Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ Underneath it All ❯ A Totally Different Cadence ( Chapter 14 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Roy looked at Ed and he could see he was an oddly amusing mix of pissed and confused. He was shaking his head and rolling his eyes one moment and swearing the next. It had been a long time since he'd seen the blond lose his cool in this manner; so long Roy had thought his temper gone for good. It would have been more amusing to watch if Roy hadn't gotten so bent out of shape over the woman's actions. He didn't think Ed paid much attention but he knew Preston had. If the Hayden native didn't say anything about his reaction, it would shock the hell out of him.
Roy moved to the counter where Preston said he had the scotch, located the flask and dug around until he found a small glass. He poured Ed a healthy measure of the clear liquid and carried it to the distraught man in the living room.
When he held it out to Ed questioning eyes looked up at him and he said, "It'll settle your nerves."
Ed glared at him but took the offered glass and knocked the liquor back in one go. His face twisted and when he sat the glass down he growled out, "Fuck that burned!"
"I'm sure it did," Roy agreed, "it smelled like pretty strong stuff."
Roy waited a few minutes and when Ed grew quiet, he asked, "Feeling better now?"
Angry eyes looked over at Roy before softening as their owner said, "Not really. What the hell did I do to give her the impression that I... I..."
Ed just turned his head and stared at the lamp beside him so intensely Roy thought it might explode. Roy felt sorry for him. He'd realized Ed was mad but he hadn't considered that he possibly thought he'd done something to provoke it.
"And what was that shit she said about how you guys don't share? What the fuck was that suppose to mean? And why did Preston answer no?" Ed blurted all of that out in one breath, not giving Roy any time to answer one question before he asked another. Intense amber eyes were staring Roy down so hard the older alchemist took a seat and sighed. He didn't have any clue where to begin.
"Edo you didn't do anything to cause that woman to hit on you. She simply saw something, or in this case, someone she wanted and went after them. It was a little aggressive but…"
"A little?" Ed asked, sarcasm dripping off his words.
"Ok so a lot, regardless you did nothing to provoke her. I've tried to in every way possible to get you to understand how attractive you are. To most that would make you difficult to approach but to some that just makes you a challenge."
Ed was looking at Roy as if he lapsed into speaking a language he didn't understand. Arms folded across his chest defensively as he slumped down in his seat.
"Now as far as her comment about not sharing and Preston's response goes, that was simply her playing whatever game she felt she had to in order to get to you, and him replying in a way that put her down in a non-confrontational manner."
"But I don't get how insinuating that I was someone's property could be more than an insult to anyone."
Roy poured Ed another shot of Scotch and handed it over. He was going to need it. The General couldn't help but think, All that alchemical genius and this goes right over his head.
He watches Ed drain the glass before saying, "That is and isn't what she was implying Edo."
Blond brows scrunched together in thought for a few moments before the slow dawn of realization took over Ed's expression. "You mean she thought that… That you, me and Preston were… Were…"
"Yes Edo, that's what I'm saying and Preston merely agreed with her in order to get her to back off. Call it staking a false claim if you will. He meant no harm. He was only trying to get rid of her."
Ed flung his left arm across his brow as he slid further down into the armchair. He couldn't believe any of this. He was used to people acting odd around him but this took the cake. He didn't know if he should be mad or scared, because at that moment he was a little of both.
Ed sat up and a shaky hand sat the glass on the coffee table just as Preston walked back in the door.
"Sorry it took me so long guys. There was a line."
"Not a problem Preston, thank you for going to get them," Roy said as he went into the kitchen to help their host with his burden. Once he rounded the corner, Preston looked at him before tilting his head toward the living room where Ed sat.
"Is he ok?" he asked in a hushed voice.
"Mostly," Roy replied, "He was a little confused about the situation but I cleared that up."
"I figured as much, that's why I suggested the scotch."
Roy merely nodded as he continued to take items out of the two bags Preston carried in. There was a lot of food for three people and Roy gave Preston a questioning look.
"Hey I've seen him eat, do you have any doubt he'll polish most of this off?"
Roy chuckled in a low voice and said, "Good point."
They set all of the food out on the table before calling to Ed saying lunch was served. The men talked about what they were going to do with the rest of their day as they ate. Ed showed a lot of interest in the park with the waterfall that Preston had mentioned earlier. Roy on the other hand was interested in the jazz Pub Preston had suggested.
"Well the day is still young so I say we start at the Park and make our way toward the Pub by dinner time. They have an excellent menu."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Ed chimed in as he picked up the container of potato salad and polished it off. Once he had set the empty container down he asked Preston where his bathroom was, and Preston told him it was at the back of the house to the left.
When Ed got out of earshot Roy said, "It's the automail, that and a high metabolism from carting around so much muscle."
"Ah," Preston replied as he mulled over Roy's words. "Once I found out who he was I realized he had to have some but I've never even seen a glimpse of it."
"He keeps it covered," Roy said as his eyes narrowed at Preston.
"Easy there solider. I'd never do or say anything to make Blondie uncomfortable so you can kill the death glare."
Roy was a bit stunned at his words but worked to relax his face. He hadn't realized he'd been giving the man a look.
Preston chuckled at Roy's effort to calm his features. He knew what he was about to do was mean but he had Roy off balance and wanted to test his theory further. "Is he still seeing that Jean guy?"
Roy's face darkened as his brows dipped together before he replied with, "Yes he is. Why do you ask?"
"Oh no reason just wondering, since he's out here again with you," Preston replied as he took a drink of his ice water.
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"You tell me. You're the one playing guard dog and companion."
Roy glared at the younger man but didn't get a chance to reply before Ed came back into the room. The three of them cleaned up their lunch mess and headed for the door. On the way out Preston grabbed his camera off the coffee table, stating that he wanted to get some pictures of the two before they left.
The walk to the park was uneventful, but when they arrived Ed was awestruck and immediately made his way to the ledge closest to the waterfall. Even Roy had to admit the scene was breathtaking. Pristine water cascaded over rocks rounded from years spent in the path of the fall. The fall itself let out into a deep pool of blue water, and if the weather hadn't been starting to cool Ed would be tempted to jump in.
That was something having his leg back had also returned to him, the ability to swim. There was no way he could have swam before with that much dense metal on his body, but now with only the arm to contend with he could swim once more.
As he peered over the edge of the rock he was leaning on, he heard the camera go off. When he turned around it flashed again.
"Well you didn't think I grabbed this just to carry did you? I told you I wanted pictures of you two," Preston declared as he nudged Roy toward Ed.
Ed laughed at the put out expression on Roy's face and told him he needed to smile before he broke Preston's camera. When Roy stood in front of him stiff as a board Ed tugged on his arm until he was sitting on the rock in front of him. Roy didn't loosen up until Ed leaned forward on his shoulders and yelled at Preston to snap away.
A few pictures in, Roy got into the spirit of things, and when Ed wanted to hike down closer to the fall's base the other two men were all for it. Ed didn't waste any time hopping from one rock to the other once they got to the water. Preston was showing Roy some feature on his camera when the green-eyed man looked up and said, "Hold on Roy I have to take this shot."
Roy looked up and what he saw had him agreeing with Preston's statement. There Ed stood on a rock near the middle of the pool looking out at the roaring water. He'd taken his hair down at some point in time and the spray of the waterfall had it swirling around him giving him an ethereal appearance. Roy stood speechless as Preston snapped picture after picture from different angles.
Ed must have finally come back to his senses, or felt himself being watched and turned around. The look on his face was initially wistful until he realized Preston was taking pictures of him and he started laughing. He soon returned to water's edge where Roy and Preston were. Ed held out his hand for the camera, shooed Preston toward Roy, and took a few pictures. Roy did the same thing for Preston and Ed before the trio left the park.
As they made their way back through town, they passed a shop playing music and Ed started singing along with the tune. Preston just looked at him then at Roy, who smirked but said nothing. "Hey you don't sound half bad over there Blondie, do you want to hit an open mic spot? Whoever gets the most applause between the two of us wins and the loser buys the first round."
Ed's eyes grew mischievous as a devious smirk splayed across his face. Roy had to exert quite the effort to keep his facial features neutral. Ed sent him a sidelong glance and it was nearly his undoing. Preston had no idea what he was getting himself into. Roy was glad they only bet a round of drinks… Anything more would have been highway robbery.
When they strolled into the quiet little café there were a few patrons, a bar, a small stage with (of all things) an upright piano and a few tables where people sat eating and chatting. When they walked in and took a seat a smooth rich voice rang out with, "Preston my boy, it's been a while, three weeks at least."
"It's been about that long Landon. How's business been?" Preston asked as he walked up to a cigar smoking, broad shouldered man wearing an apron and carrying a large spatula.
"It's plugging along, nothing to write home about."
"Well I have some friends here I want you to meet," Preston announced as he walked over to where Ed and Roy sat. "This is Roy," he said pointing at the General, "and this is Ed."
"Ed it's so nice to put a face with a name. You've made quite the impression on ole Preston here I swear he talks about you more than…" Preston elbowed him in the side to shut him up as he cleared his throat and tried to hide the flush on his face. "Anyway my name's Landon and any friends of Preston's are friends of mine. What can I do you for?"
"Just a pitcher of tea right now, Blondie and I are gonna borrow your stage and some background music" Preston declared as he urged Ed to stand up and follow him.
As the two fiddled with the equipment on the stage Roy watched them with a smirk on his face. Landon brought back the requested pitcher of tea just as Preston was getting the attention of the crowd. He told them about their little challenge and once everyone focused on the stage, he fired up the music.
Roy was no great judge of music, voices or anything of that nature but in his opinion Preston was pretty good. He was singing a lighthearted tune and while the vocals were not as hard-hitting as what Ed usually sang, they were well done all the same. The crowd seemed pleased and applauded thusly when he finished. Preston gave an exaggerated bow and stepped off the small stage, cocky strut matching the grin on his face.
When Ed approached, Preston asked him if he needed any help with the music. Ed declined, saying he was going to make his own music. His green-eyed friend shot him a questioning look but shrugged his shoulders and took a seat with Roy. Everyone was watching with anxious eyes as Ed turned on the microphone by the piano before plunking out a few notes and simple tunes on the upright. Once he decided the instrument was decently in tune, he flexed his gloved fingers and began to play.
A few notes in and Roy recognized the song as one Ed sang at Fidel's. The crowd was moving and swaying to the beat and few couples had gotten up to dance. Soon Ed was singing his heart out but Roy could see the grin on his face every time he looked at Preston. Preston sat slack jawed staring at Ed until the blond winked at him causing his mouth to snap shut.
When the song ended applause filled the building. As Ed walked over to Roy and Preston, he was wearing a grin that spoke volumes. It was such a perfect mix of mischievous, devious and you fell for it that Roy had to laugh.
"I get the feeling I've been set up."
"Indeed you should have this feeling my good man because that is exactly what I allowed you to do to yourself."
Preston laughed at Ed's response and motioned for him to sit down.
"You know, you never cease to amaze me Blondie. Is there anything you can't do?"
"I wonder that myself sometimes," Roy said as he sipped on his tea.
Ed didn't reply, he merely shrugged and reached for his glass of tea.
Landon brought them out something to snack on and Preston ordered them all a round of bourbon. Landon asked Ed if he was interested in a part-time gig entertaining his customers. As flattered as Ed was by the offer, he had to decline since not only did he already have a part-time gig he wasn't a local and adding another out of town commitment to his schedule was not an option. Landon pouted a bit but he understood.
As the men sat there eating, Preston asked them what they wanted to do for the remainder of the day. Roy looked at Ed and shook his head in a non-committal manner so Ed said, "To be honest I'd like to spend the day just hanging out with you. I don't get to see you often."
"I'm flattered Blondie. I say we hit up Landon for some munchies to go, pick up a couple of bottles of wine and head back to my place. I know you play cards," Preston began as he turned to look at Roy, "do you?"
"Name your game Preston. There isn't much I don't play."
So with snacks in hand the men left Landon's and proceed toward Preston's apartment. As they strolled down the street Preston asked them if they'd paid for both nights at the Inn already and when Roy replied no their guide smirked and said, "Well gentleman I vote we go get your stuff and save you a nights fare. I've got a guest room plus if we get rowdy at my place there's no one to complain."
In no time the three men had Roy's car loaded up with their belongings and they were headed across town. Once they arrived they hauled the necessary items into their friend's apartment. Preston's guest room was just as cozy and inviting as the rest of the photographer's home. Neither man verbalized the fact that they were back to sharing a room and bed. Their eyes met once as they unpacked a few things but neither man said a word. Instead they simply smiled at each other and continued to unpack.
As he laid out the outfit he'd travel back to Central in, Roy wondered if this wasn't part of the reason Preston asked them to stay. Roy knew the two had talked over the dinner they shared but neither man had told him anything that was said. Roy was no psychic but he would place good money on Ed having mentioned the change in their routine.
When they finally joined their host around his dining room table Preston had spread out the snacks, filled three glasses with wine and sat busily shuffling a deck of cards. They started out playing something Preston called five card yak, where the object of the game was to actually have the lowest cards so you wouldn't be stuck with the discard pile at the end of each hand. Roy soon realized fate had it in for him with this game because each hand seemed to find him staring at more than his fair share of face cards.
They played this and several other games as they worked their way through the food on the table. Conversation flowed easily between the men and so did the wine. By the time night fell they all retired to the living room with their glasses and continued to talk about everything from the state of the country to the merits of knowing how to cook.
All seemed well until Preston asked Ed how Al was doing and the Blond's reply of, "probably trying to get laid," stunned both men to the point of them exchanging looks before laughing. The look had nothing to do with Ed's choice in language but had everything to do with him just tossing out something like that about his beloved brother. That and the fact Ed usually avoided talking about anything to do with intimacy like it would give him the plague.
This caused Roy to scrutinize the man and when Ed clumsily reached for one of the chips on the coffee table Roy got a flashback from Havoc's house warming bash. When Ed had become the sudden life of the party Al had pulled him aside and told him that Ed could drink like a fish on most occasions with most kinds of drinks, but a few too many glasses of red wine left him, in Alphonse's opinion, loopy as hell.
From his position on the couch Roy looked over his shoulder at the bottles on the table and by his estimation they had polished off two bottles already and were working on their third.
Preston on the other hand found a tipsy Ed amusing and asked, "Why do you think that Ed?"
"Because he's been cranky as fuck since he broke up with Kara. I told him one morning if he slammed another cabinet door I would go to the library and tell Shezka that he had the hots for her."
"Does he like this Shezka?"
"Nope," Ed said as he leaned back in the chair he was sitting in and flipped a chip into his mouth, "but she sure has a thing for him. Hangs off his every word. I overheard her telling Maria Ross that if she ever got her hands of either one of the Elric brothers she would-"
"ED!" Roy shouted, gaining Ed's attention and effectively cutting him off mid sentence. The blond gave him an annoyed look before chuckling and saying, "Oh come off it Roy I know you of all people are no blushing virgin. Besides you ought to have heard what Maria said she'd like to do to you. I can only imagine the women I'm pissing off by having you out of town for so long."
Preston tipped over laughing and Roy could only guess that was because of the flush tinting his face. He just wasn't used to Ed speaking like that.
"So if this Maria Ross lady and several others have the hots for you Roy why are you single?" Preston asked, and Roy could have choked the smirking man. He knew damn well why Roy was single.
"That's a good question," Ed replied as he held his glass out for Preston to refill, "even I've managed to find someone to date. Or is it a matter of picking through the list."
"Something like that," Roy mumbled as he shot Preston a dirty look.
It didn't faze the man in the slightest. If anything it made Preston laugh harder. They played a few more games and the conversation bounced around until it was after midnight and all parties were yawning.
Despite being tired Ed was still in high spirits and proceeded to hum show tunes on his way down the hall to their room. Their usual routine of taking turns in the bathroom to change was tossed out the window as Ed started peeling out of his clothes as soon as he reached his side of the bed. Socks, shirt, belt, pants…as each item dropped to the floor Roy prayed Ed wouldn't end up naked.
When he halted at his boxer briefs Roy sighed in relief even as part of him was lamenting the fact he didn't get the full show. However what was on display was more than pleasing to the eye. Roy didn't think it was possible for anyone to look any sexier than Ed did at that moment, lopsided grin on his face from having too much wine and a great time. Lean muscle covered nearly every inch of his body due to his active lifestyle. Blond hair loose and spilling down his back as his forever unruly bangs covered one eye.
Yes, Edward Elric had the market cornered on sexy and Roy thought it best to keep his eyes focused on the task at hand. That task being gathering his pajamas and toiletries to take to the bathroom. Just as he was about to leave the room he saw Ed's face scrunch up in thought just before he leaned over and picked up Roy's discarded shirt.
"I think I'll wear this," Ed said as he held the button up shirt up in front of him and wobbled a bit.
Roy said nothing as he watched Ed pull it on then flop down on the bed. He stood corrected; Ed all but naked in his shirt and grinning at him was now officially the sexiest thing he'd ever seen. As Ed made himself comfortable Roy couldn't stop himself from asking, "Not that I care Edo but why are you wearing my shirt?"
Ed rolled over onto his stomach, propped his head up on his fist, and looked up at Roy with half lidded eyes before replying, "Because I like the way you smell."
Roy gave him a relaxed smile but on the inside he felt undone. This was going to a long night if Ed didn't fall asleep soon. When he stepped out of the room shutting the door behind him, he was looking down the hall right into Preston's smirking face.
"Having fun Roy?"
As Roy approached the bathroom he said, "You are an evil, evil man."
"I prefer the term devious, but considering the wine we put away I'll let evil slide tonight."
Roy shook his head and entered the bathroom to change. When he stepped out Preston was nowhere to be seen and for that he was thankful. Roy didn't think his nerves could take anymore than he already had to face concerning one half naked and tipsy Edward Elric. Roy paused with his hand on the doorknob and took a deep breath before turning it.
The room was dark except for the light of the nearly full moon spilling in through the windows. Ed was no longer in bed and stood in front of one of the windows looking up at the night sky. Edward illuminated by moonlight looked like something out of a painting or a dream. Roy tried to shut the door quietly so he wouldn't disturb the young alchemist, but the as soon as it clicked Ed's head snapped around.
"The stars never look this bright in Central."
"Too much residual light from the city," Roy replied from the doorway.
Ed chuckled lowly, "I think the wine has made me wax sentimental."
"Nothing wrong with that, it beats Fuery crying after a few shots any day."
The silence stretched between them until the air in the room grew tense. Roy could tell something was on Ed's mind but he did and didn't want to ask. Tired of the nervous apprehension, he sucked it up like a good little solider.
"What's on your mind Edo?"
"It's going to sound silly."
"Sillier than you and Preston debating over the best way to flip a pancake?"
"Well then you're good to go."
Ed placed his flesh hand on the window pane and leaned forward until his forehead was touching the glass. His other hand was busy tracing invisible circles on the sill. His mind was in a thousand places all at once. He knew without a doubt that something had changed between him and Roy on this trip. To what degree and what it meant for them in the long run he was unsure of but the change was there all the same.
It wasn't until Roy left the room and Ed realized he was wearing the man's shirt eagerly awaiting his return that this fact settled on his mind. Al's words about a deeper level of friendship trickled through his mind but even as it did something was telling him it was more than that…maybe it was the wine.
"Is it just me or has something noticeable…almost tangible happened between us on this trip?"
Roy was stunned. He was prepared to hear a lot of things, more talk on pancakes; semi-drunken ramblings maybe even more trepidation about returning to Central and having to face Winry at some point. A lot of things but not this, not him flat out asking if he noticed the change between them.
Ed turned to Roy then and those serious golden eyes were boring into him. Begging for an answer, begging for help to sort out what was in his head. More than anything Roy wanted to say yes, he wanted to say that he felt it too, he wanted to do anything but give into the fear that held him silently in the doorway.
"It's been an adventure that's for sure," Roy replied feeling like the world biggest coward. It was a copout and even with the amount of wine flowing through his veins he knew Ed knew it.
Ed gave him a lopsided grin and said, "It must be the wine. Come on let's get some sleep."
Roy nodded thankfully and crawled into bed. Ed stood in front of the window for a few moments more before following him. They had to get on the road tomorrow and despite all the questions in his mind he had no desire to do so with a hangover. He settled beside Roy and without much thought he draped his left arm across the man's midsection and laid his head on Roy's shoulder.
Roy hesitated a moment before he wrapped his arm around Ed and pulled him closer to his side. He had lost the ability to care if his actions were questioned or not. This was the last night of his time alone with Ed and if his blond wanted to spend it snuggled up to him he was going to encourage that.
Ed on the other hand had his eyes closed but he wasn't sleeping just yet. His mind was spinning on why he felt so damn comfortable where he was and why he didn't care if he ever moved. He had to fight not to laugh at himself when he realized it was probably a mix of the kindness Roy has shown him during their trip, all the time they've spent together and of course the wine.
They slept in and woke to the smell of pancakes.
Neither man brought up the unfinished conversation last night, choosing instead to go eat and get their day going. They thanked Preston for his hospitality and invited him to Central sometime when he could get away from work. The trip back was spent rehashing the events of their little vacation and all was well until they pulled into the Elric home driveway. I weird sort of melancholy settled over the two and silence stretched between them.
"Thanks for coming with me and putting up with my moods Roy."
"It wasn't a problem Ed, it was my pleasure."
Ed snorted and gave Roy a look. He had wanted to bring up their conversation from last night the entire trip but hadn't found the words or the courage. No time like the present, he thought as he cleared his throat.
"Hey Roy I know we had all had a lot of wine but…"
Just then the front door of the Elric home slammed open and a distraught looking Lena ran out onto the porch and down the steps. The two exchanged a look of confusion before getting out of the car. Before they could round the vehicle, Al came flying out of the house calling Lena's name but she didn't slow her furious retreat, if anything her pace increased.
Al chased her to the end of the block but soon realized not only could he not catch up to her but he had no idea what to say to her if he had. Panting and bent over Al jumped when he felt a hand on his back. He looked up into the concerned faces of his brother and Roy with a sigh.
The last twenty minutes of his day had been more shocking than the young professor could deal with.
"Al, are you ok?"
"Lena she… she just said something to me that shocked me and instead of thinking before I spoke I just… just. Oh god I so fucked up."
"She told you how she felt about you didn't she?" Ed asked.
"She had already told you and you didn't bother telling me!" Al accused loudly.
"No it was just obvious so don't sound so wounded as if I was hiding the fountain of youth from you!"
Roy looked at the two, then up to the old man that had come out on his porch to see what all the ruckus was about and suggested they return to the house to finish this discussion. Both Elric's immediately looked sheepish before turning and taking Roy's advice.
Once they got into the house Ed put on the water for tea and apologized to his brother for snapping at him.
"No Brother, I snapped first so it's my fault it's just that your words struck a sore spot."
"Why don't you tell us exactly what happened Alphonse and we'll see if we can help."
Al let out an exasperated sigh and started with Lena showing up unannounced and him inviting her in for lunch since he was cooking. They had eaten but he noticed she was unusually silent so he asked her what was on her mind. Without much preamble she had said how she was tired of dropping hints and wanted to know if he was ever going to ask her out.
"Well what did you say to that?"
Al slumped forward and let his forehead clunk on the table, "I laughed and said, funny Lena that would be like asking out my little sister, then I asked her what was really on her mind."
"Oh," Ed said as he looked over at Roy who was shaking his head. "That is so not good."
"Tell me something I don't know Brother! She hopped to her feet and started telling me how she wasn't a kid anymore and she was tired of me treating her like one and how sorry she was that she'd ever entertained the notion of me seeing her as anything more than an orphaned brat."
"Damn," was all Roy could think to say. What else could be said? The whole thing sounded like quite the mess. Roy looked between the two and realized they truly did everything together including pissing off women to high degrees at the same time.
"I think you are going to have to give her some space Al. She's had a crush on you for a long time."
"You have no idea how bad realizing that even you had noticed this makes me feel."
"Thanks for nothing Al, but it's apparent that I'm not the only oblivious Elric in town."
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I thought you knew and just weren't interested. I really didn't think a whole lot about it, it's not like she's the only admirer you have, ya know."
That last bit made Roy curious and as much as he wanted to ask he knew now was neither the time nor the place.
"What am I going to do?"
"I would suggest steering clear of her if at all possible until she cools off," Roy suggested as he fixed three cup of tea.
"That would be easier said than done if we weren't all in a band together Roy," Ed said as he sat the cream, honey and sugar on the table. "A band that is scheduled to practice together in about five hours."
At that Al's head thunked back down on the table.
Ed looked at his distraught sibling and his expression grew somber. He knew all too well how Al was feeling. There were just no words of comfort he could offer him, nothing he could do to fix it and that sucked. He looked up meeting Roy's eyes over the slumped figure at the table and Roy looked as lost as he felt. He nodded his head towards the door and the two left the kitchen.
When they stepped out on the porch it was Ed's turn to sigh as he looked at Roy, "sorry about all of that."
"No worries Edo. Life happens, when it happens."
"I know but still…anyway if you're not busy later why don't you come over around five and listen to us practice."
"I'd like that. Let's get your stuff out of the car so you can get back to Alphonse."
Roy wasn't home for an hour before Maes turned up on his doorstep.
"So how was the trip home?"
"It was fine Maes. How have things been here?"
"Same as always, so I take it you didn't do any confessing along the way."
"If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, I'm not saying anything to him."
"It's you loss my friend," Maes said as he flopped down on Roy's sofa. "So what do you have planned for tonight?"
Inwardly Roy flinched before he answered. He knew how his reply was going to sound to Maes, "I'm going over to watch the band practice later."
"Ten days with him to yourself not enough Roy Boy?"
"No it wasn't."
The reply stuns Maes silent for a while before a grin spreads out over his face, "Well at least you are not in denial anymore."
"It is what it is and I can't change it, so why waste energy denying it?"
"Oh but maybe you could change it if you'd say something to him."
"Well I'm not going to do that which means there's nothing I can do about it, so drop it."
There was enough finality in that tone for Maes to do just that. He knew when to stop pushing Roy's buttons. He patted the younger man on the back before dragging him out for a drink and some food.
It took Ed a while to calm Al down but once he did he set out on foot to Jean's house. When he got there the man wasn't at home so he decided to go into town to see if his favorite bookstore had anything new in. As he walked down the streets he noticed a few clouds rolling in and quickened his pace. It's not as if he thought he'd melt if he got caught out in it but he didn't have any desire to be soaked head to toe either.
He left the store with two new books then promptly bumped into Maria and Denny. He asked them what had them in downtown Central and they told him they'd just finished eating. The trio chatted for a little while before going their separate ways. Ed swung back by Jean's to see if he was home and when he still wasn't there Ed made his way back home.
He gave Al the book he'd brought for him and Al informed him that the band wanted to move rehearsal to tomorrow night since it seemed like everyone had had an off day. Ed just nodded thinking it was probably for the best, he was a little tired and had a lot on his mind. He couldn't really say he felt like singing he was too preoccupied to put his heart in it.
He was out on the porch reading his new book when he heard the gate open. He looked up and saw Roy strolling up the walkway and realized he had no way of knowing that band practice had been canceled. When he told him Roy sat down beside him on the porch and asked if the book was any good. They sat there shoulder to shoulder talking about the fantasy novel Ed had picked up. It was book three of a series and Ed said he was completely enthralled with it.
As they sat there talking and laughing neither noticed the figure standing just outside the gate watching them. Jean had been dating Ed for a while now and had no idea his boyfriend ever read a book that wasn't centered on alchemy nonetheless a novel that had him as excited as he seemed to be about the one he was discussing with Roy.
As much as they talked it wasn't often that Ed ever looked that relaxed and joyful around Jean no matter how hard he tried or what the subject matter was. It struck an ill chord with Jean to see it and part of him wanted to shake both of them and just tell them to knock it the fuck off.
The moment he found out Ed was out on some road trip with Roy this was the sort of thing he feared most. He had wondered about the two since the night they had ended up dancing like lovers in front of god and everybody at Fidel's. From that point on he has watched get closer and closer and it made him uneasy. As he sat there looking at them lost in each other's presence he could feel his teeth grinding together.
As Jean continued to look on, he wondered if it was possible for them to be any closer. The wind couldn't even pass between the two they were sitting so close. Ed was grinning so wide he was surprised his face didn't hurt and Roy as eating it up. Having seen enough he pushed open the gate and entered the yard.
As soon as the gate creaked they both looked up and saw Jean strolling up the walkway.
When Ed's face lit up it pained Roy's heart so he asked Ed to say goodnight to Alphonse for him, said a good evening to Jean and excused himself.
Ed walked up to Jean expecting a warm reception but halted a pace away from him when he noted the look on the man's face.
"What's wrong Jean? Please don't tell me you've had a crummy day too."
"You could say that."
"Well what happened?"
"What time did you get back into town today?"
"About noon, why?"
"Oh nothing, it's just that its well after six and I wondering why I hadn't seen you all day but of course it looks like you were busy so that explains it."
Totally missing the implications of Jean's words Ed said, "Yeah life happened the moment Roy and I pulled into the driveway, but that all had more to do with Al than me. How have you been while I was away?"
"Does it matter?"
Ed gave him an incredulous look and said, "Of course it matters. What are you talking about?"
"Don't worry about it Ed," Jean said as he turned to leave. "I'll catch you at work tomorrow."
Baffled, Ed grabbed onto the man's arm to stop him from leaving. As blue and gold faced off thunder sounded in the distance as clouds rolled in overhead. Ed wasn't sure what he'd done but he got the undeniable feeling he'd done something and he didn't want Jean leaving until he found out what it was.
"Easy there handsome. What did I do?"
"Nothing I see changing anytime soon so don't worry about Ed."
"How can I not worry about it when you are this upset? Why won't you tell me what's wrong?"
"Because you can't make me into something I'm not."
"What's that suppose to mean? I'm confused."
"I know you are and that hurts more than you could ever know."
With that Jean walked away leaving a dumbfounded Ed standing in the middle of his yard. As he watched Jean get smaller he didn't know what to do. He had no idea what had just happened and that left him with no course of action.
When the first droplets of rain started to fall Ed was still standing in the yard looking out into the horizon. He started to turn and go in but he knew Al would know something was wrong the instant he saw him and he had enough on his plate without Ed adding to it. Without much thought Ed dashed up on the porch, stuck his head in the door and shouted that he was going for a walk.
Without even grabbing his jacket he set off on foot toward town.
He walked around in the drizzle thinking in circles until the soothing sprinkle turned into a downpour. Not wanting to go home but not wanting to stay out in the elements without even thinking his feet carried him to Roy's doorstep.