A/N: This story was started as a gift to cryogenia from LJ who wanted a Hei/Ed story for Christmas. This fic will be a multi-chapter story, and won't be finished before Christmas, but it is being started before Christmas.

This story starts before the movie and after the series. It might follow some of the points from the movie and such as we go along, but it's mostly divergence starting after the end of the series. The chapters will probably be on the short side, because LJ doesn't seem to like to let me post longer things (I'm still trying to find a way to get around that...)

One last note before you read. I've never written a story with this paring. I think I may have read a couple of one shots with Hei/Ed and a couple doujinshi with them, but that's it, so I'm a little nervous about writing this...

Okay I'll shut up now.

Cypher

(Noun)

A mathematical element that when added to another number yields the same number.

Cypher

Chapter One

Books

Alfons Heiderich furiously scribbled his notes as the professor talked. Amazing was the only word he could think of to describe Professor Hohenheim. The man was truly a mathematical genius. This was only the third week into class and Alfons couldn't get enough.

Amazing...

Today was the day, though. Today, he would ask Professor Hohenheim what he knew about rocket science and perhaps even some helpful books. He had already read a lot of books, and he'd been working on rockets for sometime now, but there was always something more to learn if you looked for it.

The professor scribbled one last thing on the chalkboard, then turned and said, "and that, gentlemen, is how it is done." He glanced around the classroom to see if there were any questions before saying, "Class dismissed."

Nervously, Alfons tucked his book, writing pad, and pen back in his bag, then stood up. Professor Hohenheim wasn't scary; in fact, the man had a very mild and pleasant manner about him, but Alfons was just so intimidated by the shear amount of knowledge he had that he couldn't help but feel nervous.

As he made his way through the throng of students, Alfons watched as the professor talked to a couple of students and pointed to different spots on the board. Some people were just too shy to ask questions during class. His lips turned up into a small smile. He was one of those.

Professor Hohenheim was an older man, though how old, Alfons couldn't have guessed. The man was rather tall and wore his sandy-blond hair back in a long ponytail at the base of his neck. A few long strands in the front were loose from the rest of the hair and hung partially on the side of his face, partially over his face so that if you were looking at him in the eyes, through his glasses, you would see some of the hair. The man also had a beard and the strangest mustache-type...whatever... on his face. The hair tapered off as it began over his lip until it was completely devoid of any hair at all.

Very odd.

"Can I help you, Alfons?"

He started slightly, not sure when his mind had drifted.

"Alfons?" the professor said with a kind smile.

It never ceased to amaze him that although Professor Hohenheim had over five hundred students, one hundred students in this class alone, the man was always able to remember his name.

"Uh...yes, professor...well..." Alfons stammered. He looked away and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. "I was wondering if you knew anything about rocket mathematics and...or, um...even knew of any good books...?" He trailed off feeling even more awkward.

"As a matter of fact, I think I have a couple of books in my office. If you'd like to borrow them I would be happy to loan them to you."

Alfons's blue eyes widened in surprise and he looked back at the professor. "I would really appreciate that! Thank you so much! I swear I'll treat them with even more respect than I would my own books!" he exclaimed in excitement.

The taller man chuckled and picked up his books and notes. "I know you will."


As they neared the door that led to the professors' offices, Alfons fidgeted nervously. He'd never been in this section of the university before, and that, combined with the fact that the professor trusted him with his own books was too much for him to keep completely contained.

The professor opened the door and as they walked through, the secretary, a classy blonde woman, said, "Professor Hohenheim."

"Yes?" he asked, glancing at her.

The woman's painted lips turned up into a small smile. "Your son is here."

"Oh?"

She nodded and said, "He's waiting for you outside your office."

"Thank you, Sofie," the professor said and began walking away. She nodded again, gave Alfons a small smile and went back to her work.

Alfons ranked his fingers through his short whitish-blond hair. Professor Hohenheim didn't seem like the type of man who had kids, he seemed more like the 'forever bachelor' type. He shrugged unconsciously as he stared at the man's back. He supposed you couldn't really know a person just by looking at them.

As they neared the door to then man's office, Alfons noticed someone sitting on a chair outside the door. His first thought was that it was someone in their early teens, but his facial features were that of someone in his late teens.

"Edward," Professor Hohenheim said, but the other didn't look up. Unfazed by this, the man pulled a set of keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door. When it was open, he continued, "I have a student who..."

But he was suddenly interrupted by the telephone ringing. The man's thin eyebrows rose and he said, "I've been expecting a call...I think that may be it. Why don't you two keep each other company?" And with that, the door shut tightly.

Alfons sighed and looked down at the professor's son, Edward. The other had long yellow-blond hair that was held up in a high ponytail. He was wearing brown pants, and a white, high-collared shirt under a brown vest. Over all of that, he wore a long, and heavy looking, brown trench coat. He was reading a book, though Alfons really couldn't tell what it was about.

He shifted on his feet in uncomfortable confusion. The professor had said to keep each other company, but the man's son didn't seem very interested in doing that. Clearing his throat, Alfons said, "So...um...your name is Edward?" he asked, not really knowing what to say.

"That's what he said," came the short reply.

Alfons folded his arms and glanced at the door. He wondered how long the professor would take...

"Hm...um, well...how old are you?" he asked, trying to think of something else to start a conversation with. This, however, did not seem to be the best of topics because Edward's body tensed and his fingers clenched tightly to the book.

"How old do you think I am?" he asked in a tight voice.

Feeling slightly panicked now, Alfons quickly cast his mind about for an answer that might not offend. The only problem was, he wasn't sure what that would be.

"Well...I'm really bad at guessing people's age..." he said and thought that guessing higher than what he thought might be the best route. "Eighteen...? Nineteen...?" he asked, his heart beating in his chest. A fight would definitely not win him any points with the professor.

The blond visibly relaxed and nodded. "Eighteen."

He's older than me...? Alfons thought in surprise. He'd thought those numbers might be a bit high...

When Edward said nothing more, Alfons said, "You sure are lucky to have such a smart man for a father. He's a really good professor, my favorite."

Still not looking up, the shorter teen snorted and said, "You must have really bad taste in professors then. He's just full of shit; anyone with a brain would know that."

Alfons blinked and tried to stop the blood that was flowing to his cheeks from embarrassment. He was trying to think of something to say when the door to the office opened and Professor Hohenheim walked out carrying a couple of books.

"These are the books I was thinking of. I hope they're useful."

"I'm sure they will be," he replied happily. "Thank you again, professor."

"I'm happy to do it, Alfons."

When the professor said his name, Edward's head jerked up sharply. When he looked at him, the other teen's eyes widened and he stared dumbly at him.

"I'll take good care of them," he said and turned to leave. The professor might be okay enough, but his son just seemed a little too stand-offish, not to mention a tad strange, for his liking.


After lighting the candle, Alfons grabbed the book and snuggled more deeply into the covers. He knew he probably should go to sleep, but he wanted to start on those books. He was about to open one of them when he noticed a small bit of paper sticking out from the pages. Curious, Alfons pulled it out and looked at it.

The note read:

Alphonse –

Keep this book as long
as you need to. If you
have any questions,
please feel free to ask
me at any time.

The note went on to give Professor Hohenheim's address and phone number. The teen frowned slightly as he stared at the note. Despite the fact that the professor always remembered his name, the man never seemed to be able to spell it correctly...

Shrugging it off, Alfons set the note aside and started reading. It was nice that the professor had thought of him, but he was sure he'd never need to call the man or go to his house...