batsutousai: (FMA-automailEd)
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Title: Sparks
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Author: Batsutousai
Rating: Teen
Pairings: Edward Elric/Roy Mustang; background ships: Lan Fan/Ling Yao, May Chang/Alphonse Elric, Winry Rockbell/Russell Tringham, & Vato Falman/Sheska
Warnings: Alternate Universe, soulmates, pre-slash, Ed's potty mouth, background pairings
Summary: Ed's been telling his friends he's dating someone, but when Ling challenges him to bring the person to meet everyone, he has to scramble to find someone to play the part.

Disclaim Her: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Arakawa Hiromu and various publishers. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

A/N: For RoyEd Week on tumblr. Today's prompts included "Just run with it" and Soulmates. I didn't originally intend to turn this into a soulmate fic, but it slipped in there.
This is 100% an AU of both series – alchemy exists, yes, and Ed's automail, but Al was never armour, and Ling and May aren't in Amestris for a Philosopher's Stone – and I sort of aged Ed and his age-group peers up a bit, though I didn't give any specific ages, other than Ed being old enough to be done with university.

You can also read this at Archive of Our Own, Fanfiction.Net, or tumblr.

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"You do not have a significant other," Ling said, his smirk wide and absolutely asking to be punched. (If only Ed hadn't promised Al he wouldn't hit Ling any more, after he broke his nose that one time.)

Lan Fan sighed and very firmly shoved a meat bun into Ling's mouth before he could close it all the way, or continue taunting Ed. "Please just ignore him, Edward," she said, shaking her head. "There is no shame in being single."

"Second thoughts?" Ed suggested, though Ling and Lan Fan had been friends for long enough, she really should have known better than to agree to date the idiot, soulmates or not.

She shrugged and shook her head, both of them ignoring the huffing noises Ling was making at the mere suggestion that he and Lan Fan weren't meant for each other. (Or, well, that's what Ed assumed he'd be ranting about, if his mouth weren't full.) "I am merely saying there is no shame."

"Yeah, well, I'm not ashamed. Because I'm not single!" Ed snapped, crossing his arms over his chest. Because of course he was lying about having found someone, soulmate or otherwise, but he was sick of Ling's jokes about how he was too busy with his studies to actually get a girlfriend or what the fuck ever. And, too, all of his friends were dating – most of them dating their soulmates, even, while Ed could never know who his was – and it fucking sucked being the odd one out.

Lan Fan just sighed again.

"So?" Ling said as he swallowed his meat bun finally. "Bring her to date night." And then he flashed Ed that smile that turned whatever he'd just said, no matter how innocent, into a challenge.

Ed narrowed his eyes and pointed a finger at him. "I will," he promised.

All he had to do was find a girlfriend.

-0-

The problem, of course, was that all of the women he knew were either already in a relationship, or way too old for him.

"You could just come clean," Sheska pointed out while they were putting books away together. (Their boss had, a long time ago, ordered them to always shelve together, in hopes that they would keep each other from getting lost in reading a book instead of doing their job. Which had actually worked pretty well, so far, as they always got their work done before they let themselves get distracted by interesting titles.)

"Yeah, right," Ed muttered, doing his best to keep from taking out his anger on the books; knocking over an entire bookcase once, and then having to clean up the mess, was all it had taken to teach him not to shove the books away as hard as he could. "Ling and Russell would never let me live it down."

Sheska sighed and readjusted her glasses. "Dating service?"

Ed shot her his best flat look, because the only time he'd actually tried a dating service had ended in an epic failure. Which she knew.

Sheska offered him a helpless and slightly apologetic smile. "I can ask Vato if he knows anyone?"

Ed snorted, because he was still impressed that Vato and Sheska had ever managed to get past the shy, uncertain looks that had been equal parts irritating and amusing as all fuck. Also, Vato was at least twice Ed's age and worked in the military; the chance that he knew someone that would serve was slimmer than none. Still, a military woman would be a good reason why he'd never brought her out to meet any of his friends. "Yeah, sure. I'm not holding my breath, though."

Sheska patted his shoulder. "It'll work out," she promised.

Ed just rolled his eyes and went back to shelving; Sheska was far too positive for her own good.

-0-

Date night came, and Ed was still minus one girlfriend. Sheska had promised that afternoon that Vato'd found someone willing to at least play the part for the night, so Ed had left a little early and made it to the pub where they always held the get-togethers well before any of his friends were due to show up.

Sheska had warned him that she didn't really know anything about the person Vato'd found, other than that she was Sheska's age – a little older than Ed, but far younger than Vato – and understood that this was really just intended to be a one-off. Which was really more than Ed had expected when Sheska had first suggested using Vato's connections, and it wasn't like he really had any other options, so...

"Ed Elric?" a smooth baritone said from behind him, and Ed frowned a bit as he turned to look, because that didn't sound like a woman. And, indeed, it wasn't. Rather, he found himself faced with a man with dark hair and eyes, who looked to be about Sheska's age and was holding a single red rose. "Warrant Officer Falman said you needed a date for the night? I'm Roy Mustang," he offered, giving his name like he thought it was supposed to mean something.

Ed sort of stared at the man in disbelief for a moment, before blurting out, "But you're a guy!"

The guy – Roy – cocked one eyebrow at him, his smile looking maybe a little strained as he withdrew his hand. "I am. Is that going to be a problem?"

Ed wanted to say yes, but he really didn't have any other options. And, well, it was hard not to remember the massive crush he'd had on Ling throughout most of university, as much as he tried to forget about it; more because Ling was a dick, than anything to do with his gender.

And, well, this guy wasn't...bad to look at, or anything. He actually looked pretty good; the sort of good Ed would have chanced a second look at, if he thought he could get away with it, even. And was actually pretty close to Ed's height, which was rare.

It was just one night, then he could give Vato hell for this and never see Roy again.

"No, it's– Whatever. Fine. My friends might be a bit weirded out, just to warn you. They all think I'm dating a woman."

Roy shrugged. "I've faced worse," he said, his tone not quite flat, but not really as cheerful as Ed bet he'd been aiming for, and he tried not to think about how much shit it had to be to be in the military and not be straight. (Or, well, Ed assumed Roy was in the military, given how he'd referred to Vato.)

"Ah." Roy held out the rose toward Ed and put on the most stunning smile Ed'd ever had aimed at him. "For you." And then he winked.

Ed felt his face heating up. "What the fuck?!" he snapped, was grateful his voice hadn't cracked or anything, like it'd sometimes done when he'd got flustered because of Ling.

Roy's smile, if anything, turned even more stunning, and reached out to take Ed's right hand – not reacting to the automail he had to be able to feel, even through the glove – slipping the rose into it. "There."

Something in the back of Ed's head started cursing his luck, because of course his fake date would end up being both fucking charming and actually kinda nice to look at. Shit. Just so long as he wasn't, oh, clever or an alchemist or something equally attractive to the less hormone-driven part of Ed's brain on top of all that.

Ed swallowed and very firmly shook himself. "Thank you?" he managed to get out.

Roy let his hand go and reached up to brush Ed's bangs out of his face, and he couldn't help but flinch at the unexpected contact. Like they were actually dating or some shit.

But wasn't that the whole point of this? "Just run with it," Ed muttered to himself, before looking up and meeting the dark eyes that were watching him with some concern. "Don't give me that sort of bullshit look. I'm not some fucking wilting flower or whatever."

"Even the hardiest of plants need to be watered," Roy returned.

Ed couldn't even begin to guess what that fucking meant, so he scoffed, then said, "Whatever. You're in the military, right? So what's your rank, 'cause Ling's gonna ask, 'cause he's a massive dick."

Roy's smile turned slightly crooked and he lowered his hand to his side, giving Ed his personal space back. "Colonel Roy Mustang," he returned with the sort of stiff tone that Ed associated with military sorts, but was kind of surprised to realise he hadn't expected of Roy. Hadn't expected him to be a high rank, either, holy shit. He just didn't look military, which was probably just the normal-people clothing, or whatever.

And then Roy relaxed slightly and winked before adding, "My favourite colour is red, my favourite food is a ground beef sandwich, and I'm an alchemist."

Ed straightened, attention caught, even as he mentally started cursing his luck. "What, seriously? What's your speciality?" Maybe he was a really crappy alchemist? Or a dabbler or something; Ed had met a lot of that sort in university, and they often had the same sort of self-assured charm that Roy seemed to have.

Roy let out a chuckle, warm and low. "You're not going to return the favour?"

The favour? Oh. "Red, beef stew, and I'm a Central Branch librarian, which you probably already know from Vato. And I'm an alchemist; common metals and earth." And human transmutation, but no way he was sharing that with anyone, let alone a member of the military. He gave Roy an expectant look.

"I'm the Flame Alchemist," Roy offered quietly, almost sounding sad.

Fuck.

Ed hadn't recognised his real name, but only idiots wouldn't recognise his code name. "How's it work?" he heard himself asking, because he'd never found any resources on fire alchemy, and he was always looking to learn more about obscure branches of alchemy, even if he should know better. "Everything I've ever heard says you make fire out of thin air, but that's impossible, breaks the first law. The fire has to come from somewhere."

Roy blinked at him, then cocked his head to one side. "You can't honestly expect me to share my secrets with you."

Ed rolled his eyes, because he'd always prefer figuring things out on his own or decoding personal alchemy notes, to getting the answers handed to him, which had a fair bit to do with personal experience with having too many answers literally shoved into his brain. Anyway, he knew the unspoken rule about not sharing your research with strangers. "Please. I'm just asking where you get the starting flame from. Not even asking for a demonstration or to see your array, which I guarantee I'd get way more from." He narrowed his eyes at the man. "Not saying I'd refuse either. Can't fucking find anything on fire manipulation alchemy."

Roy snorted, amusement glinting in his dark eyes. "Quite certain of your abilities, aren't you?" he teased.

"Yup," Ed returned, didn't bother trying to explain he was an alchemical genius, mostly because his 'genius' had almost killed Al when they'd been younger, and being a child genius meant very little once you finished school, anyway.

And then, from a bit behind Ed, Al called, "Brother! You're early!"

Ed pulled on a smile and turned to face his brother, who was accompanied by both Russell Tringham and May Chang. "Hey, Al, May," he called back, very obviously ignoring Russell.

Russell snorted and May coughed a laugh into her hand, but Al's expression twisted with disappointment. "Ed."

"Oh, let him have his fun, Al," Russell said, flashing Ed a mean little smirk. "I'm sure your girlfriend will be here any minute, right? The rose is a nice touch, but we all know no one will be coming to accept it."

...Ed had forgotten about the rose. "Shut the fuck up, Russell!" he snarled, even as his cheeks heated as he remembered Roy giving him the damn thing.

And then there was a warm hand on his left shoulder – and probably on his right shoulder, too, though the automail wasn't sensitive enough to tell him – and Al's eyes went wide as Roy, his voice warm and low, with just the faintest hint of a threat, said, "Perhaps that's because the intended recipient has already accepted it."

Ed felt a smirk blooming across his face at the way Russell blinked in disbelief. "This is Roy, my boyfriend," he offered, and it didn't feel as awkward to say that as he'd been expecting, though that was almost certainly because the sense of victory at being able to pull one over on fucking Russell shoved anything else out of the way.

Russell just sort of gaped at him, while Al sighed and shook his head – he knew Ed wasn't dating anyone, because Ed couldn't actually hide anything from his brother – and May covered a smile.

"Ed," Roy prompted, his voice warm and way too fucking real; fuck, the man was a scarily good actor.

"Right. Roy, that's my little brother, Al, and his girlfriend, May. And Russell's dating my best friend, Winry, though I've no fucking clue what she sees in him."

"Fuck you, Edward," Russell shot back.

"It's a pleasure to meet you," Al offered, reaching out with one hand and wearing a sort of helpless smile.

"Likewise," Roy replied, reaching past Ed to shake Al's hand, not moving an inch away from Ed's back, and he tried not to notice how warm it felt to have the man standing so close.

The others showed up right about then, preceded by Ling's call of, "I thought it was a girlfriend, Ed!"

Ed shot him a scowl and pointed with his right hand, only to catch sight of the rose too late to withdraw it without looking stupid. "I never specified gender, idiot," he pointed out, because he actually hadn't. Which had never been a conscious decision on his part, but he knew part of the reason he'd never gendered his mysterious date, especially to Ling, was because of that stupid crush he'd had.

Ling sort of stopped, looking surprised, and Ed wasn't the only one to enjoy the opportunity to laugh at him.

When Roy squeezed his shoulder, Ed coughed to help get his amusement under control – this was going way better than he'd actually expected when he first realised Vato had set him up with a guy – then offered, "The blonde's Winry, the sensible one's Lan Fan, and her idiot boyfriend is Ling. Guys, this is Roy."

A round of pleasantries went around, then they headed inside to get their usual table and order some food and a round of drinks. And the fact that his friends were being weirdly well-behaved was actually freaking Ed out a bit. Al, he knew, would wait to give him hell until no one else was around, but he'd expected some unnecessary commentary from Winry, Russell, or Ling. Or all of them, probably feeding off each other.

It wasn't until they were all seated with their food and drinks, that Ed noticed Ling watching him a little too closely, and he realised what was going on: They were looking for proof that Ed was actually dating Roy. (Or, well, Winry and Ling were; Russell'd probably just been told to keep his mouth shut until Winry had figured them out.)

Ed was distracted from trying to figure out how to make it look like he and Roy were dating, by Winry asking, "So, Roy, what is it you do, hm? And how'd you and Ed meet?"

"I'm a member of the military, general administration," Roy replied with a polite little smile. "I met Ed at one point while I was collecting some documents from the library." And then he reached over and caught a lock of Ed's hair, his eyes dark and warm and way too fucking real, holy shit. "He has the most arresting eyes."

Ed felt himself blushing again and ducked his head. "Shut the fuck up," he muttered.

Fingers brushed along his cheek, and Ed peeked out to find Roy had leant closer. "I could never," he said quietly.

Ed was pretty sure he hated the man.

Roy turned the question about employment and how they'd all met back on the rest of the group, and Ed took the brief respite to gather himself, then chanced glances toward Ling and Winry, judging how they took that little display. Ling, so far as Ed could tell, actually looked like he'd bought it, if the slightly defeated slump to his shoulders was any indication. (That, or Lan Fan had got on him about something while Ed hadn't been looking.) Winry, though, was giving Roy that considering look that had always preceded her taking something apart, and Ed felt a weird surge of protectiveness for the man.

Well, not so weird, Ed supposed. The guy seemed pretty okay, all things considered, and Ed had kinda dragged him into this mess with only a brief warning; it was kinda his duty to make sure Roy made it out relatively unscathed, despite how weird his friends were.

As the night wore on, Ed learnt a fair bit more about his date for the evening, like that he'd been raised by his aunt after his parents died when he was a kid, which was a weird sort of echo of how Ed and Al'd been raised by Granny after Mum had died. Roy'd been raised in Central, though, and transferred to East City after he'd joined the military, which was a bit opposite from Ed and Al and Winry all being raised in the east, then moving to Central for university and staying there.

Roy apparently had two close friends, one of whom worked in the same office as him, while the other worked in Investigations. And Ed felt kind of sad about that, that Roy only had two friends he was willing to claim as such, but Ed had this entire group – except for Russell, though his little brother, Fletcher, wasn't too bad – and Sheska and a couple of the other librarians.

Was that how it normally was for people in the military? That you just didn't have friends? And what about the rest of Roy's office? And Vato, since they were apparently close enough that the man had asked him to play Ed's date for the night.

Ed couldn't ask, though, because he was supposed to know all this, and that actually sucked a bit.

And then Russell asked, "So, you an alchemist?"

"I dabble, a bit," Roy replied, sounding so honest, Ed would have believed him if he hadn't already been told otherwise. "I'm not very good, I'm afraid."

...Roy wasn't owning up to being the Flame Alchemist? Was it because he didn't want to answer Ed's earlier questions? Or was he just afraid he'd get buried under all the questions? (Not an unreasonable fear; Al would hold back a bit, and May probably would, too, but Russell wanted to be a State Alchemist, and he'd do his damnedest to drag out every fact about the exam as he could, on top of trying to figure out how fire alchemy worked, and probably how he could protect his precious plants from it.)

Although, when Ed thought about it – ignoring Russell's familiar boasting about his alchemical achievements and his father, who'd actually been pretty well known for his work with the military before Russell'd been born – Roy hadn't given his last name, either, or mentioned his rank. He'd told it all to Ed, sure, but probably because Ed could have just dragged the truth from Vato after, if he really wanted to. Or had Roy only decided to lie after he'd met Ed's friends? Didn't want it getting around that the Flame Alchemist was dating a civilian. A male civilian, at that.

Ed mentally shrugged his confusion away. It wasn't really for him to decide what Roy did or didn't want to share, he just needed to pay enough attention to figure out an excuse why he and Roy had supposedly broken up. Maybe, since they didn't know who Roy was, really, he could just say he got transferred back east again? And they'd decided to break it off because Ed was way too settled in Central, now. (His friends would buy that; it was no secret how protective he was of Al.)

Of course, Al was equally protective of Ed, and he hadn't realised he might need to be concerned about that weird quirk, until the moment Al said, "Roy, come help me collect the next round of drinks."

Ed looked over at his brother and frowned when he saw that weirdly calculating look that he'd worn the first time he'd pulled Russell away after Winry'd admitted they were dating. Russell had come back a shaking mess, while Al had looked as smug as whichever of his cats had found the tinned meat Ed had stupidly left open on the worktop and walked away from for half a moment. "I can–" he tried, starting to get up.

"Sit. Down," Al ordered, turning a warning look on Ed that had him sinking back into his seat without any complaint.

Fuck it; Roy was on his own. At least he could use the 'we're not actually dating' excuse?

Roy gently squeezed his shoulder as he rose, then brushed his hand across Ed's back as he stepped past to join Al. Which felt a bit weirdly reassuring, but then Russell started humming a funeral dirge under his breath, and Ed threw his napkin at him, snarling, "I will fuse your clothing to your chair, fucker. Keep testing me."

Russell smiled. "You wouldn't." And then he shot a pointed look at Winry.

Winry, apparently deciding to take pity on Ed, for once, kissed Russell's cheek, then offered, "He won't, but I might pull my spanner out."

Russell swallowed, because all of them were wary of Winry's spanner. "Yes'm."

It didn't take nearly as long for Al to return with Roy as it had for him to return with Russell, which should have been reassuring, except he still looked just as satisfied as he had back then.

Roy, at least, didn't appear shaken, but he was frowning slightly as he passed out his share of the drinks, which didn't really seem to fade all the way, even when he sat down next to Ed and offered him a smile, his eyes warm under the worried furrow of his forehead.

Ed frowned at him in response and mouthed, 'OK?'

The furrow eased away and Roy reached up to cup Ed's cheek, which was way more touchy than Ed had expected, even with all the cheek brushing and the shoulder squeezing and everything so far. "I'm fine," Roy promised quietly.

Ed huffed a bit, and then felt almost disappointed when Roy drew his hand away. Which, okay, fucking hormones or some shit, probably. Something like that.

His brain jumped tracks a bit, as he sipped at his new drink, wondering why Al had cornered Roy when he knew it was fake. Had he figured out who Roy was, and wanted to ask him about it? Or had he decided he needed to discern his intentions toward Ed, or some bullshit? Al'd always been weirdly good at reading people. Maybe he'd seen something in Roy's actions that made him think it wasn't an act? He knew Ed liked guys, sometimes, so maybe he'd been warning Roy off about leading him on.

Which sort of gave Ed some pause, because he hadn't considered the possibility of this little charade maybe leading to a real date until that moment.

Roy was good looking. He was charming. He was an alchemist and clearly smart, if he was half as good as the rumours painted him. (He'd have to be, to have made State Alchemist.) And the way he kept looking at Ed, like he actually mattered, was embarrassing and perplexing, sure, but it was also...nice. Made Ed feel a little less lonely, even if he knew it was fake.

He looked at the rose Roy had given him, which he'd just set on the table above his plate, at first, but then Roy had got a glass from the bar and filled it with water, so it was acting as a sort of table centre, or whatever it was called when there was a flower in the middle of your table. Why had he brought that? To make it seem more real? Or was Ed not the only one who felt left behind because everyone around him was hooking up?

"Ed?" Roy called, hand warm on his shoulder.

Ed started and glanced up, grimacing when he realised everyone was looking at him. "What?" he snarled.

Roy let out a quiet cough that sounded way too amused, and Ed turned his glare on him. Roy smiled in response, then explained, "I was just saying I need to get up early tomorrow, so I should head out soon. You're welcome to stay with your–"

"Nah, I'm good to go," Ed interrupted, because now he kind of needed to talk to Roy. Alone. And the likelihood of him being able to do so after they parted ways was way fucking slim, unless he found an excuse to go into Central Command and hunt down the man's office. Whereupon he'd have to deal with Roy's office team, which could be awkward.

Roy blinked, and then his smile sort of went warm, and Ed had to look away before he started blushing again. "Then we're both off. It was lovely meeting all of you."

Ed grabbed his flower as he stood, to the chorus of farewells from his friends. He made a rude gesture with his free hand, mostly because that's how he always left them, and Roy let out a startled laugh next to him, even as he pressed a warm hand to the small of Ed's back and started pushing him toward the door.

Out on the street, Roy kept his hand against Ed's back as they turned left outside the pub, nearly in sync, and started walking.

Ed stared down at the rose in his hands for a couple blocks, before finally stopping and reaching out to stop Roy before he could keep walking. "Whatever my brother said," he started, because that's what had started his meandering thoughts, "I'm sorry. He's a bit– I dunno. Protective. Dunno why."

"Protective," Roy repeated, before letting out a quiet laugh and stepping around Ed's arm so they were facing each other. "A bit, yes, but he's also quite sharp."

Ed frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Roy sighed, his expression twisting with what looked maybe a little like...regret? Or self-deprecation. Something along those lines. "I'm so used to hiding it," he said, apparently deciding to go off on a tangent, "lying about it, that when you didn't say anything, I just sort of...assumed. So I didn't say anything." And then he unbuttoned the cuff of his right sleeve and pushed it back to reveal the scrawl of letters that started at the inside of his elbow: The name of his soulmate, Ed knew, had seen them enough times on his friends as they all started appearing when they hit puberty.

He clenched his automail fist in reflex, only to freeze as he recognised his name.

When Roy had told Ed his name, he hadn't said it like that because he thought Ed might recognise the name of the Flame Alchemist; he'd said it like that because he'd been expecting Ed to recognise the name of his soulmate. Except Ed's dominant arm had been gone since long before his mark was supposed to appear, so he'd never known.

Feeling a bit like he was in a trance, Ed shoved his right sleeve up, revealing the dull shine of his automail arm. "I was ten," he offered quietly.

Roy nodded. "Your brother told me you'd never known, so it was up to me." He shrugged and shoved his hands into his pockets, looking nothing at all like the confident man Ed had got used to over the course of the evening, and he couldn't help but wonder how much of that, too, had been a lie. "When Falman told me he was looking for a date for an Ed Elric, I told him I'd handle it, didn't tell him I'd be the one to go." He smiled a tired, broken sort of smile. "I know a lot of women – adopted sisters, really; they work for my aunt – and I take them out for dinner or to a show fairly regularly, which is common knowledge, so no one thought to question that I'd know someone." He shrugged, looking away from Ed. "When you didn't say anything, I just assumed you didn't want to get involved with a playboy."

"No, that wasn't–"

"I know." Roy took a deep breath, then straightened and offered Ed a smile, not quite as warm as the ones he'd kept throwing at him during dinner, but close enough. "Hi. I'm Roy," he said, holding out his right hand, his sleeve still pushed up to reveal Ed's name written on his skin.

"E-Ed," he stuttered, taking Roy's hand in return, the metal of his automail gleaming slightly in the light from the nearest streetlamp as they shook.

As he withdrew his hand, Roy quietly offered, "The military frowns on its members being in same sex relationships, even soulmates, and I have a lot of enemies, so I'd understand if you–"

Ed yanked off his glove, then pressed his hands together and quickly transmuted his automail into a wicked blade. "I think," he offered to Roy's wide-eyed stare, "I can take care of myself." But then he sighed and transmuted his arm back. "I get it, though. I've got my share of skeletons in my closet, and there's a chance one of your enemies could unbury them and–"

"No, that's not–" Roy coughed and shook his head. "It can be dangerous, for you, and for the people around you. I'm used to it, signed up for dealing with the military, but you didn't. And having...anything to do with me, really, is going to make you fair game. You deserve to know that; like I said, I wouldn't have been surprised if you didn't respond because you didn't want to put up with my job."

Ed just sort of stared at the man for a minute, chest aching, because this... This was a bit like looking back on himself while Al had been in his coma, trying to push everyone away because he got people hurt. Or Ling and Lan Fan, who had fled to Amestris to escape a bad situation back in Xing, didn't want to let anyone too close because they were afraid trouble would follow them and anyone nearby would get caught up in the outfall. Or Russell and Fletcher, the only two people who knew the whereabouts of their father's research, information that too many people would kill for.

This was why Roy only had two friends, and why they were both in the military. It was also why he'd withheld so much from Ed's friends, to protect them, more than to avoid any awkward questions.

Whatever sentience determined soulmates was probably laughing its fucking arse off, because Ed wasn't the sort of person to shy away from personal danger when walking away meant leaving someone else to fight a battle alone. No matter his personal feelings about the person, he kept at their side; he'd lost too much to do anything else.

So he shoved an automail finger against Roy's chest, narrowing his eyes. "Fuck all that bullshit. I'm not afraid of some shadowy 'could happen's, or any arseholes in military blue looking to throw their weight around. You're stuck with me, now. Moron."

Roy was the one to stare for a moment, then, looking so completely flabbergasted. But, soon enough, his expression softened, eyes gone warm and fond, and his right hand came up to cup Ed's cheek, his own name all-too visible in his periphery vision, even as Roy's dark eyes were what drew his attention. "In that case," he murmured, low and dangerously close to a promise that had Ed flushing again, "perhaps you'd allow me to take you on a real date?"

Ed swallowed and started to nod, before something occurred to him, and he narrowed his eyes. "On one condition."

Roy frowned and leant back a bit. "What condition?"

"How do you start the fire?" Because, seriously, Ed wanted to know. And he'd probably get a lot more out of Roy eventually, if they were dating, but he wanted to know that much before they parted.

Roy blinked once, then let out a laugh that sounded startled, and turned that warm, fond smile on Ed again. "My gloves are made of a special material that creates a spark when its rubbed together."

Ed tilted his head to the side a bit as he considered that, distantly unsurprised when Roy's hand kept contact with his cheek. "Huh. Creating a spark with friction. It's so simple, but, if someone doesn't know about your gloves, it just looks like you're rubbing your fingers together and then, boom, fire."

"Rather like that," Roy agreed, a sort of grim humour in his voice.

Ed refocussed on him and didn't quite know what to do with the too-familiar shadows that had darkened his eyes; he wasn't the only one with skeletons in his closet, clearly, and it looked a bit like Roy's were as closely tied to alchemy as Ed's own.

But then Roy's expression cleared and he was smiling again, warm and fond and completely focussed on Ed. "Would it be too forward, I wonder, to kiss you?" he said, a gleam to his eyes that sent a chill down Ed's spine. Not a bad chill, though.

"Because you haven't already been forward all night," Ed heard himself retorting before he could think better of it. And then, before Roy could take that as a refusal – Ed would have – he pushed forward, getting up on his toes just enough to press his mouth to Roy's.

And then Roy's arms were folding around his back, pulling him closer, and he was leaning down just enough that Ed wasn't straining to meet him. Which was good, because then Roy opened his mouth and licked along Ed's lips, pressed into his mouth when Ed opened, a little surprised. And then Roy's tongue was pressing against his, twisting around it and sparking warmth throughout Ed's body.

Sparks, he thought a little dizzily as Roy pulled back, a faint hint of pink dusting his cheeks, like maybe Ed wasn't the only one who hadn't expected everything to get quite so warm. "Good spark?" he asked a bit dumbly, because his intelligence had apparently gone and fled.

Roy laughed, his breath puffing against Ed's lips in a rather distracting manner. "I think," he replied, "we might be in danger of creating a second sun, though that could just be your eyes."

Ed scowled. "You're an idiot," he muttered.

"Very likely," Roy agreed, apparently unconcerned about the label. "When are you free for that date?"

Date? Fuck, Ed had a real date. A date with his soulmate, even. How the fuck had this happened?

"Tomorrow night?" he suggested, and immediately felt kind of dumb, because that made him sound desp–

"Oh, good," Roy said, and he sounded and looked relieved enough, the little voice the back of Ed's head shut the fuck up. "Eighteen hundred in Dogwood Park?"

Ed was familiar with the park, as it was one of the two closest parks to the university, and within easy walking distance of both his and Al's flat and the library. Because it was a popular gathering point for university students, though, most military sort avoided it, which was, doubtless, the entire reason Roy had picked it for a meetup spot. "Yeah. By the fountain?"

"It's a date," Roy said, his voice full of promise.

"Yeah," Ed agreed, as it hit him, again, that he actually had a real date, for the first time in...years. "It is."

.

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