The Colonel wasted no time at all in getting Ed signed up for the State Alchemists' Exam. They'd barely had two days to become acquainted with East City when the news of their departure for Central was dropped. They would be leaving; tomorrow; an hour before dawn; with Colonel. Ed knew it was coming and still punched a wall in frustration. Al just hoped the early departure time would make Ed sleep through most of the ride.

In the morning when they arrived at the station, Al was pleasantly surprised to see that Lieutenant Hawkeye was accompanying them. He hadn't been around her or the colonel for very long, but got the impression she kept him in check. Maybe she could help with an unruly Ed as well. She greeted both boys by their first names while Ed and the colonel glared at each other, both rubbing sleepy eyes. Doing his best to look as exasperated as he felt, he pushed on Ed's shoulder a little as Lt. Hawkeye fell in step behind Colonel.

Once on the train, both Ed and the Colonel claimed the window seats at the same time. Flopping down heavily, they glared at each other then out the window. Al watched as Hawkeye looked from one to the other, then apparently deciding it was safe, went off to fetch some coffee and hot chocolate. Al settled in beside Ed and watched as both glares melted into sleeping faces. When they both let out simultaneous snores Al couldn't help but giggle a little to himself.

As Hawkeye made her way back, Al stood and took the drink tray from her. When she saw her two now-sleeping companions, she sighed and smiled. Pulling a cord above their seats summoned a rail-worker who took away the drinks; to be kept warm mind you; and returned with two thin traveling blankets. Apologizing for the lack of pillows, he bustled away just as quick as he'd come when she waved him. Al watched the proceedings quietly, storing exactly what she did for later reference. He and Ed would be traveling a lot after all. They were on their way in due time and as the station disappeared behind them Al began to be a little uncomfortable.

At this early hour everything in the world seemed to be asleep. These mornings were bad enough without someone else sharing it silently with him. She just sat there. She didn't read or talk, but just sat, her eyes constantly scanning the interior of the train. When half an hour had passed in this fashion Al could stand it no longer.

"Lt. Hawkeye, why are you coming with us for brother's exam?"

At his question her eyes immediately stopped their scanning and zeroed in on him. Al quailed inwardly as the eyes seemed to pierce through him. A few seconds passed as she studied him before those eyes relented and she smiled.

"Someone has to look after the colonel." As this was said she patted said man's knee.

"But can't the colonel look after himself?"

"I guard him and handle the little things." Was her flat response. He decided to change that topic.

"Do you like working in East City?"

"It is limited, though my family is there."

"Oh, what is your family like?"

"They are all military."

"Oh" At this his questions were stopped and he shifted unconsciously as her eyes stared through him. His squirming seemed to catch something, though, and she seemed to soften.

"Alphonse, would you like to tell me about your family?"

It seemed she had asked the right thing as he reached into his armor and pulled out a little album of pictures. For the next two hours he told her all about his mom, dad, granny Pinako, Winry, Den and her automail paw, Edward, Izumi, Sig and of course his real body. She nodded in all of the appropriate places, asking gentle questions where she thought he would appreciate. About Winry and Ed they laughed and she squeezed his gauntlet when he spoke of his mother. Every now and then Ed would kick out at something or the Colonel would let his hands wander. After retrieving the photo album for the third time and shoving the colonel off for the fifth, they decided together to sit on the same side. So Al placed Ed in her spot, (he barely whimpered at being moved), while Lt. retrieved some cards for her and Al. They played quietly the rest of the way to Central. As the breaks squealed pulling into the station their sleeping companions began to stir.

"Hey, what the hell?! Al, why am I next to this freak?!"

"Huh? Edward?! No wonder I have a crick in my neck sleeping on a leprechaun."


"Calm down, I didn't say all that."

"Brother, come on, we're here."

"Hawkeye, why do you always abandon me on the train?"

"I was not abandoning you, sir. I was sitting across from you."

"I know, but couldn't you let me sleep on your shoulder?"


"We're coming, sheesh. Just because he has to take 3 steps to our 1 because of his short, little ---"


"Brother! Come on!"

"Get moving, sir."

Somehow with their newfound alliance Lieutenant Hawkeye and Alphonse managed to hustle their charges off the train platform.