It was always funny to Eric that the first major award Vince won was for a three-minute appearance on the new James Cameron drama for HBO.
He only did it as a favor for the pilot episode, but it was enough for him to be recognized by the Academy. The two of them laughingly toasted with champagne over crepes prepared by Drama when the nominations came in. Neither of them hedged their bets that he would actually win. There was some pretty hefty competition in the category that year, between Matt Damon appearing on Glee and Leonardo DiCaprio making a cameo in this weird project on NBC. Still, a nomination was a nomination, and Vince felt honored that his three minutes of television time were worth noticing, even if he didn't really believe it himself.
Of course, that year wasn't just memorable because of the nomination and the win. It was the year that they finally figured out that they were more than friends had even privately acknowledged that they were very much in love with each other. It was only a few weeks before the Emmy nominations were announced that they had even told anyone else. Vince had very nervously sat Drama and Turtle down in his living room before explaining that things were changing and that they were together now. Their two closes friends had taken it mostly in stride, and a month later, were completely supportive. They had flirted with the idea of telling their mothers or even Ari and Shauna, but their plans weren't firm yet. It's only after breakfast, when they are alone in the den running over all the press Shauna and the network wanted him to do, that Vince even brings it up.
"We should probably tell Shauna now."
"What?" Eric asked distractedly. He was trying to make heads or tails of all the demands HBO was putting on Vince and then the secondary requests that Shauna had sent their way. There were a lot of people who wanted access to his boyfriend. "Why now? We've already got a lot going on, Vin. I can't really deal with Shauna and Ari freaking out right now."
Vince combed his fingers through his dark hair. It was neatly trimmed right now for the Nora Ephron romantic comedy he was filming with Natalie. He had to be at the studio in a few hours. Eric had a lot of work to do before then, and the last thing he needed was to figure out this huge decision with Vince in between phone calls with the Today Show and Entertainment Weekly. Vince knew that, but it didn't change how he felt. They had been hiding this for a long time, most of all from themselves. Now that he had finally come to terms with how he felt, he wanted the rest of the world to know. The tabloids had always said it would take one hell of a person to get Vince to settle down, and there wasn't anybody better for him than Eric.
"Yes, right now, E," he finally answered. "And I mean it, I want to talk to them." The urgency in his voice caused Eric to drop the call list to the floor. Vince reached for his hand next to him, brushing his thumb over his wrist absently while he talked. "They need to know before hand because I intend on taking you as my date. And I don't want to hear any objection or some stupid plan about setting up a date with a decoy. You are the one who told me to do the favor. You're the one who makes all of this possible day after day. I am not going there without you by my side. Besides, you know that I always get bored during those things. Who else is going to make jokes with me?"
Eric softened at Vince's insistence. There were a lot of reasons that this was a bad idea, but those big blue eyes voided all of them. "Okay," he agreed easily before leaning in to kiss Vince. "And if I didn't say it enough earlier, Vin, congratulations. I am really proud of you. This is huge. I know you don't actually think you'll win but I do."
"Well, if you have faith in me, E, then I know I'm a lock," he declared boldly.
They managed to get through press rounds that day before setting up an evening meeting posed as a congratulatory dinner with Vince's agent and publicist. The guys offered to go along for support, but Vince and Eric very discreetly asked Ari and Shauna to meet them without their assistants or other keepers at their side. They avoided the usual paparazzi hotspots and elected for a quiet diner in the Valley they found when they first started dating. No one seemed to recognize him there, and if they did, they had enough discretion to never ask questions or bother him.
"What am I doing in the fucking Valley?" Ari nearly screamed at Eric when he arrived. Vince popped up from the booth beside his boyfriend, holding out his fist for the agent to bump. That instantly calmed the agent as he slipped into his cool guise as the Hollywood Power Player. "Vinny, baby, congratulations! Did you get the basket my new assistant sent over? Lloyd actually picked it out. He said that you would love it. I wasn't so sure since it had all that lotion, but he insisted."
"It was great, Ari, thanks," Vince told him just as Shauna arrived. "It was almost as nice as that car that my publicist here had sent over. Shauna, seriously, a Bentley? You've out done yourself."
"Nothing you haven't earned, honey," she gushed as they exchanged kisses. She bussed Eric on the cheek next before sliding into the booth across from them. "Hi, Eric. I hope we can make this quick. One of my kids has a dance recital or something. Christy just told me to be at the school in an hour."
Vince looked to Eric for direction, but the manager just shrugged as if to say, this is your thing, you take the lead. "Alright, you want it short," Vince pondered aloud. "Well, let's see. I was nominated for an Emmy today. E told me the ceremony is in September. I'd like to wear Oscar if you think we can get him, Shauna. Ari, try to lock down that drama piece with Anne within the week. E said this Emmy will give me some credibility since the leeked dailies from this rom com are doing so well. Oh, and E and I are together. So, yeah, he'll be going with me to the Emmys."
Shauna dropped her cell phone with a loud thud. She had been making notes in her schedule when Vince made the announcement. "The fuck? Vincent..."
"Vince," Ari warned.
Eric could sense what was coming before it happened. He wasn't about to let anyone ruin this for Vince, not when they were finally happy and had something to celebrate. This shouldn't be a problem. E wouldn't let it be. "Nope, Ari, you can just stop now," Eric countered. "You heard Vince loud and clear. We are together. No fit you throw, no threats you make, nothing you can do is going to change that. At this point, you are either with us or you're not. We can find another agent or another publicist. Being gay in Hollywood isn't the taboo it was a few years ago."
"Yeah, Ari, it's even legal to get married in New York now," Vince reminded him. The actor looked pointedly at Eric and blushed. "Not that we're thinking about that..."
"Yet," E finished for him with a smile. "So, we will give you a day to think about how you want to handle this. Your answer will help us decide if you are going to stay on the team. The only people who know right now are Turtle and Drama. We're telling our mothers tomorrow. You have until the end of the week before I start telling the rest of the world."
"Vincent, honey," Shauna tried.
Eric dropped his napkin on his plate and shook his head. "You talk to me about this, Shauna, not Vince. This isn't just business. This is our fucking life. This is just about you protecting Vince's career. Well, I could give a fuck about his career," Eric told them both. This is about me needing to make sure he is okay - that we are okay. It's about protecting him."
"That's bullshit, E, and you know it," Ari laughed humorlessly. "You care about his career just as much as we do. You built your entire life around Vince."
"You're right, Ari, I built my entire life around Vince," E shook his head. "A life we are living together, if you hadn't noticed. I won't let anyone fuck that up for him, even me. I could be greedy right now. I know that this isn't the best thing for his career, but I don't give a damn. I care about him, about his heart. When you all quit caring what happens, I am still going to be there."
"Twenty-four hours, Ari," Vince repeated one more time before getting up from the table and leaving the restaurant. Eric looked at the two after Vince had left. He could only shake his head as he dropped a few large bills on the table and follow after his boyfriend.
The next day and for the next three months after that, Eric and Vince worked closely with Ari and Shauna to control things. The two of them came out of the closet quietly, doing a few select interviews and posed for pictures together exactly once. The only big change in their day-to-day life was the added bodyguard Eric hired when the paparazzi started getting a little too close. Before they knew it, September had arrived, and the day of the Emmys was upon them.
Drama and Turtle spend the night the day before, waking up early with the guys to play a round of golf as per their usual award show tradition. Drama makes them breakfast afterward, and they just laugh over pancakes and coffee like it's no big deal. Awhile later, the team of stylists arrive to get the guys ready. It's Armani and D&G for Turtle and Drama. Vince got the requested Oscar, and Calvin Klein sent a suit over for E personally. They look slick, and Turtle is just sure he is going to get lucky. Drama practices posing in the hallway mirror for a half-hour before the limo comes. Vince tries to calm his pre-show jitters, sitting calmly next to a silent but nervous Eric on the sofa.
The cameras are bright and hungry for the new power couple when they walk the red carpet. E still isn't comfortable with the attention, but this isn't about him. He isn't Vince's manager tonight. He is his boyfriend, there to just support his guy on what could be a very good night for both of them. Soon enough, they find their seats inside, tucked between the cast from the new JJ Abrams spy thriller and a few of the leads from Community.
Later on, when they crawl into bed way too late, the Emmy tucked between them on very expensive Egyptian cotton sheets, Eric remembers how Vince thanked him first and the way that Drama teared up with pride and the sound of their mothers' voices on the other end of the line when they called them backstage. That's what Vince they'll take away from tonight. There will be headlines tomorrow, a snapshot of them kissing before Vince took the stage. People will be interested in whats going on in their lives because that's the nature of the beast. For now, Vince doesn't seem to care much. He kisses Eric sleepily on the side of the head before snuggling beneath the down comforter.
"It's all about the EGOT, E. One down, three to go. Think I can do it?"
Eric smiled affectionately at the man that he loved. "I think you can do anything."