Title: The Perils of Dating – part 1/?
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Pairing: eventual Roy/Ed
Series deviation from somewhere post Ep 25. Movie-verse does not exist.
Spoilers: some canon events have been altered slightly to make this ‘verse possible. Otherwise, no specific spoilers.
Disclaimer: I own only these little words here - and about half a dozen rapidly multiplying plot bunnies *sweatdrop*
Dedication: belated birthday fic for zakai_ . Enjoy!
Ed was still up when he heard the key in the lock, which surprised the hell out of him; Roy had been looking forward to this night out all week. A quick glance at the clock surprised him even more, since it was barely 10:30.
"You're early," he called from his usual spot on the sofa, not even bothering to look up from his heavy text on alchemical references in mythology.
He received an irritated grunt as a reply, along with the sound of Mustang’s coat being removed and hung in its usual spot. Roy appeared moments later and flopped gracelessly into the nearest easychair. Clearly, things had not gone well.
"Bad date?" Ed kept his tone light and casual, even turning the page for effect. Nothing shut Mustang down quicker than an argument, and Ed was down right curious now.
"You have no idea," Roy sighed, rubbing his eyes between forefinger and thumb. He slid a weary, sideways look in Ed’s direction. "Recall how long it took me to get reservations at Aphrodite’s?" Ed gave a brief nod. "As it turns out, she's allergic to seafood. Shockingly, however, this is not the sum total of ones errors."
His smile was cynical as he sat forward, and Ed rolled his eyes. If Mustang was going all formal, it really hadn’t gone well.
"Not only was the restaurant unsuitable, but it seems she doesn’t have the slightest interest in musical theatre, nor finds the Botanical Gardens night display at all charming. And sin of sins, to top it all off, apparently my overcoat stinks from Havoc's blasted smokes. To which, it seems, she is also allergic."
Ed's eyebrows rose. "And you didn't know any of this before hand?" Closing the book, he set it aside deliberately and sat back with a small smirk, peering over the edges of the reading glasses that had slipped to the end of his nose, his arms folded somewhat smugly. "You're slipping, Mustang."
Roy snorted in disgust. "A theory which works only when ones information sources are a bit more expansive than ‘Oh, anything’s fine! Really!’” Ed couldn’t help his snicker at Mustang’s embarrassingly accurate ‘airhead’ impression, teasing a reluctant smile from Roy as well.
A little less tense now, Roy sat back, folding his arms to mirror Ed’s and crossing one ankle over his knee. “I don’t think I’d mind so much, if she actually said something. But the woman just sat there and sighed about this, and sighed about that. It was like pulling teeth just to get anything more than that out of her, like what was actually wrong. It's just all so infuriatingly passive aggressive."
"You know what your problem is?" Ed remarked, picking up his book again and shifting his glasses before opening it. "You keep dating the wrong type."
Feeling as though he should be at least mildly insulted, Roy raised one eyebrow querulously. "Pardon?"
Ed just levelled a pointed look at him over the edge of his frames. "When was the last time you went out with someone for any reason other than they made your crotch twitch? Hmm? Like, say, engaging conversation? Intelligence? Wit? Anything sounding remotely familiar here?"
"This, from a man who's never had a date, to my observation?"
Ed glared. "I date."
That defensiveness made Roy react like a dog rising to the scent, a glitter of interest sparkling in his eyes. "You do? Since when?"
Turning back to his book with a sniff, Ed returned loftily, "Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean I don't do it."
He shouldn’t. He really knew he shouldn’t, but this was Ed and he felt powerless to resist a little needling. "Is she pretty?"
"Shut up, Mustang."
“Oh, come now, surely she’s not that bad. Oh, I forgot! That’s not what’s important, is it?” Roy couldn’t quite hold his mischievous grin. “So, which of her sparkling features makes your little alchemist heart go pitter-pat, I wonder?”
“I said, shut up. Make me say it again, and it’ll be with my fist.”
Baiting Edward had never really lost its appeal, sadly, and never more so than when Roy felt need to distract himself, so he ignored Ed’s outburst and put on his best pondering expression.
“No, no, let me guess. She’s … startlingly brilliant – to the point of giving you a headache. Devastatingly eloquent – so much so, not even your legendary mind can keep up. Can charm any man from the trees – so long as they don’t mind the odd razor cut from her wit. And is possessed of all the grace and delicate beauty… hmm, let me see … how about, a bovine…”
“… or perhaps not, knowing you and everything dairy. Perhaps an ape? No, no, not petite enough, she’d make you look like an elf…”
“Mustang! Will you shut it?!”
“Oh! I know!” Roy grinned wickedly. “A librarian!”
Ed's book snapped closed. "That's it. I'm going to bed."
Roy watched him almost-stomp up the stairs with a momentary sense of accomplishment. It didn’t last. He had a vague notion he should feel more ashamed of his behaviour than he did, given he’d bent Edward’s ear so much, venting some of that frustration instead of letting it intrude on his sleep.
His only excuse – well, the only excuse he allowed to himself, anyway - was that he was incredibly surprised to learn Ed wasn’t nearly as socially stunted as Roy had always presumed, and Ed shaped surprises always tended to bring out the worst in him.
Initial amusement over, he was starting to feel guilty for needling Ed like that over such a sensitive subject. He always tended to lose himself in the challenge, and Ed made it easy to forget there were real emotions hidden beneath that prickly Elric exterior.
Now he really thought about it, though, he may have gotten just a touch … nasty.
Ah. Yes. Well. That … that was probably … quite uncalled for, really, regardless how much he might have enjoyed the mental challenge. Ironically, that also implied that Ed could have a point about his dating choice du jour.
Right. In the interests of fairness (and a peaceful existence), he’d apologise in the morning. Well, he’d do something nice for Edward, at least – around here that was as good as an apology.
He glanced at the mantle clock ticking softly in the background. Hmm, time, perhaps, for a quick nightcap before heading upstairs as well. Ed had been right, after all; it was still early for a Friday.
“Do you realise that Al’s contract is up in two months?” Roy remarked the next day over his breakfast newspaper.
Ed had his toast between his teeth as he looked up, startled. “Already?” he mumbled through the bite.
“Mm hmm.” Roy might look smug, but his eyes were smiling. It left him wondering if he was overcompensating for last night.
Ed stared at him. “Fuck,” he said softly, then bit into his toast. “How the hell did that happen?”
Roy chuckled. “That a year managed to slip right by you, or that you and I could reside under the same roof for that long without killing each other?”
“Both,” Ed snorted, and Roy’s chuckle deepened.
Their usual companionable silence of the breakfast table settled in amongst their routine, completely disregarding the presence of the low hum of tension that persisted in hanging around. The soft whistle of the kettle had Roy getting up to make coffee for them both, and Ed blinked with surprise when the oven door thumped softly closed and a warm stack of toasty waffles was slid onto the table along with his mug.
Looking up uncertainly as Roy returned with his own coffee and a small jug of syrup, Ed caught the briefest conciliatory smile. Embarrassment made him duck his head automatically, ears burning and a bashful, almost-smile hidden by that damnable fall of hair he never could do anything decent with. He covered as best he could by enthusiastically piling waffles onto his empty plate.
Ah. Apology accepted, then. Roy’s lips tilted fractionally in a small, private smile.
He watched, as he’d conditioned himself to do, because Edward always gave away more in his body language than he ever would in words. And a small frown beginning to furrow Ed’s brows as the younger man savoured the rare treat in front of him proved Roy right yet again. Roy left him to work through whatever was ruminating in that fertile mind of his, knowing full well that if he kept quiet, Edward would blurt out whatever it was, eventually.
“Uh… I mean … I was wondering…” Ed scowled at his nearly empty plate and chewed his lip. “W-why’d ya do it?”
“Do what?” He knew, of course he knew, but he also knew Edward had to say it for it to become real in his own mind.
“This.” Ed waved his hand ineffectively, struggling to find the words. “Al’s contract, getting me that lab job, staying here … I don’t get why you’d do that.”
Roy put down his coffee and regarded Ed thoughtfully. “Because, between the two of you, you and Al were going to tear yourselves apart trying to be what the other one wanted. And for once,” he added softly, “it was something I could do for you both without wondering what harm I’d caused.”
"But-" Ed interrupted, a furious denial in his eyes.
Holding up a hand to stave off Edward’s protest, Roy shook his head. “No, Edward. I know you don’t want to hear it, but it’s the truth. You’ve seen so much, Ed, and so has Al. But when you both came back to Central, it was painfully clear he needed to experience those things, completely, with all of his senses, not just see and hear. And he could do that now, without all the focus being on fixing what went wrong. You gave him that.”
“I know that!” Ed burst out. “That’s why I shoulda gone with him! We should be doing all that together. Him and me. Not him off ‘consulting’ for Major Armstrong while I sit around doing nothing.”
Roy nodded knowingly. “And I have no doubt that one day you shall,” he assured him. “But Ed, it was just as obvious that you needed a break from all that. You looked like lead, even with the weight of Al’s condition gone."
Folding his hands on the table, Roy leaned in further, his expression earnest. "In all those years, your brother hadn’t physically experience anything, but you, Ed, you’d experienced too much. It was there for anybody with half an ounce of sense to see. And you know as well as I do that Al’s got a lot more than half an ounce.” He smiled wryly. “And I hardly think the hours you put in at the base labs count as ‘nothing’. You got that job entirely on your own merit, Edward. I barely had to mention your name and they were practically begging. Don’t write off what you do there. It’s worth more than you know.”
Lost for a smart comeback, Ed stared broodingly at his fingers tracing patterns on the edge of his plate.
“It didn’t matter which way it had gone, Ed,” Roy said softly. “If you both stayed, or both went, one of you would be chaffing, and that would have made both of you miserable. This way, giving Al a civilian contract to assist the State Alchemists in the field allows him the freedom he needs without binding him to the military - not to mention, laying down a very useful precedent - and assigning him to Alex gives you the peace of mind you need.”
Ed snorted, a reluctant grin quirking at his mouth. Not even he was dumb enough to take on Alex Louis Armstrong in Sparkling Protector Mode. Still, there was one question not answered. Ed shifted uneasily in his chair. “S-so why’d you … um…”
“Offer you my spare room?” Roy asked helpfully. “Simple. I could hardly send your brother out into the field and expect him to do and be his best when I knew full well he’d continually fret worrying over you.”
Edward blinked. “And that’s it?” he shot back incredulously.
Grinning, Roy replied smoothly, “Not at all. You needed the time and space to find your feet. I had the space, and I’m willing to give you all the time you need. And when you’re ready, I’m sure Al will be over the moon to show you all the places he’s seen.” Unthinkingly, Roy picked up his mug and took a sip. It hit the table with a thump and a grimace. Ugh, cold coffee.
“W-what if I’m never ready to get back out there?” Ed asked softly, toying with his own mug.
“Then you’ll do other things together. It’s not the end of the world. You might even do something disgustingly normal like get married and have families, and head down to Dublith every year to terrorise the population with another generation of Elrics. It’s still an adventure.”
Unfortunately for Ed, he’d chosen that moment to risk the remainder of his own coffee, and suddenly found himself choking. “Me? Married?! Kids?!” he spluttered. “You sure you didn’t put something funny in your mug this morning, Mustang?”
Roy shrugged. “You never know. You’re still young, Edward. There’s plenty of time.”
Scraping his chair back, Ed gathered up his empty dishes and gave Roy a very meaningful look. “Oh, I’m pretty sure about this one. Trust me.” Dishes were dumped in the sink, and then Edward headed upstairs, Roy presumed to finish getting ready for work. He could clearly hear Ed muttering, “Kids? Ha! Not in this lifetime.”
“You know, your ‘date’ might have something to say about that!” Roy called out to his departing back with a grin.
“Quit fishing, Mustang!” Ed’s yell echoed from upstairs.
At least this time, Roy could hear a smile in his voice.
Crossposting to various fma comms ^^