Title: Laying Siege
Series: Fire Emblem: 9/10
Day(s)/Theme: Feb. 21 - "Love me little, love me long" (late)
Rating: PG, I guess?
Note: Interestingly enough, the title (and fic itself) was inspired by a phrase at from the back cover of Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson ("...and her best friend is laying siege at the door of her heart") though it has nothing in common with that book in any other manner. There's spoilers I suppose, however, most people know the 4-5 base scene and A support spoilers by now. Finally, a note on the timeline. I assume the Mad King's War took at least a year, and of course, between the first and second game it was three years.
Seventeen years Ike/Soren.
Soren finds himself in blue eyes. He sees himself reflected, bitterness calmed, anger soothed
the touch is so soft and yet without hesitation, despite the dirt and grime, the shadow that hangs over him and drives every living creature away.
The boy looks at Soren, concern in his eyes, something almost completely unknown to him.
It is the first time a living creature has ever acknowledged him in his short, tumultuous life.
Long after the boy has forgotten him, he remembers, dropped in wet grass and lost in the savageness, the hunger, this touch remains with him.
Warmth echoing through him, a single flame to light the dark night.
Soren has little to sustain him except tenacity. Gallia is not a place for orphans, even skilled ones. He grows used to the sound of doors being closed to him, the look of faces turned in scorn.
What little compassion his heart may have contained dried up, for love is a taught thing, and he has only tasted kindness once in his short life. (He thirsts for it, still, and the one person who ever cared)
He takes little solace in temporary stays in churches and mercenary troupes, they are only fleeting moments, stepping from the cold to warm his aching body.
Soon he will leave again, looking for that one person he lost so long ago.
In the loneliness he learns to speak, and his power over magic grows. It bends to his will, spirits listening, obeying. The ink over the pages feels like comfort, like the closest to home Soren has ever known.
He often still hears the woman's, the sage's, the people's insults. The hate, the indifference, it closes in on him. He focuses on blue hair, blue eyes, searching through crowds, light reflected off of hair, a beacon in the storm.
Soren never stops looking, he doesn't believe in love, honor, ideals, or even hope, but he believes in Ike.
Crimea is a far more different place, a place of ideals, for the wealthy, at the very least. But here there are no beasts and the people do not ask questions. He drifts through towns and places, fingers chilled and the fireside always out of reach. Soren rarely darkens any door, unless he is desperate. He is a stray, he knows this, accepts their rejection and rejects them just the same.
He would kill just for some scraps of mercy.
Soren finds his way into a mercenary company, the other members all seem decades older, and some even have a sort of fatherly affection towards him, but it is hardly reciprocated. He places himself apart, any chance of brushing aside his wariness was ripped out long ago.
The first time he kills a man, Soren finds no trace of pity or guilt, he is not shaken. It was a war of survival, and this was his life. If he had to kill someone else to spare his own, then so be it.
When he finally finds the boy, the one who he spent so many years searching for, it is surprisingly anticlimactic. Ike came with his father, part of another mercenary group. Soren had simply been stocking books when he heard the commotion and caught sight of them.
Soren couldn't stop staring, wondering if it was really him, the one he was always looking for, or if it was a heat mirage, a spinning fantasy of dream or fevers or madness.
Ike reaches out and touches him, asks if he's ok, and Soren knows that he is real.
Soren reasons his way into the Greil Mercenaries. Greil is amused by this, a tiny boy, his son's age and yet barely his size, laying down in businesslike tones why he would be a commodity to the company.
Greil would've accepted him even without Ike's pleading on the boy's behalf, but it helped.
The boy – Soren, watches his son with a sort of worshipful wonder, a sort of awe that he exists at all. Ike takes to him immediately, guiding and protecting him, always asking after him, Greil watches with a smile as his son takes Soren's hand and doesn't let go.
For all his knowledge, Soren was very unknowledgeable about many things. He didn't know how to respond to praise or affection, both which he found at the Greil's Mercenaries. He found the exercise of play tedious and confusing. (If you were to throw a ball, why waste the energy and throw it right back?)
But he is near Ike, and even if the boy who he spent almost his entire young life searching for doesn't remember him, Soren is happy. Ike accepts him, even wants him by his side.
Soren still remembers the hunger, the cold and the hate, but when he's close to Ike, it all fades away until it seems disconnected from him, someone else's story.
Ike's voice grows scratchy and he talks less around everyone else. (Especially Shinion, who would take great pleasure in mocking him whenever the chance was given.) But even as Ike's body changes, Soren's physique stays the same, lithe and even girlish. Ike never teases him about this, but he is always watching over Soren – lifting heavy tomes from Soren's arms, making sure Soren eats, even carrying him when Soren twisted his ankle.
The days of summer slowly pass. For the first time in his life, Soren finds happiness. He keeps it safe, hidden deep inside himself lest it disappear, smoke through his fingers.
They spend most of their time in the little steam outside the limits of the fort that they call home. There hadn't been any serious bandit attacks around the area in quite some time, and Ike is proficient enough with his sword, and Soren with his magic that even if they were attacked, they could defend themselves until help arrived.
Soren slips off his sandals and let his feet dangle in the clear, cool water. Ike rolls up his pants and searches below the surface for smooth stones, good for skipping.
All is peaceful until Soren feels a splash of water across the skirts of his robe.
"You nearly got my book wet, Ike!" Soren scolds.
Ike is decidedly unrepentant.
"Yeah, but what are you going to do about it?"
Soren primly puts his book in a hollow of a tree where the water can't reach it, hikes up his robes and flings water at Ike, hitting him all across his pants and shirt.
Ike flicks water back, and Soren retaliates, hampered by trying to keep his robes dry. They flick droplets back and forth until they are both spattered. Soren, in a moment of trying to fling more water drops his robes and they become soggy and heavy.
Without meaning to, he steps on them, and falls forward into Ike.
They both fall to the muck of the streambed, both laughing and throughly wet.
"Soren, you laughed."
It's wet and clammy and the wind is too cold for this sort of play and for a moment Ike is below him, hands steadying his hips so he doesn't fall and looking up in a way Soren has never seen before. Neither of them speak, and the moment lengthens, Ike's eyes on him, their breaths seemed in tandem.
When they head home, both their clothes are soaked and covered with mud.
Soren already had begun to dislike the days when they would go down into the towns nearby. Several girls have become utterly besotted with Ike, and follow them around, fluttering their eyelashes and clinging to his arm. Even if Soren glares at them and makes it well known that their presence is far from welcome, they ignore him.
Ike is uncomfortable with their attention, awkwardly shrugging them off, completely oblivious to their advances. Still, Soren is only somewhat reassured by this, the other women are threats, and somewhere deep inside Soren fears that one day Ike might find a girl who he really saw, and forget all about him.
Soren didn't care if it was selfish, the only one he wanted Ike to see was himself.
Every day Ike spars with his father.
He watches every time the troupe leaves, wishing them well as he stays on with Mist, Rolf and Soren. Shinion sneers about pampered babies, and even Boyd is allowed to venture out on the smaller missions. Still, Greil's word is final, no missions until Ike can best him in combat.
When they leave, Ike trains a little harder, pushing his muscles until they burn and ache, polishing the roughened edges of his swordplay. At that moment beating his father was the ultimate goal in his life, there were no thoughts of wars and fallen kingdoms, gods and beasts. For that moment, it was just the simple goal, balanced on the brink of manhood, innocence and naivete drunken unconsciously, freely, like air.
Ike keeps practicing until Soren comes, lays a hand on his shoulder and makes him come inside, if only for a brief respite.
Soren was never given to ideals, he knew very well that the life of a mercenary was a dangerous one, every day could be their last, but he hadn't expected Greil to die as soon as he did. It was a deep cut, being there, watching Ike suffer and finding he had no words, nothing he could possibly say could make it better. Comfort wasn't his language, he barely knew it himself, let alone to give it to someone else.
But Ike understood him, saw him far more than Soren ever realized.Even thoughSoren felt tongue-tied, unable to speak, Ike knew the words before he even said them.
The coldness of Daein seems lodged in his bones.They are so close to the end, a mere fortnight from the capital.
Soren's breath makes white clouds, and he pullshis cloak tighter around him.He'd always disliked the winters of Crimea, but they were nothing compared to the perennial tundra that was Daein. Soren hadn't expected the violent reaction from his body, even a short exposure and his body feels as if it is shutting down.
He wonders if this is from the taint in his blood, the beast part of him. He pushes that thought aside (preposterous, truly) and focuses on keeping what little body heat he can.
Without warning, Ike's arms are around him, his cloak and warmth, the breath and scent of him surrounding Soren. Just like old times, Ike is always there, should Soren ever fall, Ike would surely catch him.
"The report," he says, and fumbles for papers, cursing his frozen fingers.
Soren knows that Ike wants the rest of his story, he left it unfinished, fragmentary, the worst kept locked inside. Ike has watched him, face creasing with worry ever since then.
And Soren knows that he will tell, that he couldn't bear to keep this hidden away forever, and that he must tell, even if it causes Ike to hate him and turn his face away, even with that chance, he must risk it.
But not yet.
After the war, the celebrations, everything returns to quiet.They take on small jobs, train in the remaining hours. They all have become so accustomed to war, they barely know what to do with peace anymore.
He watches everything growing, the trees greening, time passing. The clock seems frozen for him, still.
Soren wonders if time will pass him by, leaving him nothing but his own shell of a body.
When they first hear the rumors of war, Soren is surprised when Ike doesn't join immediately to the fray. Their life continues, small jobs and as of yet unbroken days, but there is a tension in the air.
The scars of the past war run deeper than anyone knows, Soren thinks.
Ike sighs, seeming so much older than his years.
"We're going to war again, Soren."
Soren nods his ascent.
"I'll begin making preparations immediately."
"You don't have to fight if you don't want to, I'm giving everyone that choice."
"..Ike, you should know better. I'll always stay beside you. Always."
"I'm glad you'll be there, it wouldn't be the same without you there."
"I always will, Ike."
Soren is all cried out, no more secrets to tell. He feels stripped bare, everything laid out before Ike's eyes, all his weaknesses, his fears. Ike's arms around him, the press of skin and cloth, this is comfort to him, this was home.
They'd survived two wars together. Soren had survived hunger and cold, loneliness and rejection all to get to this one moment.
The world seems so far away as he feels Ike's fingers stroking his hair. His head is still thrumming with a dull ache, the aftershock of the outpouring of emotion.
Soren buries his face against Ike's chest, feels his heart beating, he feels Ike's fingers at his cheek, his expression the same as that day long ago, in the stream.
Soren's heart is so full, it feels like it might burst, overflowing and spilling over through all his bones and nerves. From one moment, he goes from the pinnacle of sadness to a breathtaking happiness.
Ike takes Soren's hand and clasps it to his own, and they fit together, perfectly, like puzzle pieces created just to piece together.
"I'm leaving soon."
"I'll pack my things."
"Don't worry, I'll wait."
The road beyond was unknown to Soren, he was leaving the country he had lived in for most of his life. The familiar trees and scenery passing by, turning to mountains as they delve deeper past the boarders. The waters are clearer here, the flowers exotic and lush in brilliant colors. Soren searches through ruins of the past, brushing aside dust to see runes of a long-forgotten culture, lost to man for centuries.
It is all new, the world revealed around him, the feeling of Ike's touch upon his skin.
But discovery, of things deep within himself, of the world, this is what the future entails. Soren doesn't mind where the road will take him, as long as it is by Ike's side.