Author's Note: This fic is set sometime after the manga Chapter 44, some night when they're in that hotel they frequent (you don't necessarily need to have read that chapter to understand this). Basically, it's a roundabout story that you might not be able to follow logically, about being alone at night (hence the title, wow!). It's mentioned a couple times by various people how Al is alone all night, but nobody in the manga or anime ever seems to do much about it. Thus, my remedy. Oh, and I'm not sure whether they have cassette tapes in Amestris or not.
I don't... I don't want to be alone at night anymore...
Ed lay, silent and still, on his bed in the hotel room. His eyes were closed, but he was not asleep. Over and over, like a stuck cassette tape, the words his brother had said echoed through his mind.
I don't want to be alone at night anymore...
He tried to imagine what it must be like to sit, night after night, completely alone. Al's only companions in the dead of night were his thoughts, and Ed could only imagine how lonely that could easily get. If he was forced to sit around for ten hours straight with nothing to do, he was sure he would go crazy – both from the sheer boredom of it all and from the more haunting turns his thoughts would most likely take him. It surely must be the same for Al. Sure, they had their differences (quite glaring at times), but they were brothers after all. They could tell what the other one was thinking, more often than not, because usually they were thinking the same thing.
Ed had been able to read his little brother's thoughts in his eyes when they were children. Perhaps that was because Al's silver eyes were so large and expressive. But even now, when Al's body was an expressionless suit of armor, Ed could tell what Al was thinking. He could read every shifting of that clanking body, interpret every subtle change in the eyes that glowed red from the helmet. He could tell when Al was smiling, or frowning, or laughing, or crying inside; he supposed the same was true for Al. They had been together their whole lives, and surely Al had become adept at reading Ed's emotions. That was what had made one of their recent conversations so hard.
I don't want to be alone at night anymore, Brother...
They had been discussing whether or not the thing they had created was actually their mother, and had concluded that it was not. Al had covered the face of his helmet with both hands and cried out, "Thank you, Brother! I...I didn't kill Mom!" In that moment, Ed had almost been able to see tears leaking out from between Al's fingers.
Their conversation had turned to whether they should continue searching for a way to bring back their bodies, or whether they should simply give it all up and be content with the bodies they had. Al had said he didn't want other people to be involved, if it meant they had to die because of it. But then came the statement...
I don't...want to be alone at night anymore...
Al's glowing eyes had pierced right through him, begging him to do something to stop his loneliness and pain. Al would never have asked such a thing of him with words, and would deny he had ever done so if Ed confronted him, but Ed knew his brother too well. He could see past every line of defense, every brave suit of armor Al had erected for himself, and he could see the timid fourteen-year-old his brother truly was.
Ed's thoughts merged with memories of when they were much younger, and before he knew it he was drifting into a light sleep.
Creeeeeaaaaak. Ed opened one eye blearily, looking across the room to the door. A small silhouette was fruitlessly attempting to open the bedroom door without making any sound. But that door had always had squeaky hinges; they had probably never been oiled.
"Al?" Ed half-whispered, half-groaned as he sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Whatsa matter?"
The silhouette froze in the doorway, still clutching the doorknob but looking back at Ed. "Brother..." he whimpered.
Ed yawned widely, and when he looked again, he saw Al standing by his bed. On this side of the room, the moonlight shone in from the window onto his face. It might just have been the silver light of the moon, but he looked pale and small, his wide eyes quivering with fear. Ed began to feel more awake. "Bad dream?" he asked.
Al nodded. "I was gonna go get Mom," he whispered.
"Don't need to wake her up," Ed muttered, scooting over to the side of his bed that was next to the wall. He pulled back the bedcovers invitingly, and Al immediately hopped in. Ed noticed he was clutching his old stuffed cat, the one with the chewed-up ear, the one he had had ever since he was a toddler. It must have been an especially bad nightmare if Al had gone for his cat.
Al snuggled down under the blankets so only his eyes showed, and Ed lay back down beside him. "Wanna talk 'bout it?" he mumbled softly into his brother's ear.
Al shook his head frantically, his eyes widening; Ed mentally punched himself for asking such a dumb question. Al was scared out of his wits and didn't need to be reminded of his dream anymore. "It's okay," Ed whispered, putting an arm around Al and squeezing the other one under Al's body. "I'm here. You're safe."
Al continued to tremble with fright, but Ed squeezed him harder and gradually Al calmed down. He hugged his stuffed cat tight and looked at Ed with solemn silver eyes. "Thank you, Brother. I don't like being alone at night."
At first, Ed wasn't sure what had woken him when he opened his eyes. He blinked to push away the last misty tendrils of the dream, and then he heard it. A soft, snuffling noise, almost too quiet to be heard, was coming from the far corner of the hotel room. Ed slowly sat up and looked over at the corner. He could just make out the large, hunched form of his little brother, and it seemed those snuffling noises were coming from him. Ed had only heard such a sound once or twice before, and those had been times when Al was so steeped in despair that he made crying sounds even though he couldn't shed a tear.
What must it be like to go for four years without being able to cry once? Ed didn't enjoy crying, but sometimes his emotions got so heavy he couldn't keep them inside anymore, and they spilled out of his eyes as salty tears. The tears were a relief those times, and allowed him to release a little of his emotions. That was part of the pain Al carried inside that empty suit of armor: the pain of never being able to cry.
Before he was aware of doing it, Ed had gotten to his feet and began to cross the room. His bare feet made alternating sounds of pat – thump – pat – thump. Al looked up as he heard the footsteps and made a strange sound halfway between a sob and a gasp that echoed around his empty helmet. Ed paused for a moment, standing right in front of Al, and then sat down beside him. "Bad dream, Al?" he asked after a while.
"Um...sort of..." Al's voice was inquisitive and a little surprised, as though wondering why his brother had suddenly gotten out of bed to sit next to him.
"Well, don't worry," Ed said softly, ducking under Al's large arm to sit right next to him. The steel was cold against the bare skin of his left arm, but what did that matter? "I'm here. You're safe."
"Yeah..." Al replied slowly. "Thank you...Brother. I...I don't like being alone at night."