By just working with the University, Alfons figured he had already met a lifetime's worth of strange people. Scientists weren't exactly known for their explicit normality, especially his comrades in the rocketry and aerospace department. It wasn't uncommon to see men come in with two different socks or their shirts lopsided due to skipping a button somewhere along the way; they had far more pressing matters on their minds.

But Edward Elric, was, by far, the strangest of the strange. It seemed like everything the new scientist did just created more questions and confusion for his coworkers. And, as his best friend (if you could really call it that), Alfons was determined to figure him out.

He had come in early that morning- true to his "mad science" nature, he'd been struck in the middle of the night with an idea about how to get enough power in the boosters to overcome friction as well as Earth's gravitational field, all without causing the entire rocket to self-combust, and he couldn't wait to test out this latest theory.

Alfons was so caught up in his calculations, in fact, that he missed the sound of the door creaking open and shutting heavily.

"Ah, mister Al-Alphonse Heidrich?" Alfons definitely hadn't heard that vioce before- he'd have remembered such a heavy foreign accent. And he would've already corrected the pronunciation of his name- this man had sounded it out like "Alfonze Haydrich" (the "rich" pronounced like the synonym for "wealthy"). He looked up and locked eyes with the strangest man he'd ever seen at the University- and that was really saying something.

He looked exactly like the history professor Alfons had met a few times... Honnen... Hostenstein.. no, Hoenheim. That is, if Professor Hoenheim was de-aged to about Alfons's own age. The same long gold ponytail and matching gold eyes, though the newcomer had heavy bangs as opposed to the Prof.'s thick beard.

At the moment, Mr. Hoenheim-Junior was staring directly back at Alfons, eyes as big as plates and mouth slightly agape.

"Alphonse- Al?!" All traces of formality were gone, replaced by utter shock and... sadness?

"Erm, can I help you, Mr...?" Of all things, this reaction was definitely not one Alfons had been expecting. "And, just for the record, it's Alfons. Alfons Heidrich." He stood up and offered his hand to the still flabberghasted stranger.

"Oh, uh, I'm Edward Elric. Sorry- you look just like someone..." Edward shook his head as if trying to wake up from an unpleasant dream, taking Alfons's hand and shaking somewhat limply. He made no move to finish his sentence.

"Well, nice to meet you. Excuse me for being rude, but is there a reason why you're here?" It took Edward a few seconds to process the question before he began to dig through his coat.

"Yes, I was sent by Professor Neumayer-" another name horribly botched by the accent "- to... what's the word... meet you, I guess. I am joining your team today, and he is not here. I have a note from him somewhere..."

It took Edward a moment to find the piece of paper as he dug through a variety of pockets in his pants, vest, and brown trench coat. He eventually handed Alfons the scrap, now a bit crumpled and torn.

Mr. Heidrich,

This is Edward Elric- he will be joining your research team today, and because you are closest to him in age, I am sure you will be wonderful at "showing him the ropes", so to speak.

He is the son of Professor Hoenheim, a good friend of mine, and although he comes from far away and has a slight language barrier, I assure you that he is an extremely bright mind with lots of new ideas. I am sure he will make a wunderbar addition to your team.

Professor Neumayer

So he was Hoenheim's son after all- that definitely explained things (although he wasn't going to ask why they had different last names, or why Hoenheim was German while Edward definitely was not). Alfons looked back up at Edward, who was glancing around the lab curiously, muttering a little under his breath.

"Well, Edward-"

"Call me Ed."

"Okay, Ed, then. Welcome to the team. No one else is here yet, but when the head gets here, I'll introduce you."

Ed nodded gratefully. "Thank you."

"It says here that you're Professor Hoenheim's son, right? I know he doesn't teach here, but I've met him before." Ed scowled visibly.

"Yeah, unfortunately so." Okay... time to switch topics.

"And you aren't from here, either. I can't place you accent, but..."

"It's Amest- um, American."

"Oh, neat. I've never been to America." Ed snorted as if laughing at an inside joke. Alfons just barely heard him mutter the reply under his breath.

"Makes two of us." But he must have just been hearing things, right? After all, it was early, and Alfons hadn't had any coffee yet.

"So, what's your major here?" he asked.

Ed looked perplexed. "My major? I'm here for rocketry, no?" Alfons had forgotten the language issue.

"Well yeah, but what field of rocketry are you into? For instance, I'm in physics- friction, gravity and the like." Ed seemed to understand now.

"Chemistry- that's the word, right? Studying the chemical breakdown of matter."

"Right. And that's good- our last chemistry guy moved to Stuttgart a few months ago."

"That's why I'm here," Ed replied.

They made small talk for a bit longer- Alfons learned a little more about the strange new scientist:

Ed was eighteen (only a year older than Alfons, yet Ed was still considerably, for lack of a better word, smaller...), and was extremely, extremely sensitive about his height- no more jokes on that matter, Alfons decided.

He had only been in Germany for a few months and had been living with his father until recently, his mother died when he was very young, and while he had a brother and some others close to him, he didn't have any other family "over here" (Alfons couldn't tell whether that was a language mistake- maybe a reference to across the ocean from America- or an intentional wording, but he decided to not press the matter upon hearing Ed's tone of voice).

Finally, while he knew practically everything there is to know about chemisty- he had been studying since he for four, for God's sakes!- his physics knowledge was little to none.

Alfons couldn't help but laugh at the last one. "Don't worry- I didn't know anything about chemistry in regards to rocketry before I came here, but you catch on really fast." Ed managed a small grin that didn't really meet his eyes. He was obviously still a little distracted from the previous conversation- probably the talk of his family. Alfons didn't blame him. They were interrupted by loud church bells signalling the change in hour.

"So it's seven- you aren't required to be here until eight, but most of the men should be here around thirty minutes from now. In the meantime, do you want any coffee? I can never really wake up without it." One of the downsides of getting up so early every day and staying up so late every night was the development of Alfons's fierce coffee addiction. Ed laughed a little.

"Same here. I'll go with you- but s that work over there finished already?" Ed gestured to the half-completed blueprint that Alfons had been so eager about earlier. For some reason, this new guy seemed a lot more interesting.

"I can do it later. You coming with? The university makes some of the crappiest coffee in Germany, but caffeine is caffeine, I suppose."

"Just no milk in it," Ed said with dead seriousness as Alfons opened the heavy lab door once again.

Okay, I watched the Conqueror of Shamballa movie not to long ago (spoliers!)... and am obsessed with Ed and Al-Heidrich. I don't ship them (just friendship/brotherhood), but this has been on my mind for a while. Should eventually turn into a collection of oneshots, though I won't be updating very often... enjoy!

Also: I refuse to admit that Alfons Heidrich died. There may be some oneshots with both Alphonse and Alfons, so deal with it.

Thanks for reading!