The two brothers shared one of the small tables at the library, patiently leafing through page after page of old, fragile books. It was hard enough finding even rumors of the Philosopher's Stone; finding an instruction manual to using it once you had it was even harder.
"Al, I think I've got it!" Ed said excitedly.
Al looked up from the research notes, steel plates clanking against each other as he moved. "Eh? Niisan? What have you found?" he asked eagerly.
"I've figured out how to return your normal body using the Philosopher's Stone!" Ed said excitedly. "And it won't even involve any more sacrifices! I'm sure of it!"
If Al had real eyes, they would have widened; as it was, he couldn't stop an echoing gasp of surprise. "You've thought how to use it?' he said, leaning forward. "Tell me!"
So Ed explained.
Al sat frozen, armored helm tilted slightly to the side. "Niisan," he said politely, "Can you run over that again? I'm not sure I quite got you the first time."
Ed explained again.
"All right," Al said, slowly standing up. "Give me that explanation one more time, in simple English this time, just so I'm sure I don't misunderstand you."
"Have sex with me," Ed said promptly.
"...yes, that's what I thought you said. Um, Niisan, why?"
"It can't fail," Ed said, bubbling over with enthusiasm. "Actually it would work better if it were the other way around, me having sex with you, but there are certain mechanical difficulties with that that I can't quite see how to get around, although I'm still working on a theory for—"
"Niisan," Al interrupted, sitting down again, "Are you feeling all right?"
"Huh?" Ed looked at his brother like he'd lost his mind. "Of course, I feel fine. Never better."
"What about your dreams lately, Niisan? Anything strange been going on there? I haven't heard you getting up to change the sheets at night, but it's hard to tell. Because, you know, when you first start to enter puberty, your body—"
"I HAVEN'T JUST HIT PUBERTY," Ed said, and gulped a deep breath before he continued in a reasonable tone, "I did that four years ago, that's not the point. The Philo—OW! Fuck, Al, what'd you do that for?"
"Just checking," Al said, not sounding at all sorry. "You aren't Envy, are you? Because if you are, I'll kick your ass and find out what you've done with my brother."
"I'm not!" Ed rubbed his aching head and glared. "Look, Al, the Philosopher's Stone is inside you, okay, right? And it activates at a touch from an alchemist, just the same as when I clap my hands; all it requires is a guiding intention. Obviously the intention we want to impose is one of creation, as in the harmony of the spirits, the meeting of the sun and the moon, the unification of male and female essences in the ultimate symbolic act of reprodu—"
"Niisan!" Al slammed the book down on the table, though it was more for noise and effect than out of real anger. "Be serious, I'm telling y—did you just call me a girl?"
"No, no!" Ed said, hastily waving his hands. "I didn't mean—"
"Oh. Wait, so you called yourself a girl, then?"
"No, I – HEY! LOOK, IT'S SYMBOLIC, OKAY?"
Al shook his head and sighed. "Niisan, you're a pervert," he said, and picked up his book again.
"No, I'm not... Hey! You think I'm just making this up, don't you?" Ed said indignantly. "You think I'm some sex crazed maniac who's so desperately horny that he'd lie to his OWN BROTHER in order to get a GIANT EMPTY SUIT OF ARMOR to have sex with him?"
Al eyed him pityingly over the top of the book. "You have been hanging out an awful lot with the Colonel lately," he murmured.
"I am not that desperate!" Ed shook his fist at his brother, who remained unimpressed. "Hey! Look! If I just wanted sex I could get it! I've got theories on Tantric Arrays I need to develop anyway! The thought of having a giant tin can fuck me isn't all THAT appealing all by itself, you know!"
Al burst into tears. (Ed knew better by now than to ask where the tears came from; some bizarre byproduct of the Stone, he assumed.) "I didn't ask to be unsexy!" he sobbed.
"Hey, hey, hey!" Ed flopped around in a panic, trying to comfort his brother without getting close enough to activate the Stone. "That wasn't what I meant! You're plenty sexy, really! In a large, intimidating, flirting with death sort of way! I mean, I'm still willing to, in order to help you get your body back, and this'll work, I'm sure it will."
Al sighed, and sniffed, and pulled his book up to block out the sight of his brother's face. "Forget it, Niisan," he sighed. "It'll never work. Let's go back to research."
"It'll work!" Ed climbed up on the library table and sat in front of Al, leaning forwrd to interfere with his line of sight with the book. "It'll work, I'll show you, I promise, just wait, it'll work, come on, it'll work!"
"No!" Al huffed, and pushed his chair back. "Get down, Niisan."
"Fine!" Offended, Ed hopped off the table and snagged his coat from over the back of his chair. "I'll see you later. I'm gonna talk to the Colonel."
"Huh? About what?" Al pulled down the book and stared at Ed.
"If you won't help me refine my design for Tantric Arrays, then he will!" Ed yelled as he pushed through the library's doors. He poked his head back through the door to add, "He doesn't have any silly hangups about having sex with me, unlike some people. I'll be staying there tonight!"
"Over my rusting scrap iron body!" Al shouted after Ed. He made sure to mark his place, place the book carefully with the others, and charged out of the library in pursuit.