture dangerously close, they do not dare cross them again. Greed supposes it was a one-time deal, their little tryst, and even though the entire situation still kind of pisses him off, he and Ling have sort of come to an understanding about the whole thing. A… tentative compromise, so to speak. There are more important things to consider, after all; there are bigger fish to fry.
What is the ache of forbidden love worth, when compared to the possible death of thousands?
They’ve already lost Fu – that brave, foolish old man – and the loss of him has been like a crippling blow. The girl has shed tears for him, and the prince has, too. Greed knows that he shouldn’t care, but some part of him does.
Even amidst all of this, there is that familiar painful longing between them, and Greed knows he shouldn’t care about that, either. He wonders why he does.
But he has little to no time to worry or contemplate about such things; Wrath has met his end, but Father has not. Father cannot be killed if Greed remains alive; the solution is simple enough—not that Greed is exactly happy about it.
So, amidst all of the fighting and the screaming and the bloodshed, Greed says his goodbyes – in his own way – to Ling: Don’t continue to be a chickenshit when it comes to her, okay? Go after what you want. And if you don’t become Emperor, I’ll come back from the dead and kick your ass.
Ling is stunned. What do you mean? You aren’t’ going anywhere.
Greed’s mind is made up and there’s no talking him down now. I have to go. You understand. He’s never been one for heroics, but damnit, better late that never, huh?
Ling is unwilling to let him go, but Greed tricks him into doing so—no sense in dragging Ling down with him. The kid has a life to live, and Greed has stuck around long enough.
He dies at Father’s hand, but he goes with a smile.
You’ve got to be willing to make sacrifices. It’s something that Ling has tried to beat into his brain over and over again.
… Maybe, in the end, he’s learned a thing or two from that brat.
Several months later, a certain Emperor – who has made a vow to stop being a chickenshit – asks a certain servant girl to marry him. She says yes.
They move forward, together (which is what they’ve always done, but it’s quite different now).
Go after what you want. Ling can still hear that voice and those words clearly, even though Greed is no longer here with him. Maybe he’s managed to somehow learn something from that crazy, greedy-ass homunculus.
…Maybe fairytale endings stand a fighting chance, after all.