Spring in Rizenbourg is lush and green, the fields rippling softly under gentle breezes, the river sparkling so brightly that sometimes it hurts to look at. The mornings are slow and sweet, the sun creeping up on the unsuspecting populace amidst a blaze of pink and violet and a deep, vibrant gold.

It is to such a morning that Alphonse wakes up, light pouring in through the blinds and over the bed sheets. He blinks sleepily and smiles, uncurling himself from his brother's chest and sitting up, rubbing his eyes softly. Ed mumbles something and twitches without waking; when Al looks back at him, the morning sun has reached his hair and has been reflected, creating a halo of gold over the pillows; Al hides a smile with his hand and pushes himself off the bed, pattering over to the chest of drawers to fetch some clothes. Behind him, Ed snores softly and turns in his sleep, wriggling into the warm hollow where Al's body had been only a few minutes before, and then snuggling further into the blankets with a little sigh of satisfaction. Al smiles at the sight and wanders downstairs; breakfast won't cook itself, after all.

He cracks a few eggs into a saucepan and places it on the stove, feeling oddly proud of himself. He's only just become tall enough not to have to use a footstool to see over the top of the stove; he's already two inches taller than Ed, and their teacher had said it was likely he would reach six feet. "You have the bones for it," Izumi had told him, as she bandaged Ed's arm after a particularly gruelling training session.

"What about me?" Ed had demanded; she'd slapped a plaster on the gash over the bridge of his nose in a way that made him cringe.

"Five feet, maybe five and a half."

The ensuing scream of denial had had people three blocks away come to the Curtis' to complain, Al recalls with a chuckle.

He shifts the pan, the eggs sizzling merrily, and adds two strips of bacon before digging the apple juice out of the icebox. His hands are cold, and he holds them a few inches away from the stove with a grimace before he pours the juice; this done, he ambles over to the foot of the stairs to call his brother down.

It takes Ed five minutes to stagger out of bed and get down the stairs, and while he waits Al scoops the bacon and eggs out onto two plates and sets them, and the glasses of juice, down on the table. "Morning, brother," he says cheerfully as Ed trips around the corner and falls face-first into his breakfast.

"Morning," Ed replies, without removing his head from his plate. Al rolls his eyes, huffs out a long breath and takes a sip of apple juice; when he reaches out for his glass, his wrist brushes the pen balanced on the cover of a heavy book, which is in turn stacked on top of a pile of their notes. The movement sets the pen to rolling, and it falls on the floor with a clatter that is disproportionately loud.

Al scoops to pick it up, but doesn't put it back straight away; he drums it against his plate and frowns. "We were going to start covering the array today, brother. We can't do that if you don't get your face out of your food." He tosses a napkin across the table for Ed to wipe the eggs off with, and shoves a forkful of bacon aggressively into his own mouth while Ed does so. "Anyway, shall we begin with a detailed map of the centre going outwards; or a detailed overview?"

Ed doesn't bother with a fork or knife, instead snapping his bacon in half—Al made it crispy, just the way he prefers—and jamming that half in his mouth. "Either's good with me," he says, and licks his lips. "Damn, Al, this is good."

Al colours happily with pride. "Thank you!" he says, and grins. It doesn't take much to put him in a good mood. "I learned it from Mr Curtis," he adds, and grins at Ed's sceptical look. "He can cook; our teacher just won't let him. Unlike you," he leers, and Ed blushes.

"I can cook! And you won't let me, either!"

"You set the kitchen on fire," Al points out, and Ed smirks into his juice.

"Heh. Yeah. That was pretty damn cool."

Al snorts and shakes his head, resting his knife and fork against one another and rising to put his empty plate next to the sink. "Shall we make a start?"

Ed lies on his belly, nibbling the end of his pen as he stares down at their notes. The paper fills the little basement, with only two small islands where the brothers are laying; despite the somewhat haphazard appearance of it all, both of the Elrics know precisely where each piece of paper they need can be found. "Pass the Paracelsus," Al says absently, and when Ed cracks up at the unintentional pun, sighs. "Oh, sugar. Yes, brother, hilarious—now can I have it, please?"

Ed hands it over, still snickering, and Al ignores him with as much dignity as he can muster.

They work in silence, mostly; occasionally one brother will disturb the other with a breakthrough, or a question. Without quite knowing how they do it, the brothers somehow avoid researching the same topics without a word said, and they can get quite a lot done in one day, if they put their minds to it.

It does not, Al thinks sourly as beside him Ed chuckles quietly, seem like it's going to be one of those days today. "Brother," he says, dropping his pen before he can get irritated enough to attempt to stab Ed with it, "We've been working for a month solid, and we've done so much. Surely it should be okay for us to take today off?"

Ed blinks at him, then frowns. "But, Al, mother—"

"Mother can wait, just for a day," Al says gently. "If we work too hard, then sooner or later we're going to make some sort of mistake, right?"

"... Right," Ed replies, a little dubiously, but then shrugs. "Why not? C'mon, Al."

Now it's Al who is taken off guard; he climbs to his feet, confused. "Where, brother? Brother—wait—"

But Ed has already vanished, and, grumbling, Al follows him.

He finds Ed in their bedroom—they had had one each, until mother died and life on that island had taught them a lot more about each other than they had known previously. His brother is splayed out on their bed, arms crossed behind his head; Al takes one look and snorts. "So your idea of a break is sleep? Oh, brother, I feel so valued."

"Get over here, Al," Ed says with a long-suffering sigh. "Instead of just whinging."

Al takes a seat beside him, curling his hands in his lap. "Brother," he says, and then perks up. "Nelly's dog had puppies last week, brother—can we go over and see them today? Please?"

"Maybe later," Ed hums, wrapping an arm around Al's waist and tugging him closer. Al goes with a yelp and steadies himself with a hand on either side of his brother's chest, glaring down at his brother's wide, innocent golden eyes.

"Pervert," Al accuses, not feeling that irate.

"Mmm-hmm." Ed reaches up and pulls him down tight against his body, his hands roaming hungrily over Al's back, slipping up the shirt he wears to run gently over the smooth skin of Al's shoulders and then around his side to his ribs and stomach. Al shifts a little, letting his brother help him shed the shirt, and dives back down to capture Ed's mouth in a hungry kiss.

They hadn't known that such a thing as sex between men had been possible until they'd started this quest of theirs, to resurrect their mother. Ed, digging around in one of their father's old advanced alchemy books, had been the one to find it; sometimes Al wondered what had gone through his head when he'd read the directions. Possibly something like this looks interesting, can't hurt to try it all; and Al and I are pretty close, so...

The month on the island had reinforced this, and Al thought that maybe if they'd been at home, in ordinary conditions, he would have refused and that would have been that. But out there, alone and cold and scared and hungry, with only his own strength and his brother's to rely on; well. Edward had persuaded him to try it out one night, the two of them tucked into a little hollow between two fallen trees as the rain poured down around them, and, Al had discovered... it hadn't felt bad, at all.

Not unlike this—Ed's reached the waistband of his pants, and his hands slip past it with ease. Al breaths out slowly, and grinds his hips pointedly against Ed's with a whispered, "We have to get undressed, brother."

Ed hisses softly at the sensation and doesn't want to let go, doesn't want to stop touching his little brother's skin. Al has to nudge his hands away long enough to undo their pants and pull them off; Ed attempts to grope him the entire time, and he can't help but wonder if it might be easier to get them off with alchemy. Before he can devote any serious effort to searching for a chalk, however, the clothes are off; Ed doesn't wear boxers underneath his, and Al runs light fingertips over his brother's hips with a wicked grin.

Ed isn't having any of it, however, and surges upward, pushing Al over onto his back. He dips his hips down, pointedly bringing their groins together, and both brothers cry out at the sensation; Ed with the texture of Al's boxers against his cock, Al with the feeling of pressure right—there, where he wants it.

"More," he whispers, and Ed ducks his head down and does it again. His mouth gently closes around one of Al's nipples, sucking and licking at just the right pressure as he continues presses their erections against one another. Al moans and writhes, but Ed stops before he can reach orgasm, sitting up; when Al makes a weak noise of inquiry, Ed Curls his fingers around the waistband of Al's shorts and tugs them down, exposing him to the morning air. Al cries out—it's cold, cold air on heated, sensitive skin—but before he can organise his thoughts enough to voice a protest, Ed is running his tongue slowly up the underside of his cock, and it feels so good; too good, for one so young. Despite himself, with a hard buck of his hips, Al finds himself coming into his brother's mouth.

Ed licks his lips, clearing away the last trace of Al's fluids, and Al mumbles sleepy apology even as his brother rolls onto his back to finish himself off. It only takes a few strokes for him to reach orgasm, and he gets out of bed and pads hastily into the bathroom to wipe his hand and stomach clean.

When he returns, he climbs onto the bed, snuggling up to Al. For a long time they just remain there, curled up close to one another, breathing slow and even as their heated bodies cool down.

Al is the first to shift, to pull himself up into a sitting position. "It's only half eleven," he notes, leaning back with one arm flat against the covers, his free hand resting on his brother's hip.

"Want to go again?" Ed offers, with a slightly sleepy leer. Al shoots him a wry look.

"Maybe later. For now, the puppies. You promised that after we did what you wanted, we could do what I wanted!"

Ed's brows draw together in a mild, slightly quizzical expression. "How can you not want to go again?" his brother demands, and Al slaps his thigh.

"Pervert," he repeats; with a grin, Ed pushes himself up, too.

"So you already said," he says with a grin. "All right. We can go see your puppies." He pauses, and perks up. "Hey, maybe when we get mom back, she'll let you adopt one?"

Al smiles, enthusiasm tinting his expression. "That would be wonderful," he agrees, and climbs to his feet. "Come on, let's get ready, brother."

"Sure, sure," Ed says with a laugh. He holds out a hand; Al grips it firmly, and draws him to his feet, and they exchange a kiss before putting their clothes back on. They walk together, Ed tolerantly letting Al hold his hand until a few yards down the road from Nelly's house .

The puppies are very cute, so small they haven't even opened their eyes yet. Nelly says that they can't hold the puppies just yet, but they're free to watch them, and that's what Al does. The mother watches over them, keeping a wary eye on the brothers; Al keeps his movements slow and non-threatening. "So, Al," Ed asks in a low murmur after about five minutes, setting his hand on Al's shoulder, "How are they?"

"Cute," Al replies, twisting his head to grin up at his older brother, "But not as cute as you."

Ed swats him lightly around the top of the head; his cheeks are bright red, but he's smiling, and that's enough for Al.