A Mother's Heart

A/N: Just a quick drabble. Izumi's one of the best things about FMA. Did you know she isn't even listed as a character on I'm absolutely appalled. Someone should do something about this... someone with power and authority, and a love for fma... as well as the willpower to spend precious time on useless efforts to get things done...

...This someone is not me.

Sometimes he wishes you were his mother.

He doesn't say so, of course - he has never been one to voluntarily give away anything about himself, and it doesn't help that he thinks it a weakness, a flaw on his part, yet another black mark to add to his name.

(He also values his head and hearing intact, and would rather not get beaten up as you show him just what you think of the stupid sentiment. Which is fine by you, since you're a practical woman, and a practical woman doesn't need to hear what she already knows)

But even though he doesn't tell you, you know.

It might be a woman's intuition, a mother's heart – you certainly have that, even if you try to smother it with yells and scowls and roundhouse kicks to the head. You know you don't deserve the wretched thing, don't deserve another chance, don't deserve them, and so you push it away – push them away as best you can. Because you remember the blood and the pain and the little perfect hand that reached out for you even though it was pale and thin and lifeless, the little tuft of hair that crowned its head that could have grown to be a glossy black like your own.

Could have, should have… but you will never find out.

(Because you failed.)

Or it might be because you notice how, most of the time, he seems to forget all the troubles and worries and raw ache you saw in his eyes that first time he met your scowl, and you wonder at his carefree nature at the dinner table until you almost stumble over his small frame curled up in the staircase, just staring blankly into the distance.

You almost snap at him, almost kick his golden little head in flat-out irritation because he should know better than to trip people on the stairs, but then you look at the dim orbs and understand that he's not crying.

Just like you're not crying.

And even though you push him to the ground, push him away, push him to rely on himself and his brother and not on you because dammit, you can't handle that, you notice as you crumple to the floor and cough out blood that he and his brother rush to your side no less quickly, that on both sets of golden eyes are fear and worry. You don't know what it is, you don't why, but despite everything, they still love you.

And you love them.

It doesn't make any sense, or so you want to believe. You don't show them your kinder side, and from what little you've found out about their mother, she had been an angel, never to anger and slow to rebuke. Your complete opposite.

You wonder sometimes if that's the reason they came to you in the first place. If they think that because of all the differences, you will succeed where their mother failed.

(It's total bull, and you know it. But you can't help hoping along with them. You can't let them down. Not again.)

You try not to think about it too much.

...She was sick too - old lady Rockbell told you that before you left with her boys. These children are orphans, she said. No one knows where their father is, if he's alive. Their mother was ill for a long time without anyone knowing.

You're ill too, have been for a long time.

But you're alive.

…She's not.

So when you see Ed's eyes looking to you for guidance, reassurance, the barest hint of acknowledging affection, you can't repress that slight twinge inside you that you can't explain away, that flutter that might be pride or regret, or even love. And you ignore the yellow orbs and keep doing what you've always done, because that's all he really needs you to do. It's enough for both of you, to pretend.

You're here. She's not. It's as simple as that. You survived. You give him hope – for for each time you cough out blood and groan from pain, there is a sullen complaint as you're forced to stay in bed and a stern warning to keep at his studies. You keep him going, remind him that there is something he's lost that he might get back again. You don't know what it is, but you're not blind.You feel it too.

...Sometimes, he wishes you were his mother.

And as always, you let him be your son.