This is one of the most self-indulgent things I've written but it didn't turn out too bad, so why not. It follows Serpent's Gold.
Title: Prelude to a Dance
Genre: Romance, AU
Summary: "Fancy meeting you here."
Roy wondered now why he had never noticed Ed before. He had, of course; the kid with the bright blond hair and his nose in a book who always seemed to be sitting in that particular spot outside the library had caught his eye more than once. But now he noticed him—the lithe form, the animalistic grace in the way he was sprawled out over the bricks of the plant terrace, the intense focus he was paying to the book in his hands. His jeans were ripped at the knees and his sweatshirt had seen a few too many washings but at this point Roy wasn't sure there was anything that could make him look the least bit mundane.
Roy paused at the terrace. "Fancy meeting you here."
Ed—frowned at his book.
That wasn't the reaction he'd been hoping for.
The boy sitting next to Ed—softer featured but with similar coloring—gave him an apologetic smile. "Don't worry, it's not you. He hyperfocuses." In the same breath his hand shot out and neatly snatched the book out of Ed's grasp.
"Hey! What the fuck're you—oh, hi." Ed's eye caught Roy's and he went from scowling to grinning in the span of a few words.
That reaction Roy could live with.
"Hi yourself," he smirked back. "That must've been quite an enthralling text."
"Eh, the guy's mostly an idiot." He made a few grabs for the book while the other boy played keep-away. "He did some intriguing work on retroviruses but completely overlooked their application in—ow!" His companion evaded his hands and thwacked him over the head with the book. "The fuck, Al!"
The book-wielder—Al—smiled up at him. "You must be Roy Mustang."
Roy smirked back. "I must. And you two must be related."
"S'my diabolical little brother, Alphonse," Ed supplied, rubbing the top of his head. "Don't let the innocent face fool you."
He laughed. "I study politics. Believe me, I know better."
"Oh yeah!" Ed brightened, his irritation apparently forgotten. "Me and Al were having an argument about that: is poli-sci the study of how people have ruled the world, or is it learning how to rule the world yourself?"
Roy laughed again, taking a seat on the bricks next to Ed. "Well, I suppose that depends on your concentration. Some poli-sci majors become politicians, but most end up advisors or turn to analytics."
"What about you?" Ed leered at him. "You seem like you might be the rule-the-world type."
Roy only smirked. "That would be telling." He shrugged. "It's mostly a lot of reading studies and looking at statistics, really. Boring stuff. What about you? What's your concentration in biochemistry?"
"Immunology and gene therapy," Ed supplied. "I sorta focus on why shit goes wrong. Al focuses more on restructuring and repairing."
"That's the idea." Ed pulled his knees up, hooking his arms beneath them. "Divide and conquer and all."
"We've always bounced research back and forth anyway," Al added. "This way there's less redundant work."
Ed's hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, and Roy found himself fascinated with the way it swung every time he moved. If anything the gold shimmer was even more alluring here in the sun than it had been under the stage lights.
"So you got a class around here or something?" Ed asked. "I thought the poli-sci building was across the quad."
"Maybe I've been being drawn in by your magnetism."
Ed grinned and rocked back against his arms. "Well sure, but I mean besides that."
Al rolled his eyes.
"I work in the morning. I live too far away to make it worth going home, so I usually grab lunch and then wait in the library until my afternoon class. Lets me get some reading done."
"And what does Roy Mustang read about? Not all politics, I hope."
Roy laughed. "Oh god no. I think my brain would melt." He leaned back on his hands. "This is my time for escapism."
"So, what is it?" Ed pressed. "Mysteries? Scifi? Al reads romances."
The boy's ears pinked. "They're not—romance-romances. I mean, not the pulpy kind."
"Ah." Roy grinned, feeling a little self-conscious as he dug around in his bag. "Funny you should say that." He handed over his current dime novel.
Ed took one look at the cover and burst out laughing. He fell back against the mulch with a cry of "Oh god there's two of you!"
"But only the good ones," Roy assured them as Al took the book to look a little closer. "I get them on recommendation. I really read any kind of book that looks interesting, but—these ones are good. Honest."
"You're both saps."
"Brother, get out of the plants," Al muttered without looking up from the book.
"I told you, it's my escapism," Roy defended as Ed obligingly sprang upright. "Sometimes you just want to know it's all going to turn out in the end."
Ed waggled his eyebrows. "Turn out all right—plus hot sex?"
"They aren't all explicit," Roy sniffed. "But yes. That too."
Ed had bark and leaves clinging to his hair and Roy decided it would be criminal to pass up such a good excuse to reach over and run his fingers through that golden ponytail. Only to help remove the debris, of course.
Ed reached back and yanked the tie free, shaking his hair out. Ostensibly to finger-comb the debris out, but the sidelong look made the invitation clear. Roy was only too happy to accept. He ran his fingers along his scalp and then out the full, glorious length, delighted to find that it was just as silky as it looked. Ed tilted his head, all but purring at the attention.
"All right, you two." Al glowered at them. "Am I gonna have to tell you to get a room?"
"Prude," Ed complained. But he did sweep his hair back into a ponytail, much to Roy's disappointment.
He picked one last leaf out of Ed's bangs and flicked it at the younger brother. "I would never conduct myself improperly in public."
Al let out a hmph and tossed the book back to him. "Right. We gotta get to class, anyway—c'mon, Brother. You're on thin ice with the professor already."
"It's not my fault he was wrong."
"Well you didn't have to be so snarky about correcting him." Al rose, with the same easy grace his brother displayed. Roy wondered if it was a familial trait or learned. "It was nice meeting you, Roy."
"You too, Al."
Ed bounced to his feet, shaking the last of the mulch off his sweatshirt. "Hey, uh—I'll see you Thursday, right?"
"I'll be here," Roy assured him with a smile.
The way Ed's face lit up when he grinned was fast becoming one of his favorite things.
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