Title: jamais vu
Series: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
A/N: alphabetlove's theme 10 "jamais vu."
10: jamais vu: The antithesis of déjà vu, and far more destructive. Literally, "never considering" (as opposed to "already considering"). It is characterized by the sensation one feels when that which is normally familiar to oneself appears instead completely new and foreign--that is, it is an amnesic response.
Mildly AU Victory always comes with a price, and while The Mad King's War was won, the hero did not come out unscathed. In the days that follow, Ike attempts to find again the memories he lost. IkeSoren.
details: this assumes that in canon it was hard mode and you fought beserked!Ashnard. Ashnard was beaten, but he severely injured Ike and Beserked!Ashnard was finished off by Tibarn/Naesala/Griffica/Nasir/Ena etc. The nature of Ike's injury was a head wound, causing a coma and then, memory loss.
Colors appeared, wood walls, stone. It blurred and swam before his eyes, Ike blinked to clear them, the light trailing in was painful, too bright.
"He's awake! Brother, you're back!"
There was stir and commotion as the rest of the mercenaries gathered .
"How many fingers am I holding up?" Said a green-haired smiling knight. Oscar.
"Three," Ike said.
"Tell me, what do you remember?" A red haired woman. Titania.
"My name is Ike. We're in Crimea, there was a war against Daein and you're...Titania, I think?" He said, pointing at her. Lifting his arm was surprisingly difficult.
"I'm so glad there seems to be no permanent damage," Titania said.
"We were sure you were a goner when you fell such a long ways, even after Soren used that Recover staff on you, you still didn't wake up," said a priest this time. Rhys.
"Ike, you're awake..finally..."
Ike blinked. This new addition he didn't recognize. Red eyes, black hair, a striking face, pale skin. He felt as if he should know him, but there was a blank space.
"...who are you?"
The boy froze, his face caught in shock and horror and then he seemed to deflate, a determined sort of sorrow settled over him.
"But Ike, that's–"
He spoke over Titania, his voice seeming to tremble with the effort. "I'm the staff officer. Commander Greil – your father hired me to attend to secretarial work. My name is Soren."
"It's nice to meet you, Soren," Ike said.
"...likewise. If you'll excuse me I must be going."
The next few days most of the mercenary group spent their days attempting to prevent Ike from overworking himself, if they had their way, Ike probably would've stayed in bed another day or two at least. (Or in the case of some, another few weeks.)
Rhys sat on the edge of the bed, Ike was sure that if he had his way, Rhys would be force-feeding him all sorts of healing teas and nutritious food. Rhys hummed slightly as he checked Ike's muscles, muttering along the way.
"No permanent damage it seems, you're good to go," Rhys said.
"This feels familiar... Were you the one who took care of me?" Ike said.
"Ah, no. Soren insisted on caring for you himself. It was quite hard to get him from your side, actually. He was the one who figured out how to make you drink even in that state, I suppose you could he's the reason you survived. "
Ike was perplexed.
"I thought you said he was new? Didn't I just meet him?"
"Oh— Um, He was hired ah, shortly before you were– hurt," Rhys said.
"No, that can't be right..he said he was hired by my father," Ike replied.
"Well, you see...it's...Ike, you really don't remember anything?"
The details swam before him, a boy, woods, tangled black hair. His head felt as if it were being ripped in two.
"I don't know."
He remembered the period of darkness, feeling disconnected from his body, soft touches, a voice— "You have to live, Ike. I won't be able to take it if you die. I won't–"
"I remember someone, I just don't know who they are."
"Perhaps," Rhys said carefully, "You should try to find that part which you've lost."
There were many other things lost, names of cities, towns, and yet he had been able to glean the most important; a princess who was more a figure and name than a corporeal body, a country which he'd once called home, a mercenary group that felt like a family.
Except for Soren.
It was more than just memories, he had lost a bit of muscle tone during his coma. It had been a relatively short time, little more than a week, but it had been enough to already feel atrophy setting in. Ike put himself through a harsh regiment of sparring and training, attempting to regain the ground he'd lost.
There's always food and water put close-by, if ever he got hurt, the blood would barely have a chance to drip before he would be healed.
The staff officer was never far away, and yet, he was shuttered off, sealed within himself to a place even Ike couldn't reach.
Ike went through the motions of reconstruction, of Crimea, of his own psyche. People walked on eggshells around him, as if he'd lapse back into a coma should they speak too loud.
Elincia had rehired him, this time for the less glorious job of protecting and rebuilding. They took on smaller jobs and grow accustomed to the peace.
Without meaning to, he overheard a conversation. Checking the kitchens for Mist, he instead found Oscar and Rhys, deep in conversation.
"For a while he seemed to be really opening up," Oscar said in hushed tones.
"..but now, he barely even responds," Rhys replied.
"They used to be so close, it's sad, really..."
In the setting sun, houses were formed again, their structures going from bare, burnt skeletons, stone and wood were the flesh, all made new again.
Soren worked until deep in the night, balancing books, burying himself in drudgery. He avoided everyone whenever possible, fading into the shadows as if he wished to disappear completely.
"I've come to give you the supplies report."
Soren's voice was huskier than usual, and there were dark circles under his red-rimmed eyes.
"Are you sick? You should go visit Rhys if you are," Ike said.
"No. If I may start... The food supplies are in good order–"
Ike found himself studying Soren closely, watching his body language (withdrawn, guarded) listening to his tone of voice (flat, emotionless) the words blended together and he looked for some clue between the sounds.
"I'm sorry, I got distracted."
"I'll begin again.."
There was some weight hanging over Soren, Ike could tell. Something grated at him, some voice telling repeating that this person shouldn't be sad, you shouldn't let this person be unhappy
Ike wondered just who Soren was, and why his pain caused such a strong inner desire to comfort, it was much deeper than memory, something raw, internal and subconscious.
"And that's the report. You should rest, Ike," Soren said.
"Yeah, I think I will. Thanks Soren,"
Soren bowed his head in a nod and returned to his work, shoulders bent under some unseen burden.
His head ached, images spiraled, kaleidoscopic, a surreal mix of churning colors.
Being knocked down. A black dragon-like beast. A laugh. Falling, falling, falling. Pain The sound of someone calling his name, begging him to live. Time stilled. drop, drop drop Heartbeat slowing, the air was cold. So cold... The sky above was so blue, clouds like bandages, a hint of red–
The sound of footsteps. Dark hair, someone learning over him. "Ike"
Ike awoke to the same face leaning over him.
Soren before him and the boy in his dream, looking closer, he saw details converge, meet in one body.
"I was walking by. ...I thought I heard something and came to check."
Soren didn't meet his eyes
"Ike, are you ok..?"
"It's just dreams. Maybe memories."
Soren didn't press him for details, or even seek to bridge the conversation. He seemed somehow relieved, unburdened to find that Ike was alright.
"You're always there, watching, but you never say anything. Anything unnecessary, anyways."
Soren looked at the ground, and still refused to meet his gaze.
"I heard you saved my life. I wanted to thank you."
"It was nothing," Soren said, his gaze still firmly turned away.
But he was already gone.
When Ike dreamt, it felt as if he was rushing closer and closer to someone he didn't know, to grasping that one thing that eludes him. Black hair falling over him, fingers entwined in his, he chased a ghost.
Ike began to look for the one he had lost.
Another dreamscape. Woods surrounded them, deep, mirrored trees in every direction, his hand was clasped with someone's else's. Night was coming, twilight painting the skies a deep purple, gold filtering through the black, black silhouettes of trees.
"I'll always be by your side, Ike. Always..." The boy said.
There were leaves in hair, his face was dirty, but, so was Ike's own.
They'd gotten lost while exploring the woods and now were miles away, crawling back to the encampment. His father would surely be worried, it had meant to only be a trip through the woods, nothing more. He knew these miles well, but darkness crossed over his paths and made everything shadowed, hidden.
He was glad that Mist had not tagged along on this outing, as she usually did. Only the boy who followed him everywhere.
"I'll protect you, I promise"
He clung tighter, slipping through mud. He was sticky, dirty, cold, and lost. Yet as he walked another hand kept clinging to his, steadying, reminding him to walk on farther, just a little more.
The scene shifted, another time. The same boy before him, but much older.
"I don't care what you are. Don't you remember? I told you before."
Ike gripped the boy's hand and the boy slowly relaxed against him. He tested the distance, stroking, his lips against the boy's cheek. He was surprised at the shock of skin on skin, an electric current, a pleasant burn.
"Just as long as you're you... I don't care about anything else, Soren."
The scene faded.
Ike awoke. The pieces of memory felt jagged in his hands, he could still feel the ache where he'd fallen, and the soft taste of him, the heat of the boy's arms wrapped around his neck.
"I think I know you." Ike said.
Soren's breath hitched. He looked wary, vulnerable, as if one misstep, one wrong word would break him.
Ike touched the curve of Soren's cheek, hoping it would bring some lost memory to the surface.
"Ike..." Soren said, his was voice hoarse and breaking.
"This happened before... you forgot me once before."
"I'm sorry. We were very close, weren't we?"
"Yes. We were..."
"I'm starting to remember bits and pieces."
Soren took a deep, shuddering breath, he seemed so close to tears, yet he fought them, determined not to.
"We don't have to go to what it was ...before. If you've remembered that..."
Ike watched Soren's face change, he was so fragile, under that cold exterior, he was a step away from falling.
Ike knew. Somewhere deep inside him, deeper than the twisted trails of memory he found himself lost on, deeper still, something resonated. He knew without knowing that Soren needed him, more than friendship, far deeper still. Ike understood.
"No, I want to."
Ike cleared his throat.
"So, stay by my side, like you promised. Even if I can't remember everything, we'll make new memories, right?"
"Ike.. I wouldn't, couldn't leave, even if it was painful..."
Ike pulled him close, breathing in the scent of his hair, it all seemed so familiar. He gathered the bits and pieces, all leading him back to what he'd lost.
He'd find it all again, Ike promised himself.