chapter 3.

change in seasons

There was a lot to be said for motherhood, Ed thought. It was certainly true that it was the highest act of life, the one awe-inspiring step of creation and change that no alchemist born could dream of reproducing. It was certainly true that the bond between mother and child was among the most sacred that could exist between two human beings.

It wasn't even as if Ed wasn't ecstatic that Winry got the chance to participate in this mystical experience. It wasn't like he wasn't looking forward to the new baby, with no less awe but somewhat less dread now that he'd had a little practice. It wasn't even that Winry didn't glow very beautifully with the new influx of hormones.

However, those same hormones—

"OW! Holy fucking hell, Winry, that HURTS!"

—made it very difficult to be her patient at a time like this.

"Don't be such a wuss," Winry said with a brutal lack of sympathy. Ed gritted his teeth, and wrapped his human hand around the edge of the work table so he could twist around to glare at her. Okay, so this was technically his fault, but she didn't have to be so insensitive!

"Aren't you supposed to be getting caring and maternal around about now?" he grumbled. Winry frowned at him, and expertly found and pulled something in his arm that made him yelp and quickly turn his head straight.

"Not towards idiots who mess up their automail in pointless theatrics," she snapped, fingers working quickly and remorselessly at the gears in his elbow. He yipped again, squirming on the table. "I think you actually bent the gear shaft here, Ed! What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking that if I didn't get downstairs within five seconds, then Scieszka would have OW! OW BLOODY OW!"

Winry sighed, and pulled her hand free. "That's not even supposed to hurt, Ed," she scolded him. "You've tangled something up inside. I'm going to have to take it off to adjust it."

"Yeah, yeah," he grumbled, propping himself up on his other elbow and glancing back at her again. "Couldn't you have said that first and I wouldn't have to be attached to it while you tortured me?"

"I had to give it a chance to be simple," she snapped. "Stop complaining just for the sake of being contrary. I'm not in the mood."

Ed opened his mouth to argue, then shut it and ducked his head. He had faced down pregnant women before wearing even less than the drawstring sweatpants he had on now, and it hadn't been an experience to take lightly. He was learning. Slowly, but he was learning.

So he lay back down on the bench like a good boy and let her take off his arm. At least she was skillful enough at it that it all came off at once, neatly, with no drag, he thought ruefully. Not that he often had to take it off himself, but without proper leverage, even he couldn't manage it that cleanly.

He sighed when he heard the click, and felt the sudden numbness, the startling lack of feedback in his right arm that quickly faded into nothing at all. "I'll be back with this soon," Winry told him, "so stay right here."

"Yes, Winry," he said, practicing his meek tone. He levered himself up and turned to sit on the edge of the worktable, annoyed that his feet barely touched the floor from here. She hmphed and left the room; he heard a door somewhere open and close.

He waited.

And waited.

A breeze stole in through the cracked-open window, stealing up the loose pant legs from his bare feet and whispering around his bare shoulders. Ed shivered slightly, wrapping his left arm around his chest. It was getting on into autumn, and growing colder. He would go and get his clothes, if not for the fact that Winry would be very annoyed to come back and find him dressed without her permission. Besides, it was enough of a pain to do with only one arm. He was a grown man, damn it; a little draft wasn't going to bother him.

A bigger one, however, carrying a sharp hint of dampness with it, was another matter. Ed hunched over and shivered as the door to the outside opened, letting a blast of air in with it. "Damn it, Winry," he growled. "Don't..."

He trailed off as his brother leaned into the room, saw him, and smiled. "Oh, there you are, Brother," Al said, letting himself in and closing the door with a sharp click. "What, isn't Winry finished with you?"

"No, she just decided to carry on molesting my arm in the workshop," Ed grumbled.

"I'm surprised. Especially since I saw her with Scieszka in the kitchen just a minute ago. Don't worry,—I'm sure she'll bring it back soon, unless we find some especially tough meat in the stew tonight."

"What?" Ed was outraged. "In the kitchen? Hey! She can't just – leave off in the middle of an appointment to go get a snack! I'm stranded and half naked here!"

"I noticed," Al purred, looking Ed up and down. Ed blushed and glared, crossing his... arm over his chest defensively. Damn, that gesture simply didn't work so well when he only had one.

"How long am I supposed to wait?" Ed said, frowning with annoyance. "I'm cold."

Al grinned, eyes on Ed's chest. "I noticed that, too." Ed scowled, and pushed himself to the edge of the table. Enough was enough.

"Well, hand me my shirt, then!" Ed said. "If she's going to wander off, then I'm not going to wait for her to come back to get dressed."

"Sure thing, Brother," Al said easily. "Where's your clothes, then?"

"Oh, I put them on the back of the, uh..." Ed's eyes fell on the chair under the window. He blinked, then his eyes widened. "Wait a minute..."

"Should I have mentioned that Winry just dropped off a load of laundry?" Al said, eyes wide and innocent.

"What? No! WINRY!" Ed twisted, frantically searching the workroom for his discarded clothes. No sign of them. Al laughed, and Ed speared him with a furious glare. "She did this on purpose!" he said, outraged.

"Oh, almost certainly," Al agreed, rocking on his heels. "Possibly because I asked her to."

"She's just getting revenge for – Huh?" Ed gawked for a moment then sputtered. "You asked – but why?"

"Honestly, Brother." Al took a step forward, still grinning with amusement. "You're the genius, you don't need me to help you figure it out."

"Uh—" Ed looked up as Al stepped up in front of him, leaning back on the workbench. "This doesn't have anything to do with leaving you with the dishes last night, does it?"

Al sighed, and shook his head. "Not everything's about childish pranks and payback, Brother," he said softly, and put his hand behind Edward's head. Ed didn't resist as Al ducked down, drawing him forward for a kiss, although he did take a moment to grumble about little brothers who were supposed to be little, damn it. Al leaned forward, slipping between Ed's legs where he sat on the edge of the worktable, and deepened the kiss. Ed sighed, putting his hand on the table to support himself as he leaned back, and Al's arm came up to circle around his chest. The sudden warmth was almost shocking against his bare, somewhat chilled skin, and he found himself arching into the tingling warmth without even realizing it.

Al broke the kiss on a breathless laugh, pulling Ed against him tightly. Ed felt a tugging on his scalp, and a moment later nimble fingers were combing through his hair, pulling it out of its braid and letting it spill in a wavy tangle down his neck. Startled, Ed brought up his free arm to wrap around Al's shoulders, and found himself hanging over the table in Al's arms. "Al..." he growled.

"Although, if it comes to it," Al said, while his hands stroked up Ed's sides and down his back, drawing another shiver and a growl. "I am a little angry with you, Brother."

"Huh?" Ed blinked, and tried to pull back, but he didn't get very far. "Why?"

"You slept last night in the other bed," Al said, laying kisses in a line down Ed's jaw to his chin. He bit lightly at Edward's adam's apple, and chuckled at the shiver he got in response. "With both of the girls, and without me."

"Nnn – so?" Ed scowled, wriggling about on the workbench, trying to get a good position to brace himself in so he could press against Al's body properly. His groin was already beginning to ache, and he wanted heat, and he wanted pressure, and he wanted them now. "You were up late, working. We didn't want to wait for you to be done."

"Yes, but you slept all cuddled up, and didn't leave any room on the bed for me," Al murmured, and showed his true bastard colors by moving out of touching range just as Ed got himself settled. "I had to sleep by myself on the other bed, all alone. I was cold."

"The nights are getting colder," Ed admitted, arching his back, uselessly seeking friction. "We ought to – mm – start stocking firewood on a regular basis again. Al, dammit!"

"Or we can just keep each other warm," Al purred, and dragged his hands down Ed's back to wrap around his hips, pulling him forward to the very edge of the bench. Ed yelped and flailed for balance, grabbing at Al's shoulder with his free hand. Al laughed, and caught his arm, holding him up with an easy strength.

"Here, Brother," he said. "I won't let you fall."

Ed tried to push himself up, get close enough to capture Al's mouth in a kiss, but he couldn't find the leverage. "Kiss me," he said peremptorily.

"You're so demanding," Al gave another little laugh. He was finding this whole situation entirely too funny, Ed thought with some indignation. Al's hand, strong and warm and callused, slid up his arm and around his wrist with a firm, warm pressure that sent sparks of lightning down his arm, just feeling the echoes of that touch on another body part entirely. Al's actions, his positioning, made his intentions clear, and Ed gave in to the inevitable, hooking his right leg around Al's hips and pulling him close against him. Oh, and there was the heat, the pressure he'd been wanting, and a moan spilled from his lips as he felt Al's matching erection press against his own.

He was so absorbed in that, the slowly building heat and sensation, that he almost missed it when Al's free hand moved, stroking his hip slowly through the cloth of his pants before slipping under the waistband. A groan broke from his lips as that knowing, so familiar hand circled his cock; moving slowly since it was dry flesh over dry flesh, but oh it felt so good, that rub, almost as hot as a burn. "Al," he whispered. "More. Give me more."

"Mm-hmmm..." To Edward's dismay, that wonderful hand left his cock, leaving him aching and chilled again, especially as the waistband of his hands was slipped down, leaving his groin exposed to the air.

"Al," he said, in a dire tone.

Al smiled, eyes lighting up with lust and love and want. "Yes, Brother?" he said.

This position really was not ideal, Ed thought as he struggled against gravity, trying to somehow levitate up to catch Al's mouth in a kiss. He could still faintly taste Al on his tongue, and he desperately wanted to renew that taste. But there was nothing to push against and nothing to pull against but Al's grip on his wrist, and Al was holding him out, too far away from their bodies to do anything. It wasn't fair, definitely not fair, Ed thought through a haze of sex and emotion. His brother had height, and leverage on him, and he had an arm free that he could use to touch and tease and – oh, God – explore Ed's body, while Ed could do nothing in return but thrash and try to pull Al closer. "Damn it, Al," he moaned. "I want to taste you!"

"So do I," Al said, breathlessly. He caught Ed's eyes and licked his lips, illustrating exactly what he meant; Ed felt a wave of heat crash down his body and pool between his legs just at the thought, and his cock gave an aching jump.

Clouded as his thoughts were, though, he couldn't help but feel some alarm at the twinge in his muscles as Al began to shift downwards, pulling his support away. "Al, wait," he gasped out. "Lemme lie down – or sit up, one of those – or else I'll break my back."

"You're more flexible than that, Brother," Al told him, but he stopped anyway, a slight frown marring his features as he glanced up and around for a solution. "Here. Hold onto this." Ed's hand was pulled up, stretched and guided until his palm touched and closed on something round and smooth and solid. Tilting his head back, he saw the underside of a shelf; he was hanging onto one of the supports, then.

He tried to work out if this was really a good idea or not, but before he could protest, the supporting hand suddenly left him and he was hanging in thin air by one hand, Al's touch fluttering over his skin as his brother slid down between his legs. A rustling and tugging warned him that Al was pulling off the drawstring pants, leaving him to the mercy of the cold air, but soon enough his brother's body came back and warmed him.

A light touch brushed over his automail port, and he blinked himself into focus in time to see Al press a light kiss against the socket, eyes closed. He shivered; he could hardly feel the touch, through the layer of metal, but just the expression on Al's face was enough to send bright chills up his spine. He swallowed, and held on harder.

Al licked and bit his way slowly down Ed's torso, tracing each line and contour with his hands and then his mouth as he went. Ed's breath hitched as Al's tongue skated over a nipple, flickering over the stiffened nub without lingering enough to satisfy; he moaned when Al's right hand skated down under his armpit to trace under his ribs, following the extension of the muscles. And he started cursing because Al slowed down as he reached Ed's navel, thrashing and trying to urge Al to move faster.

Alphonse could be such a fucking tease, Ed thought distractedly. He gasped, back arching and hips straining uselessly against the air as Alphonse blew across his throbbing erection. Literally, damn it.

A heartfelt, thankful groan broke from his lips as Al took pity on him at last, taking hold of his hips in a firm, supportive grasp as he lowered his mouth to the head of Ed's cock and began to suck. He wasn't teasing now, sucking with just the right amount of pressure, slowly moving down Ed's shaft to take as much of his cock into his mouth as possible. Edward moaned, itching to thrust up into that hot wetness, restrained not so much by Al's hands on his hips as by the awkwardness of the angle.

Which was probably why Al did it, Ed thought distractedly. Al pulled back slowly, leaving quickly fading warmth on his wet cock, and Ed made a whining sound in the back of his throat, hitching his hips. "More."

"In a moment, Brother." For a moment Al's hot breath caressed his sensitive flesh, and Edward moaned... and then he leaned back, and the cold air came rushing in, shocking cold on the wetness that made Ed jump. "Al!"

"In a moment!" Al said again, and the chuckle behind his voice was evident. "If we're impatient now you'll be sorry later, you know."

"Eh?" Shivering, Ed craned his neck to peer down his body at his brother, trying to make out the reason for this torture. Al was bent to the side, rummaging in his pocket for something. Another breeze ticked the inside of his thigh, and instinctively Ed tried to close his legs, shield himself from the cold air.

Al caught him before he could move very far, though, and lifted his right leg to hook over his shoulder. Ed groaned as the change in position pulled and stretched him, leaving him feeling even more open and exposed than before. "Al, dammit," he said, trying to gather his scattered thoughts. He seized on one of the many physical sensations assaulting him – cold air, warm skin, heat and pressure, straining muscles – "My arm is getting tired. I thought you were going to suck me!"

"I am," Al said with a smile. "I also want to fuck you. I didn't think you'd be happy if I did that without lubrication, would you?"

With his words came a sudden, startling touch between Ed's legs, and he gasped and shivered – did everything have to be cold today? This was really getting annoying. Al's fingers warmed quickly though, slicked by the lube and tracing teasing circles and patterns around his entrance before pushing in, just the slightest bit.

Ed closed his eyes, swallowing hard as he consciously tried to relax. It had been – not a long time, but long enough that he was just as happy Al was taking it slow. He pulled a bit at the bar, trying to resettle himself as well as ease the pressure he felt from below. He felt his leg get shifted around before a sudden warmth draped over his chest, and he felt a light sensation from his right shoulder. Blinking his eyes open again, he turned his head in time to get a mouthful blond hair; Al was leaning over his torso to the automail, running his tongue along the seam of metal and skin. Ed shuddered, partly from the tickle of hair over his skin and partly from the not-really-there sensation of lips and tongue caressing and manipulating the metal parts.

"Al," he said, trying to distract himself, "that is not my cock."

Al stopped, and glanced up to give Ed an extremely sardonic look. "I'm aware of that, Brother," he said.

"Well, what are you doing, then?" Ed demanded, and shifted around, pressing Alphonse's hips with his knees and trying to urge him further down then. "Leave it alone! Go back to sucking my cock already!"

"You really are too demanding," Al said disapprovingly. Ed was about to retort, when his breath suddenly squeezed out of his chest in a strangled squeak. Al had pushed his finger all the way in, and Ed's body clenched before he could stop himself. "Ah – Al!"

Al was watching his face closely, and he must have seen the small wince on Ed's face as he ventured further in. He lowered himself back down, relaxing Ed's leg somewhat, and Ed moaned in appreciation as Al went down on him again, the pleasurable heat thoroughly distracting him from the slight discomfort as Al stretched him slowly.

He wasn't complaining. Even if he knew for a fact he was going to be aching like a bitch later.

A startled noise escaped his throat when Al added a second finger, and his brother glanced up the length of his body, but didn't stop what he was doing, sucking Ed's cock nearly down to the root before slowly scraping his way back up. Ed gritted his teeth, squeezing his eyes shut as his body tried to decide what it was feeling – the heat of Al's mouth, the burn of his fingers, or cold air; the shocks of pleasure shooting through his groin, or the uncomfortable stretch of his joints and muscles. It was all too distracting; it threatened to become overwhelming.

"A-Al," he stuttered, and had to stop to swallow and heave a breath. It was becoming difficult to breathe properly, dizzy with pleasure and with his heart pounding, groin throbbing. Ed twisted trying to find some way to move, some way to act, caught between the pushings and pullings that assaulted him from all sides. Al shifted his hand on Ed's hips, other hand pressing in and up, and his fingertips just brushed that spot there.

Ed jerked as a shock flashed up his spine like lightning, and heard his own shout echoing in his ears. He barely registered an odd twisting and tugging around the edges of his sensitive cock – oh, yes, Al had pulled back to smile, damn him, and laugh, and oh god the vibration traveling down to meet with the shocks coming from his prostate was just too intense and he was about to—

In a sudden burst of clarity, he realized that he'd been sweating pretty hard; his body and neck were almost drenched with it, and it left his hair clinging damply to his forehead and his palm, unfortunately, slippery. Edward had one moment of consternation before he lost his grip entirely and snapped, not in the way he would have liked.

His shoulders slammed hard against the worktable, twisting his lower body in Al's grip, and his head banged against the wall. Bright lights danced in his vision for a moment, and when they cleared they left his eyes watering furiously.

"Brother! Are you all right?" He blinked against the blurriness and managed to focus enough to see an Al-colored blur hovering over him, anxious-voiced. A warm hand cupped the side of his face, tender and careful. "I'm sorry! I didn't realize—"

"Ow," he groaned, and brought his aching arm down to feel gingerly at his head. No bumps, he decided, and realized that now that the shock of impact was fading, it didn't hurt all that much after all. It had surprised him more than anything else, and he said as much to Al, attempting to reassure him.

"Good," Al said, and brushed away the startled tears with his thumb, leaning over to kiss the other side of his face and do the same. "Do you want to stop? Uh, if it hurts at all, we can stop—"

Moment of pain fading, Ed's arousal was reasserting itself, reminding him how painfully close to the edge he had been. Al, opening his mouth for another question, voiced only a surprised squeak as Ed took advantage of having his arm free to reach up, tangle his hand in his brother's shirt, and yank him down nose-to-nose. "If you stop now," Ed said firmly, "Winry's going to have a new client in the morning, understand?"

Al was surprised, but that quickly turned to relief. He didn't feel the need to point out to Ed that his brother was currently half-armed, naked, and pinned underneath him, and thus not really presenting an immediate threat. "Oh, good," he said, and pulling Ed's hand away from his shirt, he closed the final inch and captured Ed's mouth in a passionate kiss. "Because, I really don't want to stop either."

He did have to stop for a moment, though, taking advantage of the unplanned-for pause to get rid of his too-stifling clothes. Al also shivered a moment when the cool air hit his flesh, but he was much too excited and aroused to let it bother him for long. He shimmied out of his pants and underwear and tossed them after the shirt onto the floor, then climbed back to regain his position between Ed's legs.

Ed was watching him with half-slitted eyes, his hand slowly creeping down his chest and belly to reach for his cock. Al allowed him to stroke himself, for the moment, while he finished preparations, retrieving the oil from the edge of the bench and sitting back on his heels as he poured himself a generous handful. Alphonse bit his lip on a moan as he stroked the oil over his eager cock; he hoped that the stretching he had already given to Edward was enough, because he was in no mood to wait much longer, and from the faintly threatening expression on Ed's face, neither was he.

"Ready, Brother?" he asked breathlessly, reaching for him, and Ed growled as he settled back against the bench, spreading his thighs wide. He willingly lifted his leg this time when Alphonse hooked it over his shoulder, and guiding his cock in one hand, placed it at his lover's entrance and pushed.

"Al—" Ed's throat was almost too tight to get the word out, head flung backwards as his body flexed, tightened, and suddenly relaxed and Alphonse was inside and it was so damn hot and good. "Alphonse!"

"I'm not going to wait, Brother," Alphonse said, sounding just as strained and breathless himself. Ed nodded frantically, grabbing for some purchase on Al's shoulder or his side as Al pressed forward, slow and deep, before pulling back and ah, God.

"Again," he demanded, voice raspy and tight with need. Any of the urgency he'd lost during his unwanted tumble returned now, twice as hot and hard and constricting, and as Al began to settle into a rhythm above him he couldn't help but reach for his own cock, wanting to come and reach that edge he was so close to he could taste it, salt and heat under his tongue.

He hadn't managed a good grip before Alphonse's hand was there, gripping his wrist and pulling it away to pin on the table beside them. Ed's eyes flicked open, hazy burning slits of gold, and he bared his teeth up at his brother. "You cheater," he hissed, tugging futilely against Al's grip, wanting that touch again. "You bastard," he moaned, as Al leaned forward slightly and hit that spot again.

"What do you mean, cheater?" Alphonse demanded, halfway between amused and indignant, moving ceaselessly inside this perfect heat. "This isn't a competition, you know."

"Nnngh!" Ed said, hand jerking against Al's grip, eyes and teeth clenched shut.

"And besides—" Al gasped, his head dropping as his fingers sought to twine with Edward's. "If you came first I would be the one who won—"

"Says you!" Ed panted. "Ah, god, Al! Don't fucking tease me!"

"I can't help it," Al said with a helpless, adoring grin, and Ed wavered a glared at him. "You're so beautiful like this."

"More," Edward insisted, arching up futilely against Al. "Please, Al. More, please, don't make me wait!"

Al wasn't sure if he had really wanted his brother to beg like this, but once he had, it was too cruel to deny him. He kept firm hold of Edward's hand, but that still left him a hand that he could bring up and close around Ed's cock, palm still slicked with the traces of the lubricant, sliding hot and easy over Edward's flesh, matching the rhythm of their movements and their urgency.

Ed shouted, spasming under the touch, now beyond words – and maybe Alphonse had been a little crueler than he thought, after all. Edward was so close that it took only this touch to finish him off, bring him shuddering over the edge and tightening so hard around Al that he thought in a dizzying moment that he had to be hurting his brother, pulling out so fast and shoving into that tightness so hard.

But Ed was beyond pain, flying high, and after one more thrust that he thought would drive him completely out of his senses again, Al joined him.

They came down from it slowly, breathing hard, uncomfortable reality creeping inexorably back. They were both wet and sweaty and the air was chill, but that only made it seem natural to cuddle together in a heap on the lightly padded table, relaxing.

"Why do you have such a thing about my automail, anyway?" Ed said, and though the tone was grumpy, his half-lidded eyes and languid pose gave him away. "You and Winry both. I swear it's a fetish."

"Well," Al said, and traced his hand slowly up his brother's side to rest his fingers lightly on the rim of the socket. His own expression was pensive, but not – Ed checked closely – unhappy. "For me, Brother, it's because every time I see this, I'm reminded of how much you love me."

"Huh?" Ed blinked, and twisted his body, wriggling down until he was eye to eye with his brother. "What do you mean?"

Al looked a little embarrassed. "You gave up that arm to save me," he said in a soft tone, avoiding Ed's eyes to instead watch his fingers tracing over the lines of the steel plates. "I don't feel guilty about it, at least not any more, but I'll never forget that you were willing to do that. This—" he tightened his fingers on the metal, carefully, as though it were fragile. Ed still couldn't feel a thing. "—is my reminder, every day, that there is a person in the universe who loves me so much that he would do anything to protect me."

"Oh." Ed found himself blushing; he thumped his head back against the table, gazing studiously at the ceiling. "Well, then, what's Winry's excuse?" he said brusquely, trying to lighten the mood.

"Well," Al smiled, and turned over a bit to lie half on top of Ed. "Winry just gets really excited about automail, you know that, Brother."

"Oh, God, that was not what I needed to hear," Ed groaned, bringing up his hand to press over his eyes. "Now I'm afraid for my poor arm to be left alone in the room with her!"

"You needn't worry about that," Al told him with feigned seriousness. "Like I said, she was in the kitchen with Scieszka last time I saw them. They probably both took your arm off to the bedroom with them to give them an extra, um, helping hand."

"What?" Ed sat bolt upright, a look of horror on his face. "They – both are – with my arm? When I'm not even there? That's just – while Winry's pregnant?"

"Hormones," Al suggested.

"—wait a minute, if they're up there, and we're down here, then who's watching the baby?"

"Calm down!" Al laughed. "I was joking. They aren't doing anything naughty with your arm, Brother, I'm sure." He paused, then, thinking about it, and added in a slightly uncertain tone of voice, "I think."

Ed grumbled something Al didn't quite catch, and rolled away, hopping off the edge of the bench. He wobbled a bit, but persevered, crouching down to collect his pants and started to put them on one-handed. Al sat up, too. "What are you doing?"

"Back to the house," Ed answered, twisting his hips to try and avoid catching the elastic on his still-sensitive cock, and tugging it up to cover the splashes remaining on his skin. "To clean up, and then find Winry. If she is doing something weird with Scieszka, then somebody needs to check in on Terry. If she's not, then she can come and finish with my arm."

Al snickered, but obligingly climbed off the bench and began to gather his own clothes. "If you aren't worrying about traumatizing Terry, looking in on him like this..."

"I said I'd clean up first," Ed said with dignity. "Besides, living in this house with you freaks, he's as traumatized as he can get already."

"If you say so, Brother," Alphonse said cheerfully, fastening his pants quite easily with both hands free. He picked up his shirt, but instead of putting it on, he tossed it over at Ed. "Here you go."

Ed caught it back-handed, and looked at it, puzzled. "What's this for?"

"Put it on," Al said, smiling. "Outside, it's cold."

Ed looked at Al in surprise, and then smiled. "Thanks," he said. "It is."

They would keep each other warm.