Sometimes the only thing keeping him awake at night is the silence.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it was actually just quiet for once. He misses the nights back at the farm house when he’d fall asleep to the sound of crickets and rustling leaves. He misses the atmosphere of gentle reassurance that everyone he loved was safe asleep.
He knows better now. Now, the silence keeps him awake because it’s just a blank background for his mind to paint every single fucking mistake he’s ever made and more. At night, he doesn’t need a picture to know the exact contour of his brother’s face when he reached out to him that day. He’s counted every single one of the black snaking arms that tore his brother apart.
The worst thing is that he knows there’s more to come. That his nightmares don’t, won’t end here because there is still so much more work to complete. He has to restore his brother’s body, he needs to report back to command by next week or Colonel Bastard will probably send a squadron after him- got to make sure the dog hasn’t run off; he needs to decode the new set of notes that he and Al found from the Ash alchemist, he needs to-
Shit, shit, shit, no- he can’t do this right now. He can’t fall asleep, he needs time to prioritize, time to think, time-- but Truth pulls him under. It always does.
Ed succumbs to the terror of sleep.
Sometimes, he really thinks it’ll be different. Sometimes he dares to let himself hope that this time, this time, when he falls asleep he’ll go back to the nonsensical dreams of his childhood. He’s never that lucky, and every time he gets to far he desperately reels himself back from that precipice. He knows the value of hope, but it’s only really worth something if you’re hoping for something possible. Hope for something impossible will always, unfailingly let you down; Ed learned his lesson long ago.
So this time, when the All pulls him down, he closes his eyes and lets himself fall. The sensation of nothingness peels back his skin and bursts in his blood vessels, wrapping around his bones and prying into the marrow. In the interim of the fall, in nothing, he can feel every part of his body humming with emptiness and stars. The stars were from his nerve endings sizzling and burning from the vast cold, so deep and internal that once you experience the sensation once, the feeling never fades. The cold breaks him apart, literally shatters his body into crystal shards, and fills something so eternal in the spaces in between that Ed knows he could live a thousand lifetimes and never unknow these secrets.
Just as quickly as it started, his body coalesces once more and his stomach dives as he’s carefully lifted and thrown downward so fast that he makes the nothing space into something and slams onto the floor of Truth’s white domain.