Afraid they aren't paired off in this one.
Title: School Daze.
Genre: Dunno. Gen-ish?
Characters: Ed & Alfons
Word Count: 1966
Warning/Notes/Disclaimer: Characters are not mine and I am not making any money off this. However, they do belong to Hiromu Arakawa/Square ENIX, MBS, ANX, BONES, FUNimation Productions, Ltd.
Alfons Heiderich was confused. Which was a state he often found himself in around Edward Elric.
Granted, not while they were working on their schoolwork. In fact, he was ahead of Edward at first and ended up needing to explain various things he considered blindingly obvious. Ed caught on to things with a speed that was almost frightening though, so it didn't take him long to catch up. And when he did, Alfons found the challenge of keeping up with the formerly behind student fun and simulating.
The things he did find confusing were completely unrelated.
Such as, was he really as oblivious of the kind of effect his looks had on people as he seemed to be? Alfons was slightly boggled by the amount of girls and even adult women (some of whom he was pretty sure were married) who practically threw themselves at Edward with Ed... not even noticing. Or, if he did notice, becoming confused and embarrassed. Which led to stammering and cuteness. And Alfons could personally assure anyone who asked that it wasn't just women Edward affected that way. Not that he was about to go screaming it from the rooftops since it was the quickest way he could think of to get a beating. At the least.
Which led to the next thing about Edward that confused Alfons. Was he, or was he not? While he didn't show any interest whatsoever in the female half of the human population aside as fellow people, he didn't show any preference for men either. For all Alfons knew, Edward didn't even know what hormones were for.
And then there were those verdammt mixed signals he kept getting that were driving him mad.
For example, he couldn't help noticing that while Edward had no problem putting his hand on his shoulder and leaning forward to see what Alfons was working on and sometimes make suggestions--with his ponytail sometimes brushing Alfons' ear and making him very glad there was a table blocking all view of his lap--, he tended to flinch when Alfons did the same. Minus the long hair attack.
Or the way that while sometimes he'd have no problem stripping down while getting ready for bed while Alfons was present, he'd suddenly become... shy, for no apparent reason. And so on.
It was getting to the point where Alfons was starting to feel driven to drink. Or doing something very stupid.
* * *
"...'fons? You okay?"
Alfons snapped out of his reverie, blinking. "Huh?"
"You were sort of just... staring at me. Are you okay?" Ed looked at Alfons with concern. Alfons was acting... weird lately, and he wondered if he was coming down with something.
Alfons shook his head to clear out the last of the mist. "I'm fine. My thoughts were just a million miles away, that's all." Then, feeling greatly daring, he reached out and put his hand on Ed's, thumb rubbing Ed's fingers.
Ed's brain momentarily shut down. 'He just-- His hand-- What?' He shook Alfons' hand off his, eyeing him with faint alarm.
Alfons' insides went cold at the look of alarm in Ed's eyes and his retreat. 'I should have known better,' he berated himself as he shrank in on himself.
"I, I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone now. I won't bother you again," he babbled, feeling a sob fighting to rise in his throat, as he got up from the table and started to turn away.
Ed cursed himself for an idiot. He still had no idea what was going on, but something was obviously badly wrong if Alfons was reacting like this. He stretched across the table, practically laying on it, in an effort to grab Alfons' wrist. "Wait. Wait wait wait. Stop."
Alfons hesitated and turned back. "Ja?" he asked warily, fear and disappointment warring with hope.
Ed saw the fear in Alfons' eyes and became even more confused and worried. "Want to fill me in on what's going on? Because I have no idea. Was it something I did?" he asked, getting off the table and settling back into his seat.
Alfons just stared at him before twitching and sitting back down as well. He licked his lips, trying to decide where and how to start.
"Do you have any idea how much of a tease you are?" his mouth blurted out, without consulting his brain. Alfons looked mortified when what he just said registered with him.
"I--what?" Ed couldn't have looked more shocked than if he had just been told that he had to clean the whole building. With his tongue.
Alfons figured that since his mouth had already damned him, he may as well continue. "The way that while you're perfectly willing to touch me, whenever I touch you back, you react negatively. Even if you just touched me in the exact same fashion! Or the way that one moment, you have no problem being partly or totally undressed while I'm there, the next, you're all shy, like, like some girl and don't want me to look at you!" He flung his arms up in the air in frustration.
"Also, you're really, really good looking, which doesn't help either!" He paused to catch his breath, then added in a more conversational tone "Gott knows your body gives me plenty of material for some of my better dreams." And back to the voice level going back up. "Do you really not notice the way your looks affect people?! I'm surprised no one's dragged you off for, for..." Here, words finally failed him and he collapsed against the back of his chair to weather the storm he was sure was coming.
Ed just stared at Alfons throughout his rant, eyes growing wider and wider, making slight choking noises in places. "I, uh, um. Never paid attention?" he said weakly.
Alfons just stared at him for a moment before dragging a hand down his face. "You're hopeless," he muttered.
"Hey! I've always had better things to do than check out other people," Ed said back, heatedly. "Stuff like--" 'Getting my brother's body back. Like you'll believe me. You'll either laugh at me or think I'm insane if I actually tried to explain that though.' "Just... stuff," he finished lamely. "Also, I don't like being touched. I can't help it. It was originally just a me thing. Now it's ingrained that most people who touch me intend to beat me up." He snorted. "Although it usually ends up being the other way around."
A fragment of Alfons' rant finally filtered through. "And the reason I would act like 'some girl', as you put it, is because every time you saw that I saw you were looking at me, you'd look away, which made me think you were looking at my scars or something and thought they were ugly! And they are ugly! Or is it the prothetics? Do they really bother you that much?!" At this point, Ed was starting to feel a bit hysterical himself.
Alfons sternly told himself that smacking Edward with one of his textbooks was not an option, tempting as it may be. For one thing, it would damage the book. "Did you miss the part where I said you were good looking?" he asked in a strained voice. "While yes, one or two makes me wince to look at them, that's because I know something horrible must have happened to you to cause them. Anyone who'd reject you based on them isn't worth bothering with."
That cut Ed's impending hysterics short. "...They don't bother you? But I'm not really anything special to look at. I'm just... me."
Alfons stared at him. "You really are clueless, aren't you? If you were so inclined, you could probably have any girl or woman in the town. Of course, then you'd probably have a lot of angry fathers and husbands after your hide, but that's besides the point. Or, if you're not interested in women, there are various guys who would be perfectly willing to sleep with you. And no, I don't mean in a platonic way." Ed flushed bright red and looked like he wanted to melt into the floor.
"I really haven't thought about this stuff," Ed said softly. "Never had the time or interest. So you..? Um."
"Just... how does that work?" Ed asked pathetically. He flushed. "I don't mean the mechanics; I am capable of figuring that out--just, how did you figure out..?" he trailed off, looking at Alfons helplessly.
'Oh Gott. I seem to have kicked off a 'What am I?!' type thing for him. Wunderbar,' Alfons thought. He rubbed his face. "I didn't just wake up one morning and go 'I want to be something that most people consider to be disgusting and vile', if that's what you mean," he muttered.
Ed looked confused. "Why would people judge you for--? It's not like it's something you can help. Nor would it be most people's business, so far as I'm concerned." Something clicked into place when he remembered the way Alfons was furtive about his glances, the fear in his eyes earlier, and what he just said. "You were afraid of me. Of what I might think of you," he breathed. Alfons winced.
"That... would be correct," he admitted.
"Did you really think so little of me that you thought I would treat you like that?" Ed asked, looking hurt.
"It's not a matter of me thinking you're small-minded, so much as simple self-preservation," Alfons said wearily. "Neither of us actually know each other all that well, and considering that people have been disowned or killed by their own families for being what I am..." He shrugged, looking pained. "In fact, I know that if my grandfather knew, he'd tell me that I'm going to burn in Hell and then throw me out to fend for myself. Can you blame me for being paranoid?" Ed looked appalled.
Alfons continued. "I sometimes have to wonder about you. It's like you're from another world. You didn't--and still don't--understand things that are basic knowledge, be it education-wise, or... things learned outside the curriculum," he finished delicately.
He shook his head to clear it. "And to answer you about how I figured it out... Well, I just was never all that terribly interested in girls. When I did do my looking, it was at other boys. Although that was usually all I dared do. Just look." He gave Ed a wry look. "You may not think much of them, but your looks turned out to be entirely too tempting for my own good." Ed shook his head in disbelief.
"I... think I'm going to need to have some time to absorb all this," Ed confessed, rubbing his forehead as if he had an impending headache. "Figure things out. Just... Stop acting like a kid who's been caught stealing cookies off the baking rack whenever I see you looking at me?" he asked. "As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm just a bit self-conscious about being all scarred up and you made me kind of jumpy about that," he added wryly. Alfons nodded contritely.
"If you don't mind my asking, how did you get all those?" Alfons asked curiously.
"Fighting, mostly," Ed answered simply. "Maybe I'll tell you about some of the fights sometime. There were a number of times I almost got killed." 'Far too many times,' he added silently to himself.
Alfons propped an elbow on the table, chin in hand, looking thoughtful before looking at Ed. "So now that you know why I look at you... you don't mind?" He wanted to get that clear for himself.
"Now that I know the reason, why should I mind?" Ed smirked. "After all, it's nice to have an adoring publ--hey, cut that out!" he complained as he started getting peppered with whatever odds and ends came within Alfons' reach.