Ed stared bleakly down at the many slides and switches laid in front of him. He had finished his homework an hour ago, so now all he could do was sit in the small booth and watch his classmates argue with the Drama teacher below him. ‘Theater People’ He thought with an eye-roll, ‘Roy’s real lucky I’m such an upstanding boyfriend for helping him like this.’
“Edward, honey, turn on the presets for scene five!” Mrs. Lamine, a Drama teacher very befitting of the title, called from the stage as she directed Ed’s aforementioned boyfriend and a few other students to stand over little strips of colored tape.
Ed gave a quick thumbs-up and pressed one of the preset buttons, and all lights but for some red and blue lights on-stage dimmed or turned completely off (he had watched in trepidation as two techies hung the gel-covered lamps from bars over the stage on a rickety-at-best scaffolding a week ago).
The board had been easy to learn, compared to the “computer stuff” (as Roy dubbed it) Ed worked on for fun. His only real qualm with his current situation was just about everything else about participating in a high school theater production when he could be doing just about anything else. Stupid Colin and his broken legs, and the wheelchair non-accessible light booth. Stupid Roy and Al, too, for their dumb influence over Ed’s emotions. And, most of all, stupid theater for having a production in a week and not enough funding to hire a booth guy.
With a sigh, Ed leaned back in his chair and watched Val Smith screw up her lines for the umpteenth time that hour.
Of everything he hated about staying until seven at school every day for an extracurricular he couldn’t care less about, the sheer nosiness of the actresses (especially Val fucking Smith) got to Ed the most.
They were running a few scenes with just the house lights on for the moment, so Ed had nothing to do until Roy and Jean managed to remember their swordfight choreography the whole way through (and it wasn’t like Ed didn’t absolutely love watching Roy accidentally hit Jean in the shins with the prop lance, but at this point they would actually have battle wounds when they weren’t even really supposed to touch each other!). Suddenly, Ed saw two of his classmates, Christy and Paninya, approach the light booth in his periphery. He hadn’t heard the balcony door creak open as it usually did, so their sudden appearance took him by surprise. Their all-too innocent expressions didn’t a thing to soothe Ed’s irritation, either.
“Hey, Ed.” Paninya greeted quietly as they slid into the booth and crouched next to him, filling up the little free space he had.
“What’s up?” Ed asked nonchalantly. He knew from their smiles that they weren’t just up here to ask after his well-being.
“So… You and Roy are an item.” Christy stated.
Ed blinked, taken off- guard. Sure he wasn’t exactly private about his relationship with Roy, but none of the theater girls had previously so much as acknowledged it (Ed had his suspicions it was because they quietly resented Ed for snagging their dream boy away from them). He slowly said, “Yeah…. So what?”
Paninya shook her head quickly, “No, we don’t care or anything. We think you two are really good together! We were just curious about something. Actually, we have a bet, you see.” The scheming smile was back.
‘Oh God,’ Ed thought.
Christy asked through a little giggle, “Who tops?”
“You’re not really still salty about running lights, are you?” Roy asked incredulously. True, it had been a week, but Ed was nothing if not persistent. Plus, he had one more whole week of this ordeal, and if he had to deal, so could Roy. However, Ed hadn’t quite planned on his “salt” affecting his current situation, which saw him straddling Roy in the dark-haired boy’s beanbag chair, an amused smirk cast upon his bright red blush.
Ed scowled through his flushed cheeks, removing his hands from where they had been previously removing Roy’s shirt, “Is now really the time?”
“You’ve never pouted so much during a thrall of passion; I had to ask.”
Ed groaned, “Don’t call it a thrall of passion, ya dork! I was just reminded of stupid Christy and Paninya and their dumb bet.”
Roy laughed loudly, “Oh geez, of all the times!”
“Yeah I know, right?” Ed scowled, yelping a bit when Roy ran his hand lightly up his waist.
“Well, for what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re helping out. I like getting to see you after school.”
Ed’s blush could have melted ice, “Shut up and continue doing what you were doing, you ass.” Roy laughed, yet compiled all the same.
That Thursday night, it was Al’s turn to bear witness to Ed’s tirades (not that he hadn’t had an earful already). It was the night before opening night, and they had just come back home from the final dress rehearsal, Al still smeared in stage makeup, and Ed wearing a scowl to beat all other scowls.
“Fuck the stupid theater!” He growled, throwing his backpack onto the couch as Al pulled out a Tupperware of leftover dinner with the note ‘Left this out for you boys to eat after rehearsals. Dad and I won’t be home until tomorrow morning. Don’t get hurt, we don’t want you two to turn up at work. <3 – Mom’
“Mom and Dad left out some food, Brother. Let’s eat.”
Ed nodded, “Did Mom leave a crappy ER joke?”
Al shrugged, “It’s more of a warning this time. Hurry up and sit, I’ll toss the food in the mic for a sec.” He did so, keeping his back to Ed at the kitchen table as the food spun around cooking, “Ya know, I’m really glad you’re doing this for us. I know you’d rather be doing other stuff.”
Ed huffed, “What? How could you tell?”
“I really hope that was sarcasm, Brother.” Al turned to see Ed, legs kicked up on the table scrunching up the decorative table cloth their mom insisted on laying out to “accent the fruit bowl”.
“Do you know me, Al? I’m made of sarcasm. And anyway, it’s not a huge problem, I’m sure Roy would have just bugged me until I gave in anyway. I just don’t see how you can stand being around those people for so many hours every day!”
Al rolled his eyes over the mild jab at his friends, “I mean, you chose to date a theater guy, so I don’t know what you can really say about that.”
“But it’s Roy.”
“Yes, exactly my point. The biggest personality in our theater class: Roy Mustang.”
“What’re you getting at?” Ed asked.
“Well,” Al responded, “I’m just saying that if you can handle Roy every day and choose to date him, then you can deal with Val Smith for a few hours.”
“But it’s different! Roy’s cute when he’s being dramatic. Val makes me want to punch something.”
Al shook his head, “You confuse me, Brother.” The microwave beeped, and Al served up the warm food. Ed took a large bite of his pasta.
“You nervous about the show, Al?” He asked around the food in his mouth, changing pace.
Al blinked, “A bit, but I’ve got a pretty minor role. I’m more nervous that our poor excuse of a tech class will screw up a set or not get the right stuff onstage between scenes or something like that and throw off the flow of the performance.” Al paused to eat some food before continuing, “What about you?”
Ed cocked a brow, “You know I don’t a fuck about this play.”
“But you’ve got a pretty important job. If you mess up a light cue, everyone will freak out and mess up.”
“So? I won’t fuck it up.” Ed shrugged.
“You’re not even a bit nervous for Roy? You don’t give a fuck about the play, but you do give a fuck about him.” Ed paused, wishing Al didn’t know his thought process so well.
“Well… I’m worried that Roy’ll be a big drama queen about wanting me to do well if that’s what you mean. You know how he is.”
“But I thought you said he was cute when he was dramatic.” Al giggled at Ed’s blush.
“Not when he’s being dramatic over ME!”
Al burst into real laughter over his brother’s flustered face, “He’s probably gonna be more nervous about himself messing up than you, in all honesty.”
“But he’s, like, the best actor y’all have (no offense)! He’s got nothing to worry about.” Ed defended. In all honesty, it hadn’t crossed Ed’s mind that Roy may doubt himself onstage. Sure, he had some self-confidence issues (it took Ed ages to convince Roy to come out to his friends- all part of the theater- about their relationship), but he seemed so… relaxed when he acted! Ed just assumed he’d be less unsure in himself in that area.
Al sighed, “He is the best- that’s why he gets super anxious backstage. He’s got a reputation to uphold. It only happens right before he has to go on, so I’m not surprised you haven’t noticed, but he gets all freaked out and panicky. Almost threw up once.”
“Ew, Al, I’m eating!” Ed groaned, squeamish with puke in conversation, “So what you’re saying is that if I mess up, it’ll get to Roy’s head and he’ll have a panic attack?”
“I didn’t say that! God, Ed.”
“Well you don’t have to, because I won’t mess up and Roy will be great, and you’ll kill it, and this play will be a hit. I didn’t waste two weeks on this damn thing to fail my one job opening night.”
Ed stood with that comment, scraping his leftover food into the garbage (Al winced at the waste) and taking his leave to go finish his homework with a quick “Goodnight” to Al. The younger Elric brother to the last bite of his dinner with a smug look on his face, having new confidence in Ed’s secret enjoyment of the theater. All he had to do now was get through opening night, and the rest would be a breeze.
At last, it was opening day, and Ed could see the light at the end of the theater-shaped tunnel. Only today and the weekend to go before he’d have his afternoons back and Roy would be indebted to him interminably. That is, Roy would be indebted to him once he got out of whatever dumb slump he’d been in since that morning. He’d been distracted during all of the classes they shared, and not just his usual “too cool to take notes” kind of distracted! Ed had his suspicions it was because of the play, considering what Al had told him last night.
At lunch, Ed and his friends ate in their usual stomping grounds- the chemistry teacher’s classroom. He’d let them eat there on the conditions that they clean up after themselves and help set up for his labs after they eat. He entered the room, surprised to find his brother and Roy there, chatting with James Slayton (a classmate of Al’s who liked to hang around Ed’s group). It wasn’t unheard of to find either boy in the chem room with Ed, he had assumed they would be eating with their theater friends before the big show.
“I didn’t expect you guys to be here.” Ed said when Roy and Al noticed him set down his backpack and lunch tray at his usual desk, “Not hanging out with the cast?”
Roy shook his head vigorously, “They wanted to run lines for the first act while we ate. If I have to hear that script before tonight, I’ll scream.”
“I tagged along.” Al shrugged, turning back to James.
Roy sat at the desk in front of Ed, turning his body around so that he faced his boyfriend, his chin rested on his folded arms at the end of Ed’s desk. Ed poked him on the nose with his plastic spoon, “You tired?”
“I’ll have you know I slept wonderfully last night… with the help of Melatonin. I just want this show to be over with.”
Ed blinked, “I thought you loved acting.”
“I do! It’s just… opening a show is always nerve-wracking. The first show can really set morale for the rest, so it’s gotta be good. And some actors, not me, of course-”
“Oh, of course.” Ed agreed wryly, receiving an exasperated look from the other.
“-some actors just get progressively worse and worse if they start out making mistakes. It’s a mental thing, ya know? Everyone wants the show to go smoothly, but nobody trusts the other actors to take it seriously and try their best!” Roy sighed.
Ed grinned a bit at his expense, taking the opportunity to run his fingers in Roy’s hair with the hand not holding his fork. Russel and Rose entered the room around this time, immediately making gagging noises at Ed’s show of affection. He put his fork down to flip the duo off before turning back to Roy, who looked like he was trying not to laugh in favor of being dramatic and sad. “You’ll fucking rock it, Roy. You know that. Besides, how can this thing fail if I’m involved? Like I told Al, I didn’t waste two weeks of my life to let my efforts crash and burn. Plus, you get to beat the shit out of Jean with a fake sword! You’re forgetting your blessings here, man.”
“That’s the spirit,” Roy laughed, “Can I snag a fry?”
Ed consented said snag, wondering aloud, “Did you not get your own food?”
Roy shook his head, now lifted from his arms, “I’d throw it all up.”
Ed put down his own fry, “You and Al need to stop it with the puke-talk!” He could hear Al laugh behind him as he exited the classroom with James for more food, Ed presumed.
Roy was going to respond, when Val poked her head into the room, obviously looking for him, “Roy! We’ve been looking all over for you, we need to run lines for scene six and find Al! Meet us onstage in five.” She flipped her hair back and strode back into the hall.
Ed noticed Roy instantly slump back down and couldn’t stop the angry, “Fucking bitch,” from leaving his mouth.
Roy shook his head, “Only on production week. Usually, Val’s sweet.” He moved to stand, looking confused when Ed did as well.
“No, wait a moment!” Ignoring his friends’ joking comments about PDA, Ed pulled Roy into a hug, murmuring, “Don’t let yourself get too worked up, yeah? I’ll see you after school.”
He could practically feel Roy’s smile as the boyfriend in question gave Ed a reciprocating squeeze and stepped back, “See you then.”
He turned with a wave and left for the theater, and Ed sat back in his seat.
“You two are disgusting,” Russel commented. Ed just grinned at him.
As Ed predicted, Roy killed it onstage. Jean probably had a few new welts from that sword, but the scene looked great so he’d let it slide. As a matter of fact, the only person who majorly messed up was Val Smith (which had Ed mentally cheering, unabashed at his own malice. He just really fucking hated Val). Back in the changing rooms, Ed found his boyfriend hugging a few of the actresses in celebration of a well-done opening show, face red from exertion and makeup wipes.
“What did I fucking tell you, Roy Mustang?” Ed asked, making Roy look up. The girls (Christie and Paninya, Ed noticed with a grimace) collectively grinned and pushed Roy out of their arms to Ed, who caught him before they both crashed to the ground. Roy’s laugh was contagious as he hugged Ed tightly, and the blonde found himself chuckling along with him.
The quick (and rather violent, in Ed’s humble opinion) kiss was a surprise, and Ed was still reeling a bit as Roy raved, “Ed, it went so well! You did great!” above the ‘Oooooo’s sent their way by Al and Jean (who was, in fact, holding a small ice pack to his waist).
Ed blushed a bit at the compliment, “Hey, I told you I wouldn’t let my wasted afternoons be for nothing. Besides, tonight was pretty fun, at least. Not saying the rehearsals were at all, though.”
That seemed to be the right response, because Roy totally lit up, obviously glad that Ed had had some fun in the subject he adored. Then, however, a smirk blanketed his glee, “So you’d help with the next show too?”
“What? I NEVER said that! You must be diluted or something!” Ed fussed over Roy’s laugh.
But as they left each other’s holds for Roy to finish changing back into his normal clothing Ed realized, deep down, that he would most likely end up helping his boyfriend if he asked. Because, as much as he hated theater, he kind of fucking loved Roy Mustang.