He had done it again.

Refusing to put down his book, even when he was obviously no longer alert enough to understand what he was reading, Ed had fallen asleep sitting up. His book now rested in his lap, the fingers of his left hand limp between the pages as he leaned against his brother, snoring softly.

Alphonse sighed. "What am I going to do with him?"

His brother had been making a habit of this lately, and he was beginning to suspect it was more than just eagerness for the Philosopher's Stone. Whenever Al would suggest he should go to bed, Ed would say he didn't mind staying up to talk.

It was no secret that the soul trapped in this suit of armor could not sleep, and Al could tell that Ed was staying awake for his sake, trying to take away the loneliness.

"Silly," Al murmured quietly, listening to his older brother's deep and even breathing. How many times had he carried him to bed in the last week? At this rate, Ed was going to be too tired to function during daytime hours. Surely Colonel Mustang was going to notice soon. Not only that, but there was always an element of danger in military missions... the last thing Al wanted was for Ed to be caught in a rebound because he was too tired to make the correct alchemy array.

Al's comfort before Ed's own safety. Yup, that was just like Brother. Al's soul smiled, remembering all the times Ed had helped him cope with this new body. Like the time Al thought he looked frightening ("Al, you're kindness in a can!"), or the time Al doubted his real body ever existed ("You think all those memories are lies? Your determination to get your body back no matter what, you think that's all made up? No. Together we'll get stronger.")

What Al appreciated most of all, though, was the fact that Ed never flinched away from this cold metal body. He never hesitated to walk beside the suit of armor he knew was empty, never thought twice about tapping his arm to get his attention, or giving him an elbow in the ribs in response to a comment about height. Ed treated him just as if he were another human in flesh and blood, and there were no words to express how much Al appreciated it.

Even now, Al marveled at how his brother could fall asleep against the cold steel of his armor. That couldn't possibly be comfortable, could it? He wondered briefly if Ed had become accustomed to the feel of metal; and if it would be a shock for him when Al finally got his own body back...

He had all night to think about it. But for now, Ed needed to get some real sleep, in a real bed. Al shifted slightly, preparing to lift his brother, but Ed let out a quiet sound of protest and pressed closer, mumbling something Al couldn't quite catch. Al shifted again, but his brother seemed intent on clinging on. Sighing, the huge suit of armor settled back down again, and Ed relaxed.

Well, maybe a few more minutes wouldn't hurt...