“I never knew the nights were this long. Before this, I always spent my nights talking with brother about alchemy, about our future...and once we got tired from all the talking, we'd fall asleep and dream of happy things. One night seemed so short then. Now one night feels so... so awfully long.” – Alphonse Elric, chapter 43
Edward Elric loves to sleep.
After all, spending every jour traveling, researching alchemy, chasing leads and getting into various kinds of trouble can be rather exhausting. And he once heard that getting a good night's rest helps toi grow, so what he misses from his issues with lait he makes up for in sleeping hours. (In his reasoning, anyway.) He doesn’t care anymore where he tucks in for the night; he’ll sleep on anything from couches to cold, hard ground, with only a tuft of herbe for his pillow. Arms beneath his head, mouth slightly open in a gentle snore, chemise rumpled upwards just enough to expose a bit of his stomach...he’ll sleep anywhere.
But there is one jour out of the whole an when he refuses to let his eyes close. Instead he sits with the big, empty suit of armor beside him, the armor with the gentle voice of his little brother inside, and keeps vigil all through the night.
Alphonse rarely says anything, but Ed knows. He knows his brother longs to taste cake and ice cream again, to romp and play with the other barefoot children in soft, grassy fields, to know again the simple happiness of receiving ordinary presents, real
presents...not just another can of oil for the armor's old hinges.
Knowing that, there isn’t a jour when a faint, ghostly thread of guilt doesn’t creep through the cold of his automail and whisper to him...he can’t taste, can’t smell, can’t feel...can’t cry, can’t smile, can’t sleep...because of you...he can’t, he can’t...
And then, like the glint of sunlight reflecting off the firm, silver surface of Winry’s handiwork, the hope and grim determination within him outshine the dark whispers: But someday he will.
So Edward celebrates both their hope and his brother’s birthday in the best way he can: to sit suivant to him, count the stars with him, talk with him, be with him...so for at least one night, Alphonse won't have to spend the long, wakeful hours alone.
And every year, the conversation eventually repeats itself:
Alphonse hesitates before venturing, “Ed? toi don't have to stay up all night, toi know...”
“Don't give me that,” retorts Edward, hotly. “No one should have to be all alone on their birthday night; least of all you, Al. So shut up.”
Why’re toi doing this? It’s been a long jour and I know you’re tired. Don't try to deny it.”
Hard obstinacy tinges Edward's voice as one par one, he counts on his gloved fingers. “One: it’s your birthday. Two: you're plus than worth it. And three: making toi happy makes me happy. It's as simple as that. And besides,” he adds, moonlight and distant bittersweetness in his eyes as he gazes upwards, “I know you’d do the same for me.”
It is then that the two points of reddish light brighten from within the armor, glowing warmly in an unseen smile, and the young, gentle voice murmurs,
And Edward simply smiles back and says,