All in a Day’s Work

"Up," said the demon, as the blinding force of a million suns illuminated its frame and set an evil light to its eyes. "You promised, brother."

"Go away," Edward Elric pleaded with it, attempting to roll away from the searing brightness.

"Oh, no you don't." A hand seized him and kept him from burrowing into the pillow, leaving one free to tie open the other half of the curtains. Early morning sunlight obligingly flooded the bedroom. "You've been putting this off for months."

Ed closed his eyes again, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the coming of the new day. "There's a reason for that."

The blankets were yanked mercilessly away, and the morning chill assaulted naked flesh. "I'm not going to give up this time," Alphonse warned.

A single golden eye cracked cautiously open, and the boy wrapped his flesh arm pathetically across his chest. "You're cruel."

"Just reasonable," Al corrected, and without a word of warning seized both his brother's ankles—one flesh, one metal—and yanked hard enough to pull Edward from the bed and to a graceless heap on the floor.

"Al!" the boy squawked, indignant, quite suddenly very awake indeed.

The protest was met with a pair of pants hitting him full in the face. "Get dressed, brother. This place is a sty—we're cleaning today if I have to drag you every step of the way."

A brief tussle with the newly acquired article of clothes allowed Ed to free himself from the tangle of fabric. "But it's early!"

"Well," the younger boy pointed out reasonably, with a smile that was just a bit smug. "Maybe you should've gone to bed earlier."

Edward sputtered. "But—but you're the one who wanted to stay up! If you hadn't wanted to try that damn—"

A shirt joined the pair of pants, cutting the protest off mid-sentence. "I didn't hear you complaining last night," Alphonse pointed out sweetly.

By the time Ed fought his way clear of the cloth, his little brother was already halfway down the hall. "Al!" he called, the word half irritation and half pleading.

"If you don't hurry," the response came, "I'll finish the coffee!"

All that Alphonse could hear from the kitchen was a muffled curse and a series of thumps, but the boy was forced to pause in pouring the coffee for fear that his laughter would cause a spill.