Commercials. They just had to put the longest commercial break just before the number one.
Jean sighed, taking his eyes off the TV screen and beginning to prepare coffee. He wanted to kiss whoever thought of putting a small TV in the kitchen. It was more than convenient.
He stopped his humming, hearing voices getting closer to kitchen.
"Good morning!" He called happily, earning similar responses from his three friends.
Jean was unusually happy these past days because of the reunion of friends after a long time. For the last two days, Hughes family was staying with them and Riza was uncommonly free - obviously results of her own doings – so four friends were spending time together again, like they used to in the past.
Although the get-together was great and fun, the reason for it wasn't a happy one. Jean glanced at Roy before shifting his questioning stare to Riza and Maes.
"I'm ok, Jean." Roy said with a bored tone, then added after seeing what he was doing, "I hope you're preparing coffee for me too."
"Your permission is only for this week, you know," he said, "next week you chores will begin."
A soft laugh, "I know, I know."
One week ago, in separate places of the country, they all watched the news in horror.
Edward Elric had cheated on Roy.
To say that Roy was devastated would be an underestimation.
There were no problems with their relationship and Roy, too, learned the news on TV. Edward didn't even call him to tell it personally.
In the eyes of Jean, Edward Elric lost all his value. His anger towards him was in such a high level that if he would see him on the street, he would jump on him to attack him and hurt him, as much as he hurt his friend. For the last few days, his best friends tried their hardest to cheer Roy up, even Elysia noticed his depression and did her cutest tricks to him; Roy was getting better bit by bit, although it was apparent for his friends that he neededa lot more time to completely heal. Still, at every chance he could find, he said how much he appreciated their presence with him.
Even though Roy had been very happy, his friends were somewhat disturbed about his relationship with Edward, even from the start. The blond man lived in a whole different world, a league out of their reach. He got everything he wanted on a silver plate and the entire world wanted his attention; he was swimming in glory, success, fame and power.
It was a treacherous feeling but they were happy that Roy got rid of him and returned back to their friendship. None of them talked about it, it was guilty enough that they were feeling it, let alone talk about it, but it was there and all three of them were aware of it. Like the way they knew Roy would get over his hurt sooner or later.
Jean's head snapped to the TV and tuned out all the sounds except it as soon as he heard the end of commercials.
"In the last hour, we counted down the juiciest couples of the entertainment. We passed the fam –"
"Jean!" Riza called but she was ignored.
"Jean!!" Maes tried this time, trying to find the remote and seeing it in the blond's hands, he hit his shoulder, earning and "Hey!" from Jean.
"What are you doing?" the blond man asked in a loud voice, his eyes never leaving the screen.
"Try anot-" he wasn't fast enough. The background voice had already announced the number one couple.
It took Jean's mind a few seconds to grasp his friends' intentions but by that time, Roy's eyes were already glued to the screen showing his and Edward's photos and interviews. As quickly as he could, Jean changed the channel, a news one for safety.
He shot an apologetic look to Riza and Maes before glancing to Roy, and he noticed guiltily that he was biting his lower lip slightly and his eyes already had the distant and watery look. They were focused on the screen when the dreaded name was heard from the TV again.
"- was hospitalized after the horrible accident yesterday night. His condition is still unknown and the crowd outside the hospital is getting impatient. The other...oh..." the reporter stopped for a moment, listening something from his earphone, "Elric's doctor will inform us abut his condition now."
The scene changed to a hospital and a doctor in his white coat standing in front of the gates, surrounded by microphones and reporters. The occupants of the room stared to the screen, trying to understand what everything was about, alert in case this was some kind of paparazzi news that would remind Roy the emotions he tried hard to forget.
The middle-aged doctor started to talk, "The surgeries were successful and Edward Elric's condition is not fatal at the moment. He is under intensive care currently. Unfortunately, because of his head injuries, he is in comatose state and it is unknown when he will get out o-"
The sound of glass shattering jerked them back to reality and they all noticed that they were numb from the shock of the news.
Still, they ran to their friend and held him tightly.
It took their combined power to support him as he collapsed, silent tears moving along his cheeks.
"Stop playing with it!" Roy's voice echoed in the small room but was pointedly ignored by his friends.
"Aww!! C'mon man, we're your friends, aren't we allowed to touch it?"
"You're so materialistic Roy," Maes said, narrowing his eyes, "just because it is golden, you give it more value than you friends' needs."
"Wasn't it you, who was calculating how much it is worth?" Jean murmured, elbowing him.
"Because it a solid gold; after selling it, I can buy tons of new clothes to Elysia!" he turned to his friend with shining eyes, "Think about it Roy, instead of looking at a boring, gold statue, you can look at beautiful, dear Elysia with nice clothes!"
"The statue is so recognizable; we should cut it into pieces before selling it." Riza suggested, hiding her smile behind a carefully positioned hand.
"Yeah, three pieces would be all right," Jean said excited, disregarding Roy's panicked expression, "or maybe we should just cut it into several small pieces and sell them to jewellers; what do you think Roy?"
"That's enough!" Roy, literally, jumped and rescued the small statue from his laughing friends and put it carefully on the miniature table behind him, out of the reach of his friends.
"That expression was priceless!" Maes managed to say between laughs, "Why did the battery of my camera had to run out?!" he tried to whine but it was undistinguishable between his laughs.
"Maybe because you took photos of, what, every two minutes, of the night?" Riza pointed out.
"It was worth it!"
"In this case, again, cheers to Roy's success!" Jean ended the meaningless staring contest between his friends, raising his glass of wine, "Congratulations!"
After a new set of well done celebrations, Roy murmured silently, "Once was enough, really." with a large smile threatening to split his face into two and a slight blush to his cheeks.
"Was it because of the thanks I said to you guys?" he said after silence regained, "Next time I won't, if you keep on embarrassing me like this."
"You didn't mean it, man!"
"Hey! It was on the stage, in front of the whole world, you thanked us separately!"
"So, you say there will be a next time?"
Jean and Maes' nonsense talking stopped by Riza's question. Mischievous eyes turned to him but sensing the upcoming wave of jokes, Roy quickly answered "I hope so. I still have one year until it, right?" with a smirk. It was enough to silence the duo, and with their meals arrived, there was silence except the sound of four hungry people attacking food for some time around the table.
"You gave such a long list of names on the stage that I didn't know some of them." Jean said, sipping from his wine, half of his food gone within minutes. "All the people who helped you in your career?"
"Yeah, most of them." Roy answered, looking to his meal without seeing it. There was only one person he should have included but didn't have the heart to. He was in the theatre too; on the stage, out of thousands of people looking at him, Roy's eyes found him, thankfully he didn't manage to feel anything because of the surrealism of the moment.
Of course, ten minutes later, this time he went to the stage and Roy had to see him again; but his eyes only looked ahead of him.
Fortunately, Jean didn't continue his questioning; for it was going to a subject he didn't like to talk about at all. For the rest of the meal, four friends used the advantages of a private room in a restaurant by talking loudly, making jokes and laughing with all their might.
There was a knock on the door, after the waiter collected their empty dishes, gave them dessert menu and left the room; four heads raised from their separate menus, none of them able to choose which one to order yet.
Ready to express his request for more time to choose to the coming waiter, Maes' words died on the tip of his tongue when he saw who entered the room. He put the menu back to the table for his hands began to shake from a mix of anger, shock and more anger.
The easy-going mood of the table turned into thick-enough-to-cut-with-knife in less than a second.
The invader of the room – for he entered without an invitation – knew the reason for the change of atmosphere; after a nearly shy glance to the table and taking a deep breath he began to talk, he, too, wishing this reunion to be as short as possible.
"I don't wish to ruin your dinner or its enjoyable ambience." He ignored the snort coming from the table and continued with the same calm and collected voice, looking at only one person, "I want to congratulate you for the award you won today and all the successes leading to it." He inclined his head slightly and gave a small nod, along with a smile on his face, "Sorry for the disturbance, please enjoy your meal." With a small bow, the blond man turned around to left the room.
"As if we can enjoy it now." Jean's bitter voice said quietly, still loud enough for the recipient to hear.
"You should just say it on TV," Maes said, glaring to the back of the blond man, ignoring that he didn't give any reaction to them, "since we're used to learning news abou-"
"Edward," Roy interrupted, effectively silencing the room and stopping the man before he reached the door. With a strong voice, he continued, "don't you think an explanation is required, even if it is four years late?" He didn't reply to his congratulations, instead seizing his chance to talk about more important issues.
Edward slowly turned around, for the first time looking at the people around the table before the golden eyes settled on the onyx ones.
"I thought my reasons would be obvious by now."
"I still want to hear them from you."
Riza watched the exchange with interest. After the olive branch – as much as it could be – from Roy, Edward's reply was too cold and unemotional. Although Roy's resulting reply was in similar coldness, she could see the hurt lingering behind his calm facade. Still, with high probability, the hurt was from old memories instead of the blond man's current voice tone.
On the other hand, there was a problem with Edward; a glance showed that her other two friends noticed it as well, over their anger. His tone was cold, his expression blank and body language defensive. Okay, it might be because this was the first time they saw the blond man without his usual smile, easygoing behaviour and smart comments that they felt uncomfortable. However, if any of them learned anything about Edward over their friendship for two years; it would be that all his emotions would shine in his eyes. He was a great actor and could easily change his expression according to the situation but anyone who learned the way they should look into his eyes would see his true emotions; he was unable to hide them.
But right now, those eyes were guarded and they didn't give the smallest clue about his emotional state.
"You were begun to be known as my boyfriend instead of by your name."
"And this caused a problem because?"
"It wouldn't do any good to your career to be labelled from a relationship."
"Career?" Roy increased his voice, "Always career, only for career! Was all, all, of it was for career?!"
Instead of backing off from the outburst, Edward walked to the table, never taking his eyes off Roy until he reached it.
"Yes, at the beginning, you were the talented, good-looking actor who couldn't find his opportunity-of-the-lifetime yet, with friends in similar conditions." His tone was icy but his eyes were burning and Roy didn't backed down the smallest bit as Ed bend down on the table to get closer, "So, I decided to help you; you all had the potential and a small nudge to the right direction or appearance of a chance was enough to make you future stars of West City. But," he narrowed his eyes, "do you think I would spend two years of my life for such a thing if I didn't feel anything towards you?!"
"Though an ex-girlfriend was enough to end that 'two years'!"
"Oh, don't even mention that bitch!" Ed broke the eye contact in order to roll his eyes, "Nothing more than a waste of time!"
"At least you should have explained your reasons to me!"
"I couldn't possibly explain them before I broke up because you wouldn't listen!" His volume was increasing steadily, "I had planned it, I was going to talk to you a few weeks later, when you were willing to listen but" he was practically shouted, "I was in coma by that time!"
No one dared to make a sound as Edward straightened, taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly.
Years ago, when Roy was shooting a movie with Grumman, he had laughed about their lucky year with his friends. After two years, when he was trying to get over his painful emotions and tried to understand Edward's behaviour, he noticed something. Checking his three friends' careers, he encountered similar connections.
The movie that changed his life, that moved his career to West City, had a legendary director. However, in the light of Grumman, he had totally ignored the assistant director, a man called Alphonse Elric, the one and only brother of Edward Elric. Then, the worldwide known Xingese singer, that Jean got lots of advice from, was Edward's drinking buddy. The two brother owners of the record company turned out to be childhood acquaintances of Ed, again, who owned him a few favours. The list continued with the model that used to work with the cosmetics company Riza worked for two years, who was an ex-girlfriend of him or the director of the TV series that loved to shoot the Maes' scripts, who was a common friend of Elric brothers.
The list wasn't too long, not too short either, and it consisted of all the important contracts they signed or the important people they met that gave them inspiration or motivation. It was a list of all the chances they didn't lose in two years and all of them had only one common point, they were connected to Edward Elric.
They had once mentioned that Edward was living in a different world than theirs; this list was their individual steps towards his world.
When they noticed this list, although they had suspected a little, four of them understood the influence of Edward to their lives more clearly and understood his reasoning for his cruel breakup with Roy.
Though, it didn't mean they accepted it.
The female voice in Roy's head said in that moment, again, that he should have thanked Ed on the stage today because he helped him more than many of the names in his list.
"When I remembered my plans about that talk with you," Edward started with a quiet and calmer voice, effectively pulling everyone away from their thoughts, "it was already too late."
"But you came today."
"I was in the next room and heard your voices."
"Today is even later," Roy said after a pause, "but still you talked about it."
"Because you wanted me to."
"You could have easily declined it."
Edward stayed silent for some time, looking to his shoes; and everybody waited silently for him to continue. Their anger was pushed into background in order to learn the true reasons for his behaviours. When he raised his head, they noticed, with surprise, that his mask was shattering, along with the curtain that hid his emotions from his eyes.
"At...at that time," he started explaining quietly, still not looking at any of them, "I was trying to find a reason to live, to stand again and walk towards. I couldn't look at the past because they were all gone, I could never find my strength again through them. I had to look into my future." He raised his head and Roy held his breath seeing all the emotions in the golden orbs. "Roy, you were a part of my past. I had to let it go, because I knew I could never be the same again, and my life would never be like my past. I was happy at that time and if I stuck to it, I would never be able to move on." With a wistful smile, his eyes returned back to their staring to the ground again, he whispered softly, "I still have some things I couldn't let go and it hurts."
As Roy tried to regain his breath, all the emotions behind his golden eyes, pain, hope, anxiety, determination, passion, many others with an emptiness that threatens to destroy them all, he used this time to look at and observe Ed.
He had come directly from the ceremony, thus still wearing his suit. According to Roy, any kind of suit would look good on him and the one he was wearing now was no exception, if anything, Roy could have said that it was specially designed to make him look hotter, sexier and all the while more elegant and lithe. Like usual, his hair tie suited his clothes – today it was black – and his whole black-white suit, including his white gloves and shoes, made his eyes reveal themsel –
His observation stopped here...gloves? Why would he wear gloves?
Roy still remembered clearly the blond's distaste towards anything that covers his hands; scowling a little, he began to recall the events of the last four years in Edward's life.
After the car crash, he was in coma for nearly six months and after another additional month, the hospital released him. Though there were no interviews with him, it was a statement from his brother. Then for the next two years, there were nothing about Edward on media, other than occasional 'what happened to him?' news. And suddenly, last year, he returned back full force, with a superb movie that let him get to best actor award today.
There was a huge gap and whatever happened had changed Edward severely and permanently. And Roy wanted to learn it.
His return-back role was an interesting one, an android that was trying to fit into human life. Roy mused, why would he choose such a character after years of not acting? Maybe because it was different from the ones he used to play or he liked the script so much or –
"I was trying to find a reason to live, to stand again and walk towards."
Or because the character was so similar to him.
The main character of the movie, Fullmetal, was an android that had a metal arm and leg and was trying to fit into human society.
"...to stand again and walk towards"
He meant it literally.
"It was real." He whispered slowly, wishing he just guessed wrong. "Automail." But the look in Edward's eyes said it was very much true and Roy's insides froze in horror; he couldn't even imagine Edward's pain and struggle.
By the time his friends caught up with his train of thought, Edward was looking at him with a painful and bitter smile; the hollowness in his eyes somehow seemed larger and more threatening.
"I hoped, at least, you'd notice it after I left."
After a few moments of silence and awkward staring, Edward bid his goodbyes and good lucks and moved towards the door.
Still Roy's mind was occupied with one question: he let his past go but why did he come to here today?
Thankfully, the unknown female in his head pitied him and showed him another part of Edward's speech.
"I still have some things I couldn't let go and it hurts."
Roy hadn't chosen whether to kiss or punch that female in the head as he hurriedly ran after Edward and managed to hold his wrist before he reached the door.
"Am I included in the things you let go?" he asked softly, without waiting for the blond man to turn around.
"I try my hardest to forget you and our memories." He slowly turned around, his long hair swaying with the movement and those beautiful golden eyes locked into Roy's dark ones, "I haven't managed to yet."
"One last question," Roy said, taking a deep breath, only a small smile revealing his increasing nervousness and rising of the treacherous hope, "do you think I am famed enough, now, to bear this relationship?"
The golden orbs widened and all the remaining shadows of his guarded expression vanished in shock. Roy didn't have to wait long for an answer; Ed threw himself into his arms the moment he got over his shock and buried his head deep into his chest.
Roy held him tightly, trying to reassure himself that this moment was real for it felt more surreal than the evening when he got a worldwide known, prestigious award.
And he swore, whatever the reason, he wouldn't let him go this time.