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(Too many) Great Expectations

Chapter Text

 

 

Experience has taught Edward that when the first cup of coffee of the day tastes like a lethal mixture of sweaty armpits and dish soap (and there's not even a standard flavour, sometimes it reminds him of those godawful, oddly-flavoured beans they eat in Harry Potter -his coffee may taste like heaven or death depending on mere coincidence) the next waking hours of his life are basically doomed.

 

His day is gonna be terrible, he knows that for a fact, but just a fraction of a second before he hurls the damn coffee machine against the wall and marches out of the flat to hurl his rage towards the first human being daring enough to cross his path, the doorbell rings.

It's a slightly irksome sound that reveals immediately who's standing behind the door, and it just so happens to be not only one of Edward's favourite human beings to verbally abuse and trample on, but also the direct responsible for his crappy coffee and, by extension, his crappy day.

 

Edward takes a deep, satisfied breath and marches towards the door putting as much hostility as he manages in every single step.

He opens the door in what he hopes is an accurate physical manifestation of the profound annoyance that's running in his bloodstream and- let's be real.

 

Roy probably just thinks Edward looks like a grumpy, yellow cat.

 

Edward thinks Roy looks like a generic model, one of those perfect and perfectly forgettable faces you see on some fashion magazines' cover. The high-end ones, maybe, since today he's wearing what looks like a pretty expensive outfit that consists of a beige sweatshirt and black jeans, not slim enough to call him out on them but clearly designed to make bystanders check him out despite the simplicity of his clothes -and Ed knows that Roy thinks he looks good dressed like this, but bloody beige is not an acceptable colour unless you're nearing your eighties' and the most exciting thing in your life is trimming the bush outside your window.

 

Roy is handsome in a very classic way, is the thing, and while he's certainly very appealing to look at, there's also a lack of peculiarity in his features that doesn't justify the evident high esteem he holds for his entire person.

 

Roy is half Japanese, which means that he has pale complexion, black hair and very dark eyes.

But that's it.

 

 

The very same eyes are now focused on Edward's face, and he knows that Roy is still deciding whether it's worth it or not to burst into a laugh directly in his face.

 

He sagely decides not to.

 

“I can't decide who's shining brighter this morning, you or the sun?” he says instead, beginning this hopefully short conversation with unwanted sarcasm.

 

Fuck him.

 

“Fuck you”says Ed, not at all incoherently, since the majority of their exchanges involve a decent amount of insults and teasing (the latter on Roy's end, because he's very polite and almost always in a good mood, which according to Edward is a clear sign of duplicity and deceitfulness and craftiness and all sorts of untrustworthy types of intellect).

 

“Yeah, I'm good too, thanks. So, I was wondering...since it's a sunny day and you're usually eager to spend some time with me...” Roy continues, ignoring as per usual Ed's obvious unwillingness to chat with a smirk that screams narcissism, superiority complex and absolute certainty of success.

 

 

Jesus, having an admirer is tiring.

Well, he might as well take advantage of the situation and make Roy pay for his mistakes.

 

“You want me to go out for breakfast with you?”

Not that he needs any confirmation, Roy has been pretty persistent as of...always?

 

“Ideally” Roy answers, the tone of his voice and his warm gaze somehow implying that he's not completely sure of Ed's reply, but that it'll be fine either way (as it freakin should).

 

After developing a half-assed plan in his head, Ed decides that the best way to trick Roy is to plaster a small, slightly embarrassed-but-still-somewhat-grumpy smile on his face and pronounce the magic words every admirer (or, at least that's what is like in books and films) desperately wants to hear from the object of their affection:

“Do you want to come inside?”

The apartment. Inside the apartment. Please, don't -

 

Apparently Roy is so elegantly dumbfounded by his offer that he doesn't even realise what Edward was definitely not suggesting, which is a point in his favour, or maybe it is such a childish innuendo that even someone as flirty as Roy doesn't feel the need to acknowledge and act on it.

It could also mean that Roy is simply not witty enough to appreciate double meanings and is thus ill-suited for someone like Edward.

There, the balance of the universe has been restored.

 

Roy regains his composure in record-time, his face alight with that smile he makes whenever something particularly cute catches his attention, Ed knows this because he's often at the receiving end of it. Together with dogs of all breeds and sometimes a cat or two.

 

“....My, you are eager to spend some time with me, after all”

He smooths some imaginary wrinkle on his dull sweater before stepping inside, giving Ed another gentle smirk (only Roy does it, who knows) before quietly following him on the way to the kitchen ('the way' might be a bit deceiving, since it takes roughly three seconds) right towards his death.

 

Because Ed has decided to avenge his poor taste-buds by serving at least the volumetric equivalent of a bathtub full of coffee to Roy, which is some sort of equivalent exchange, since the malefic thingy is Roy's doing and he must pay for his sin.

 

Well, actually, it was a gift, and Ed had sort of liked it at the beginning, but it turns out that that fucking Italian coffee machine is really difficult to use and eight times out of ten the result tastes like something that might potentially kill you after hours of prolonged agony.

 

Therefore, scapegoat Roy.

 

“Let's pretend there's a red carpet right under your feet,” he says, just because it doesn't feel right to backstab Roy without giving him at least one good memory before kicking the bucket in Ed's kitchen.

 

Roy bows in a suspiciously smooth fashion -Ed knows that Roy's not an actor or anything similar, so the 'narcissistic personality disorder' theory is pretty plausible.

That or he's simply less clumsy than Edward.

 

He does, however, assess the sexiness of Edward's outfit (a bright red shirt and blue jeans, because he wears real colours, unlike somebody) in what must be an high score, judging by his less than subtle smirk and dark, heavy gaze.

 

After having taken his fill of Edward's morning attire he looks around the small room and decides to explore it a bit, mainly because Ed hasn't offered him anything to do or to eat.

Is not that Edward's a terrible host, he just thinks it pointless to offer Roy something edible. He will drink that fucking coffee, Ed's gonna make sure of that.

 

And despite the imbalance of attraction between the two of them, having Roy in his kitchen doesn't look like that big of a deal, aside from the vague resemblance to a soft-core porn film set with a culinary subplot, but Edward is pretty sure that Roy's not going to strip down in front of the stove.

He doesn't even look like a porn actor. He's just...Ed sees him and immediately generates sexy scenario in his mind -it's not about Roy being exceedingly provoking or anything, it's just his fucking face, okay?

Al makes him think of sunshine and wet kittens, Winry of oil and laughs, Roy of sex.

 

He looks like a generic model and a bit like a porn actor. He doesn't exactly generate the purest thoughts, let's be real.

 

Said missing star of the porn industry is now visibly upset, gesticulating towards -oh.

Right. He probably did zone out for a bit, all tangled up in his impure thoughts about the bastard he has invited in his house for a very specific reason.

 

“Yeah, exactly! That!” Ed says, quickly regaining his usually hot-headed demeanour and pointing at the latest source of sorrow in his life safely held in Roy's arms, “that thing is evil. I've never drank anything so disgusting in my whole life, and I've drank my own piss, so I'm not exactly the Queen of England”

 

Roy, brows comically furrowed, looks from Ed's finger to the moka pot, as if expecting it to turn into a beartrap or something, and when the transfiguration doesn't occur he glares at Edward.

 

“You know what is evil? Washing this with dish-soap. It's not a fork, you're not supposed to clean it with soap, I told you!”

 

Liar.

 

“Hold on a second, you didn't tell me absolutely anything! You gave me this thing like a week ago and you haven't mentioned anything about cleaning rituals or morning ablutions-”

 

“I gave you this and told specifically to rinse it with water, just water, I remember it! I explained you how to make a coffee and how to wash it, you just forgot it”

 

“Or maybe it's just that I usually don't listen to what you say”

 

Roy's eyeroll probably gets him in touch with some ancestral deity and restores his usual composure. That and the big, defeated sigh he lefts out -Ed has a long track record of similar exasperated sighs.

 

“Sit down, I'll wash this and I'll make you real coffee”

 

**

 

The coffee is kind of good, more than decent (“it'd be delicious if it wasn't for your incompetence. That's what happens when you don't listen to me, Ed””), but he doesn't feel like complimenting Roy too much.

 

He's got to deserve it.

 

“So” he says instead, sitting on the kitchen counter with the cup still in his hands, “what do you want? Don't tell me you just wanted to have breakfast together”

 

It might actually be the case, but Ed gives Roy the benefit of the doubt.

 

Wrong move, Roy doesn't have any dignity, apparently. But maybe the complete disregard for your own pride is something that just evaporates when you're old like Roy, Ed wouldn't know.

He's young.

 

“That, and I also wanted to ask you out for this evening. Just a drink, nothing too serious” he replies easily.

 

The thing is, Roy always asks him out with attitude of...not indifference, because he clearly wants Edward to say yes, but he makes it sound so...not necessary? Like a negative answer is not a big deal?

It's really weird, Edward hasn't figured it out just yet.

 

Which is one of the reasons why he thinks it's okay to say yes to other people (in this case 'other people' means 'one random guy from the library').

 

Keeping his mouth shut is one of those big mistakes he doesn't feel deep in his bones, and so he does.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The first time Roy becomes aware of Edward's existence is when he reads one of his short stories, one of those short novels that go around the internet and gather a decent amount of supporters. Roy it's not an expert on this type of thing, but he figures this fullmetal_alchemist, whatever that means, is sort of famous, at least on a microscopic level – a niche writer for niche people, perhaps.

 

The story is pretty interesting, although certainly no masterpiece, but intriguing enough to ignite a spark of creative motion in Roy's brain: long story short, it's some kind of metaphor for the connection between a man's past and nature, specifically a tree, and it's so unusual and raw, with so much potential despite its imperfection, that Roy keeps it in his mind for weeks and weeks before coming across a scenery that makes him think 'Ooh. That's the tree from the story!'

 

He posts the picture on his Instagram (routine, being a professional photographer), and also links it to the original post just because, without any specific intent; it turns out fullmetal_alchemist readers (let's be honest, 'fans' is too much a generous term) are really into Roy's work.

He receives links and request to take photos for fullmetal_alchemist's other stories, which, thank God, are equally interesting, so...he obliges -because an experienced photographer with some really cool and avant-garde but also hipster pictures under his belt is far more likely to gain a large following than some aspiring writer.

 

Simply put, Roy doesn't mean it to become something other than 'I took a picture that reminded me of a story a read and I decided to share it online because this is how I earn money and because I wanted random people to tell me how awesome I am', but somehow it does.

It becomes a bit more, slowly but surely.

 

This is the part were the flashback ends and present-Roy puts his arm around present-Ed's shoulders, concluding with the ever popular “and this is how we became Roy&Ed, or Ed&Roy. We're still deciding on the surname, we'll let you know when we come to an agreement”.

 

Except it's not true.

It's not even remotely close to something resembling truth.

 

**

 

The problem is that sometimes, Roy has realized, those big feelings you come to develop to someone aren't much more than some cumbersome burden to them.

**

fullmetal_alchemist contacts him after a few new pictures, thanking him for the thought and the amazing work, to which Roy replies in an equally admired tone, and said comment is the starting point of a chain of private messages -this back-and-forth goes on for a while, but besides displaying some solid knowledge of internet and social media etiquette, they also get to know each other a bit more.

Some basic details, like name and surname, to name a few.

 

Edward Elric.

 

Well, why not?

 

**

 

In real life fullmetal_alchemist is decidedly attractive, and also incredibly rude.

Roy had imagined some kind of vitriolic personality to match his writing style, considering that his side of their chat shows an impressive amount of creative swearing, but the accuracy of his prediction is almost shocking.

 

He's...really fucking rude.

 

Not in a snapping fingers, 'Garçon, bring me another glass of Chardonnay. Now.” way, no. Edward (unrelated, but his first name perfectly matches his hair colour, at least in Roy's mind) is not rude to strangers or people who offer some kind of service, but he has no problem whatsoever telling Roy to fuck off. Not only Roy, but basically everything that's in his proximity. Every fifteen seconds, more or less.

 

You sure you can drink three cups of coffee?”

Fuck off, I sure can”

Jesus fucking Christ, that was a really shitty thing to say”

...and at that point I told myself 'fuck, that dick is not gonna fucking stop me...'

 

Part of Roy wants to keep track of the number of fucks Edward says per sentence (or rather, the number of fucks he doesn't give), but the boy gives a twist to what would basically be a sailor's vomit by adding neologisms and figures of speech, so the outcome is more hilarious than annoying.

He reminds Roy a bit of Bukowski, without the omnipresent references to prostitutes and alcohol (“For fuck's sake, Bukowski?! Do I look like someone who writes about fucking whores and booze and then ends the chapter with some thoughtful reminder that life's a bitch? I mean, life's a bitch, but I'm not there yet. I'd rather stick to fantasy or sci-fic, thankyouverymuch.”)

 

But abnormally high propensity to express himself with a stream of insults aside, Edward is a pretty funny guy, with some really interesting insights into a number of topics, and genuinely one of the most enthralling tellers Roy's has ever met, which explains his career choice.

He's also...fascinating to watch, to say the least, with long blonde hair tied in a ponytail, slightly tanned skin, and amber eyes.

 

Handsome, though not in a jaw-dropping, Calvin Klein or Armani-billboard kind of way like Roy himself (so he's been told, which makes it a fact), rather the type of good looks that makes your eyes linger just a little bit longer than necessary -and the way he holds himself, the way he speaks and describes everything. That's the real deal.

 

It almost outshines the majestic clutter of colours he's wearing (bright red, a really hurtful shade of purple, black to soothe the eyes of the innocent beholders and some acid green just because) that is seriously threatening Roy's sight.

 

But...yeah. Roy likes him.

This might be the start of a beautiful friendship. All in all, Ed is really nice.

 

 

 

“You know” he points out, nonchalantly, “I'm glad you told me you were, like, 25 years older than me when we were chatting online, because if I hadn't known I'd have run the fuck out of here in two seconds flat. You do look a bit younger, though, so points for honesty. Could have tricked me.”

 

Again, rude.

 

**

After a little more than a year, some things have changed.

 

Roy and Ed are friends, which is great, but Roy would really appreciate an upgrade -and, okay, maybe a moka pot is not the greatest of gifts for starting a courtship, but it was so Ed, and Ed loves coffee, and Roy really likes Ed, so the result was predictable.

 

Roy is also old and should definitely get a hold of himself, but. There he is, obsessing over a much younger, potty-mouth aspiring writer who probably (Roy's 65% sure about this) doesn't reciprocate.

 

The thing is...laughs aside, Roy's a bit concerned.
Not to the point of not sleeping at night or spending whole days wondering how awful everything will eventually turn out to be, but he knows, on a rational level, that his situation is not particularly rosy.

 

They're friends, yes, they do get along, but what they share, what Roy feels for Ed is so very different to the way he cares for his other friends that there's no choice but to feel a bit scared.

 

Sometimes age is really just a number.