Title: Watchful
Author: Kristen Sharpe
Date: January 3, 2011
Rating: K
Warnings: None.
Disclaimer: "Fullmetal Alchemist" belongs to Hiromu Arakawa, Square ENIX, Studio BONES and various other parties.
Author's Note: There's a wealth of fanfic out there for parental!Roy, but most of it centers around Roy's father/brother/mentor relationship with Ed. I felt like Al needed a turn. Set pre-series. Any continuity.

Colonel Roy Mustang's eyes fluttered open to the gray half light before dawn. Too much light. Training kicked in immediately, and he lay still, searching his surroundings.

Open sky. Rotted wooden walls. Where?

Memory came as he woke fully. A collapsing shed in a field. Near an abandoned farm outside East City. Assumed hideout to the latest crop of revolutionaries.

Facts clear, he took stock of his men. His team was spread around him in a rough semi-circle, still sleeping fitfully. The only one upright was the armored form of Alphonse Elric. His elder brother, Edward, was slumped against his steel side, dead to the world. So, who—?

Mustang did some quick calculations in his head.

"Alphonse, isn't it Fullmetal's turn on watch?" he asked softly.

The armored boy started with a metallic rattle, and his ethereal, glowing eyes swung toward Mustang.

"Oh. Colonel," he said quietly, "you're awake." His angular helmet tilted downward a moment as he glanced to his brother. "It's not Brother's fault. I didn't wake him after my turn. We just got in from that mission out west, and he was so tired. But, I don't need to sleep, so…"

The truth was, in his current state, Alphonse could not sleep.

"Be that as it may," said Mustang, "your mind could tire while your body does not." Empty steel was tireless. The mind of an eleven year old boy was not. "Watching the same scenery for hours dulls the mind and the reflexes," Mustang continued. "In that state, someone could slip past even you."

There was another, telling rattle from the armor.

"I'm sorry, Sir! I didn't mean to put everyone in danger." Alphonse's voice was a squeak despite its tinny echo.

"Not just us," Mustang corrected sternly. "As the one on guard," not to mention the most imposing at seven feet, "you would be the first attacked."

"Oh." Alphonse's broad, spiked shoulders drooped. "I never thought of it that way."

"So long as you do next time." As he watched Alphonse nod, Mustang didn't doubt that he would remember. He was as smart as his brother, but without Fullmetal's boneheaded defiant streak.

A long silence followed. Mustang began to wonder if he had spoken too harshly. He commanded soldiers, not children. Fullmetal was the only child he regularly dealt with, and casual reprimands rolled off him without effect.

The thought drew his eyes to Fullmetal's small form.

"And," he began again in what he hoped was a kinder tone, "if you know your brother isn't alert enough, wake someone fresher."

"Oh. Yes, Sir." Alphonse shifted a moment then. "I… Thank you, Colonel."

Mustang hesitated in his reply. There was too much warmth in the boy's voice to be casual respect.

Alphonse seemed to understand his confusion. "For worrying about me," he explained. "Even like this."

There were a number of things Mustang might have said – it was simple prudence, he was responsible for everyone on a mission. Instead, he just said, "You're welcome, Alphonse.