It was hot outside, and though he couldn't feel it, the sweat pooling in Ed's collarbone was enough to prove it. They were spending their second night out in the fields, investigating strange lights in some backwater town to the south. Al was supposed to be watching the sky, but instead found his gaze drawn to his brother. Ed shifted in his sleep. At first, he blamed the heat, but as Ed began to mumble incoherently he caught a word that changed that opinion. Winry. Ed had never spoken a word of being lonely or missing being home and neither had he out of respect. Now, though, with the entire spring passing without once going home, Al had had enough. It was bad enough that he was lonely, but to have to listen to Ed two nights in a row dreaming of home was it.
He had a plan formulated in all of ten minutes. The obvious thing to do was break Ed's automail, but he decided against that, not wanting to cause his brother any pain. Instead he just decided to help out the gumming up process some. The mysterious lights flashed in the air unnoticed as Al watched Ed and waited for his moment. It came as a light thunder rolled across the sky as Ed rolled over. Al "helped" him roll, right off the bedding and into the dirt. He would be furious when he woke up, but Al didn't plan on being there. He sifted some of the dirt and leaves through his gauntlets and onto Ed's automail leg, flexing the ankle slightly to help it work in there.
As he dusted off his hands, a little bit of guilt wormed through his thoughts, but he was distracted by a flash of light off in the distance. Looking down to check on Ed, he decided not to wake him and instead ran off in the direction he saw. Thunder rolled over head as he ran through the sparse field. He worried a little about what would happen to Ed if he was left out in the rain, but brushed it off. It is better for brother to sleep through a light drizzle than go running around in it. Half a mile into his run he slowed as the hills began. Being very careful, he used the occasional flashes of heat lightning to light his way as he climbed up to where he saw the flashes. As he pulled himself over a small crest he was momentarily blinded as the lights flashed away. Taking a moment to let his senses get re-acclimated he began investigating. Within a moment or two, he realized what the flashes were and broke off a small piece of the rocks to show brother.
By the time he got back to camp the sun was rising and Ed was sitting up blearily rubbing his eyes. Al approached warily, hoping to surprise Ed.
"Good morning, Brother!"
"Al! Where did you go?! And why am I in the dirt?!"
"I figured out what the flashes were."
"Without me?! You were supposed to wake me up!?"
"I thought you needed your sleep. Do you want to know what it was or not?"
"Yeah, I guess. If I let you give the colonel my report he'll make fun of me for it."
"The heat lightening was reflecting off some shiny rocks left outside of an abandoned mine."
"Aw, geez. Stupid hicks. Well, I guess we can head back to the inn now. I need to shower after sleeping in the dirt."
Ed gave Al a suspicious glance as they were packing up, but let it go. They hiked the two miles back to the hick town. The people were already up and waving from their fields as they passed, but Ed ignored their friendliness, letting Al do the waving for him. Al was used to this kind of treatment and just continued his waving, even humming a little as they got closer. He ignored Ed's glares as he fished an apple out of their pack to feed to a fat sow resting in the middle of the old dirt road to town. When they finally reached the inn, Ed only paused long enough to glare at everyone eating breakfast before stomping his way up to the buildings only shower. Al followed in his wake, apologizing to the inn-keeper and ordering his brother's breakfast. He chose a seat by a window, hoping the hot shower, fresh coffee, and cool breeze would put Ed in a better mood.
Ten minutes later, as he watched the steam float from Ed's coffee cup, his brother came clunking down the stairs. Al watched with a feeling of success as Ed stumbled, his ankle locking up and refusing to cooperate. His face was red as he finally reached the table and fell into the chair. He drained half of his coffee cup before calling over the innkeeper and requesting a glass of ice water. When the innkeeper told him they didn't have ice, he scowled at the poor man until he scurried away.
"What's wrong, Brother?" Alphonse asked in what he hoped was his sweetest voice.
"My stupid ankle must have gotten gunk in it when I slept in the dirt. I can hardly bend it. We have to go home."
Al agreed and left to go exchange their train tickets. For a brief second he considered calling Granny and telling her they were coming, but decided that would be too obvious. Passing by the window on his way to the station, he noticed Ed had a small smile on his face in between giant bites of warm eggs. Al giggled to himself and resumed his humming as he walked.