Most of the time Al didn't consciously think that he wished he was flesh and blood again. It was always there of course, the knowledge that this was his and Ed's life purpose now; to regain his body and repair Ed's limbs, but he could see around it most of the time. Sometimes the strength of just being a suit of armour was a definite bonus.

It had saved his and Ed's life many times now during their search for the elusive Philosopher's Stone and he always stayed awake, able to guard; never needing the luxury of sleep. Their friends didn't care that he was hollow inside and they always remembered that he was still a child and the younger brother. Although many times, his good common sense made him seem the older of the two boys and he was certainly the taller; not that he would often remind Ed of that fact.

There was no disputing that Ed was a genius, a child prodigy in fact; but one who rarely thought things through before acting. He could work problems out almost at computer speed and his gut reaction was often incredibly intuitive; but that didn't stop him getting tired or hurt. It was at times like those, that Al was once again grateful of his mighty body; he could carry his much smaller sibling on his back allowing the boy to sleep or take him out of danger and toward help, no matter how much Ed fought against the indignity.

But there were times that the armour became a burden too, when Al wanted to feel something like the warm sun or the rain; perhaps even the cold of snow again. There were times he wished he could cry or sleep and not remain alert and alone in the night; times he wished he could feel Ed's hair as he softly brushed the fringe from his brother's face when the older boy whimpered in his sleep.

Al wanted to feel hungry again and wished he had his senses to smell and taste, let alone eat and share the food; seeing people socialise at mealtimes wasn't enough to satisfy his soul's desire to join in. He supposed he was lucky though to still have his sight and his voice, he could communicate and be of use still to his brother, but he did feel sad when he heard his speech vibrate and echo through the helmet.

The worse part of all was seeing the guilt flash across Ed's face before it was hidden by his smile or his anger. There was nothing either of them could do to stop the response and it happened too frequently to worry about it. Ed had always worn his passionate heart on his sleeve and Al was always the calmer of the two, even in those wonderful days when their mother had been alive.

Ed always had the biggest smile or the darkest frown and being that tiny bit older, he also had the deeper sorrows. The death of their mother hit Ed so deeply that he couldn't accept it and then had persuaded Al to make the greatest mistake anyone could make; let alone two young children. Ed then assumed all the guilt to himself which was a heavy burden considering what had happened, but he could not be persuaded that it was not all his fault as the elder and influential brother.

It was because of this that made Al regret even to the point of hatred, his cold, unfeeling metal body. What was the good of having two arms however, when your chest and shoulders were covered with dangerous spikes? There were times when Al grieved inside to the point of agony because of his inflexible body; times his brother needed him, when Ed was unable to hide inside himself and looked into his brother's face in tears and with sobs, just aching to be held.

It was impossible to offer the comfort that flesh and blood could give; when all Ed wanted was for Al to hold him close, letting him know that he was loved and forgiven and that the world would right itself for both of them. Al was desperate for a softer body so he could do more than just sit with his brother, touch his shoulder or shelter him from prying eyes.

He wanted to give Ed a shoulder to cry on and to feel his heart beating close to his own again; he wanted to be able to hold his brother's hand as they had when they were small and when the world could not divide them. He wanted his brother to smile his genuine huge smile, not the false one he hid behind. Al hated trying to make Ed understand the depth of the love he had for him with his red eyes only.

It was these times that Al would give anything to be fully human again.

To Ed nothing mattered more than restoring Al. He had never doubted Al's humanity or the possibility to get his body back and he was willing to expend all his energy and effort in achieving that goal. Ed was driven; guilt racked him all the time, especially when Al seemed in pain or commented about hoping that it wouldn't be too long.

Everything Ed did was a means to that end and he often forgot that he was still a child; he felt that he had lost the innocence of childhood on that fateful October day long ago. Besides, it added to his accumulation of pain when he realised that Al was even younger than him.

Although as with everything in life, there were some things that he couldn't cope with; injustices and the traumas of his job. However much Ed would try to deny it, he was mainly still a child and sometimes could only deal with sadness in the way of a child and no matter how strong he wanted or needed to appear, it was not always possible.

At those times he would look to Al for comfort; the beloved younger brother with whom he had always shared everything, their joys and their grief were no secret from each other. Their affection had only grown since their mother's death left them alone. It was a vicious circle for both boys; Ed knew that Al felt deficient for the task, which made the guilt worse for the older one.

But Al was wrong, completely wrong; he was the only one able to bring peace to Ed's hurting heart. Others had tried when the need had been there; Mustang, Hughes and Hawkeye had all held the boy and tried to dry his tears at sometime or other when he despaired, but Ed always turned to find Al as soon as he could to wrap his own arms round Al's metal waist and weep.

So what if his brother was a suit of armour; Al was reassuring all the time, he had forgiven his brother and fully supported their chosen path however difficult it would prove to be. And as far as Edward was concerned Alphonse was neither cold nor unfeeling; his hands were warm and his eyes loving.

This was because Al's soul was so large and caring, that he wrapped his brother in the deepest warmth and the strongest love and Ed was never chilled or left uncomforted in his metal embrace.