Title - Like Good Steel

Author – D M Evans

Disclaimer - Arakawa owns them

Summary - Life was sometimes far too hard

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Life could be unnecessarily brutal. Izumi knew this from far-too-intimate experience. Her childhood had been hard, but good in its way, and her marriage was better than she could have dreamed. Every day she found another way to fall in love again with Sig.

The brutal came unexpectedly when her baby died. Nothing could have prepared Izumi for a loss of that magnitude. She felt hollowed out inside, unable to rest, unable to think of anything other than restoring her son to her arms. Hollowed out, that was a perfect term for how she had felt and that was what the Gate had done to her.

She would never have another child of own. There was nothing but empty space and rewired innards inside of her abdomen. She would most likely not even have a long life with Sig and that was hard, too. Izumi knew he was just as aware of that as she was. Mr. Hohenheim had done something to her that might at least give her a few more good years with the love of her life and she would always be grateful for it.

Izumi knew the two boys she had taken in had faced cruel events even as young as they were, left without a mother and their father off somewhere in the world as if he didn't understand what a precious thing he had in those boys. Some would think her early treatment of them to be brutal, too, testing them like she had on Yock Island. It wasn't as if she had left them truly in danger and it gave them the experience to face life.

They needed it, as it turned out. Izumi knew she should have been more honest with them. It had been obvious how smart they were, but she never thought they'd figure out human transmutation so young. The atrociousness of what they went through at the hands of the Gate was beyond anything she could have imagined. Her heart broke for them when she saw them again. Izumi knew she had failed them and that truth was like a kick in the teeth.

Being dragged into that brutal series of battles against Father showed her things Izumi would have been better off never seeing. But beyond the fear and the blood, she saw the true heart of those boys, no their hearts and the hearts of all their friends and family: Their father ultimately sacrificing himself for them, Mustang fighting blind with Hawkeye – weak and drained of blood as she was – battling next to him, never giving in, Alphonse giving up his soul so his brother could have his arm back to stop the monster before all of Amestris was destroyed like Xerxes so long ago.

Like good steel, they had been tested. All of the hardship had brought them to this place. Izumi looked down into a little face, pinched up and angry, as the baby in her arms shrieked, every bit as loud as his father. Edward hovered at her elbow, so proud she could believe he thought he'd achieved something no man ever had. As she held the babe, life kicked and screamed wanting something; life always did. Edward's son would not have to face such a brutal world, not if Izumi had anything to say about it.