The fact is that Roy likes reading trashy novels.
At first Ed thought that maybe it was one of those things that people do to try to make their houses look homey—buy a lot of books, cram ’em in the shelves, talk a lot of shit about literature and pretend to be a poet, whatever. But the more time he’s spent at Roy’s place, the more he’s come to realize that the bastard never bothers with any other shows of domesticity—he owns, like, three bath towels, although they’re all absurdly fluffy ones; most of his dishes were clearly either gifts or purchases made out of sheer necessity, and the man doesn’t have a fucking ice cream scoop; and the Amestrian army’s most celebrated general throws shit at the laundry basket and frequently misses. Ed got a scandalized expression that gave way to a startled laugh the one time he had a notebook handy and held up a score card afterwards.
In addition—as Ed observed after he got the idea into his head—all the shitty paperbacks have creases on their spines, start to finish. Their saving grace is that they aren’t dog-eared and bookmarked and don’t get little fingertip caresses as Roy walks by the shelves; those he reserves for books with quality. Which is good, because otherwise Ed would probably have to dump his dumb ass.
Ed doesn’t really get fiction. Al tried to explain it to him one time, then gave up with a long, tinny rattle of a sigh and just shoved a few specimens at him, but that didn’t really help, either. As far as Ed’s concerned, the point of books is to learn things, and you can’t do that from something that’s made up—especially since most of the authors don’t seem to have the slightest fucking clue about the reality of what they’re making shit up about. Al once made the mistake of letting Ed pick up a novel about a chemist in a little train station bookstore where they were killing time. Long story abbreviated, they got kicked out; Ed regrets nothing.
In any case—Roy fucking likes reading that shit.
But Ed’s not stupid, obviously, so he’s mostly figured out the reason, too. It actually has to do with the very nature of the thing, i.e. that the crappy books are crap.
When he is not at home, failing to vacuum in the corners of his living room, ever, seriously, Roy is extremely busy and extremely focused on the parts of his masterplan for governmental ascendancy that don’t involve too much paperwork. He thinks a lot—practically all the time. Probably even more than Ed, in his way, in the sheer volume and convolution of the thoughts in question; Ed’s thoughts are long and branchy, but more or less linear. Roy’s are a big-ass web comprised of almost as much conjecture as fact, back and forth and sideways and in circles sometimes, and there’s a lot more at stake if Roy guesses wrong about something than just an experiment blowing sulfurously up in his face.
The books, though, are insipid. And they are, critically, simple.
Roy likes reading trashy novels because they’re just enough to distract him from all the shit that he would’ve been thinking about if he didn’t have some dumbass writer’s incorrect assumptions to amuse himself with instead.
So Ed figures… he can have them. If he really, really fucking wants.
Plus there’s a joke in here somewhere about the fact that he’s recently been favoring horse books—a joke just waiting for the day Ed finally spots the perfect moment and slings that motherfucker good.
For the moment, though, Roy’s been reading for about forever, give or take a half-hour or so; and Ed ran out of arrays to tweak and rearrange inside his head; and he’s not really sure he wants to go to sleep yet, but he also doesn’t want to get out of this cozy-ass bed and find anything else to do, so… there they are.
It’s a warm enough night that Roy’s been sitting on top of the covers instead of underneath, leaned back against the headboard with his legs stretched out. Ed crawls out from under the sheet and proceeds partway down the bed, flopping down on his front to examine his new target. He pokes one experimentally.
Roy glances up. Roy blinks, peering over the top of the frame of his stupid-gorgeous glasses. And then Roy smiles, in a way that used to look sort of condescending and indulgent when Ed was having a bad day, but now seems unmistakable as fond.
“Yes?” Roy says.
“‘Yes’ what?” Ed says. He looks down again, not to hide the fact that just that fucking smile kind of makes his face warm up, or anything. “I like your knees.”
“Thank you,” Roy says.
What a bastard. The correct response to that is obviously What the hell is wrong with you, You’re crazy, Get the hell out of my bed before you splatter machine oil all over my sheets again, or any two of the above.
You can’t trust Roy to do anything right sometimes.
“Sure,” Ed says, feeling vaguely unbalanced by the fact that Roy doesn’t seem to have a problem with people randomly complimenting his knees.
“You know,” Roy says, and he’s setting the book down on the nightstand without even marking his page, which is sort of what Ed wanted in the first place, but now he can sense a Weird Thing going on, “I rather like yours, too.”
Ed stares. Roy just keeps smiling.
“The fuck, Roy,” Ed says, which he thinks illuminates the issue rather aptly. “They don’t even fucking match. I mean, honestly, I don’t even have ‘knees’, I have ‘knee’, singular, ’cause—”
“Why do they have to match for me to like them?” Roy asks.
The man is unhinged. It’s too late to save him. There’s nothing to be done.
“Mine don’t quite match either,” Roy says before Ed can muster a tear for the loss of a great, great, admittedly-very-bastardly man. “Look at the right one.”
Ed looks. He does have a hell of a scar there—thick and sort of ribbed, like the original wound got stitched up too tight and ended up healing wonky.
Ed runs his fingertip along the slight curve of it. Roy’s not an especially hirsute—that is his word, the shit—guy, but he has a couple hairs hanging around, and sure enough, they’re not exactly symmetrically distributed on both knees.
“Huh,” Ed says.
He can’t really explain what he means about his, though—not without Winry sensing from several hundred miles away that he’s talking smack about her masterpiece, which is not the point, but subtlety is about as much her forte as it’s his. He doesn’t especially want to incur a long-distance wrench to the cranium, especially when Roy probably already knows what he’d be saying anyway, because Roy knows just about everything—which is sometimes an indescribable pain in the ass, and sometimes an enormous relief. Usually the relief. Usually…
Roy’s taking off his stupid-cute glasses and half-folding them and setting them on top of the book cover and stretching his arm out across the headboard, which is the understood invitation for Ed to crawl up and nestle in without anyone having to say the word cuddle out loud.
He’s so focused on pretending not to be excited about it as he dives into the embrace that the words come out more honest than he’d intended.
“You can’t make me like myself, y’know.”
Except Roy’s sort of—smiling, contentedly, by the touch of it in his voice.
“Can’t I?” he says. “I tend to think I can, or at the very least that I’ll die trying. Perhaps I’ll be commemorated in song. I hope you’ll honor my memory by constructing all kinds of appropriately grand and dignified statuary.”
“Roy,” Ed says, “if it’s grand and dignified, it’s gonna have fuck-all to do with your memory.”
There is a long pause.
“Oh, God,” Roy says. “I can’t think of a single rebuttal that doesn’t sound positively ludicrous in light of all of the sordid secrets you know about me.”
“You’re damn right,” Ed says, wriggling in a little closer.
“Alas,” Roy says, arm tightening around Ed’s waist, cheek settling on top of his head. “What an unspeakable tragedy.”
“If you really want a statue,” Ed says, “I’ll make you one in the backyard.”
“No, thank you,” Roy says. “I suspect I’d wake up one morning after having teased you a bit too thoroughly to find that there were dicks drawn all over my statue’s face.”
“Really?” Ed asks, glowering up at him. “Who the hell do you think I am?”
Roy kisses the bridge of his nose. “Precisely the person I fell in love with.”
“Exactly,” Ed says. “I’d vandalize it way more creatively than that.”
Ed would walk through fire for the sound of that helpless laugh Roy has when they’re safe and sound and totally alone.
“Forgive me,” Roy says.
“No way,” Ed says, which would probably be more convincing if he could stop nuzzling at Roy’s neck and all that shit. It’s not his fault Roy always smells so fucking good. “Make it up to me later.”
“My pleasure,” Roy says, eyelids low, and even if Ed didn’t have a hell of a lot of practice reading that goddamn fucking inescapable slow smolder of a look—well. A monkey couldn’t mistake the intention.
“Oh, yeah?” Ed says, fighting the curl of heat that unfurls in the center of his chest and starts sinking low.
This is it. This is his moment.
He takes a breath, grins, and jerks his chin towards the rearing stallion on the cover of the stupid book. “You gonna make me scream until I’m hoarse, Mustang?”
On the one hand, that sort of kills the mood for sleepy sex.
On the other, nobody else—nobody on the fucking planet; Ed’s listened close enough to double-check—has ever gotten the same laugh out of Roy that he does.
The fact is that Roy’s a giant freakin’ dork, and Ed’s one of the not-too-many people privileged enough to know.