title: gold in the air of summer

theme/day: August 7 2008: Somewhere just left of the point of nowhere.

fandom: FE 9/10

pairing: Ike/Soren

summary: While in other lands, with the person most important to him, Soren finally finds the happiness he sought. Ike/Soren post RD.

A/N: post RD traveling fic number 38208032, I have so many of those in note form or half-finished form, I swear. Kudos to RD for giving such a deliciously open ending, good fodder for inspiration, I suppose.

For r-amythest and blacklacelily (afoolintherain)

Seeds floated through the air, white puffy wisps, they looked like bits of clouds. The sun was golden over the small lake, it glittered and refracted over each subtle movement of the water.

The heat had not let up enough to considered cool, but it is no longer stifling. Soren finally felt as if he could breathe again.

For a moment, they are resting. Ike was asleep behind him. Soren could feel each breath, inhale, exhale. He closed his eyes and leaned back, Ike's arm laid against him, the feel of Ike's skin was warm, comforting.

A peace settles over him. The storm has ceased and it felt like the sunlight had lodged inside his bones. There was a warmth that won't go away. It's so fragile and unexpected that Soren hardly knew how to deal with this.

He was happy.

"I want to see the rest of the world, somewhere far away," Ike said.

Had it been unexpected? Perhaps. But Soren does not question Ike's motives. His trust is absolute.

"When are you leaving?"

"Soon. One more battle and I'll be off," Ike replied.

"My things are already packed," Soren said

There was so much caught up in his chest. Fear, concern, anxiety. It twisted and churned inside him. His heart was beating so fast, so loudly that he was sure Ike could hear it.

I don't want to be anywhere where you aren't. Please don't leave me

"I'm glad," Ike said. "I wouldn't want to take it on alone."

Relief spread through him, uncurling, the tightness in his chest releasing.

"Good," is all he said. "I'll be ready."

They take the bare essentials, hardly enough to encumber their journey. This is always a worry in the back of Soren's mind. Ike let Soren charter the way, and Soren deftly avoided deserts and mountains alike, deeming them too dangerous.

If Soren had his way, he would cut corners at every single opportunity. With Soren in charge, it is less an adventure and more listless travel that features lots of walking with occasional stops to ruins and libraries.

He figured two wars is enough 'adventure' for him, it is now that he can finally breathe. Ike is asleep beside him, no stray arrow or unseen assailant to steal him away.

Ike does not mind the peace that Soren desperately seeks out. He must've had his own share of war as well.

Ike muttered a curse as he picked another of those accursed bugs from his pants. Little black bloodsucking fiends that clung to every surface, just waiting for a taste of skin. It made a pop as he crushed it between his fingers, whitish goo and innards slipping out.

"I think the goddess should've stopped before she made these," Ike muttered as he brushed another aside.

"I might be able to find an herbal paste to repel them, but it'll take getting to the next town first," Soren replied.

Ike grunted and brushed aside another bug.

The bogs had in hindsight, been a poor choice. In truth, Soren saw it only as the better choice by a low margin; such as the difference between drowning or hanging. It was better than an arid wasteland, surely.

Soren calculated it would take them at least another day and a half to make it out of these bogs, and yet another few days to the next town, provided the map wasn't inaccurate or outdated.

Soren is always fastidious about maps. One wrong move and both of them could be dead.

In the quieter moments, Soren remembered the time before. He cannot lie and say that he missed the mercenary group with any great intensity. His world revolved simply around Ike, there wasn't room for love for any other being in that space.

Sometimes he noticed Ike staring off into the distance when the night was near. At times he wondered if Ike didn't miss the remainder of the Greil Mercenaries as well.

But Soren knew better. Ike wasn't a man of regrets, he simply lived on. Through life and death, he knew the rest of the mercenaries were strong enough to live on without him as well.

Ike had always been so accepting, so strong to whatever came his way in life.

It was one of the many things Soren loved about him.

They had found some more solid ground and pitched tent there. It was barely hospitable, but would have to do for the time being, as they could hardly sleep in the spindly, low-lying trees.

The walls of the tent were moist and damp. The bog seemed to creep in; leaves coming in with each step, pieces of vines, mud tracked in. Ike was warm beside him and Soren buried his face against him. He breathed in the scent and pulled Ike closer.

Ike groaned in his sleep but threw an arm around him.

Soren was warm. The bog has disappeared to him, there was nothing but the tent and blankets, their own tiny world, and Ike.

In the morning it rained. The tent was even more damp and Soren was jolted awake by a cold drop of water on his neck. It slid down his back and he shivered, and pulled closer to Ike.

Ike slept on, even when thunder came, and lightning ripped through the skies. Soren curled under the blankets and closer to Ike to avoid the ever-increasing drops falling through.

It did not last that long, a couple of hours at most, yet it caused the bog to become almost untraversable.

Ike shrugged.

"We'll sleep it out," he said.

"But Ike—"

Ike had already turned over, his breathing evening.

Soren sighed, but settled himself down beside Ike.

Ike was right, there was nothing they could do for now. Casting aside his irritation, Soren returned to sleep as well.

Sometimes the simplest plans were the best, and he knew Ike would never steer him wrong.

Hours later, they set out again. It was wet and miserable, and if anything, the wait had made the mud worse, not better.

Soren tiptoed, trying to find a less dangerous spot. Bogs were just as dangerous as quicksand, and were often much deeper than they looked. He cursed himself mentally for this choice, though deep down he knew, the desert was hardly a better choice.

Ike was far less careful, he chuckled at Soren's pussyfooting. Soren frowned and attempted to find some trace of solid ground. The mud had already weighed down his robes and stuck to his pants, he felt mud sloshing in his boots.

Despite being heavier and more prone to sinking, Ike had little trouble, despite the caked muck on his pants.

Distracted for a moment by his irritation, Soren felt the ground sink in. The mud made a thwooop noise as it covered his shoes. Soren pulled at it in irritation. The grip held fast, and he pulled harder. It was mired in too deep.

He looked up to see Ike grinning back at him.

Before he could even give a scathing reply, Ike had pulled him out of the mire without effort and thrown him over his shoulders. As Soren launched into a barrage of protests ("I'm too heavy, we'll sink, I–") Ike silenced him with and easy reply.

"You're light, I can barely feel you. Besides, you can't walk without your boots."

To his annoyance, Soren found that Ike was right. With the mud had gone both boots, leaving him barefoot and cold, his feet defenseless to the sharp sticks and stones alike.

This quieted Soren's tongue, if for the moment. It hardly kept him from sulking, however. The entire accursed bog had been a horrible choice from the beginning, and it galled him that to top it off, they'd probably have to buy entirely new supplies.

His mind would've continued on this downward thrall until he caught a hint of brightness. Through the trees there was a light, shining faintly. Sunlight, freedom

Just a few steps more, they were almost there.

Luckily, Just beyond the reaches of the bogs was a town. The villagers were a more friendly sort, and smiled knowingly when they saw them enter covered in muck, the dirt had even caught in their hair and under their clothes.

Two days of rest with lots of scrubbing later, they were re-outfitted. Soren thought the shoes acceptable; there was an odd lingering smell which caused him wonder how old they truly were, and iwhat/I kind of leather they were made from. Regardless, Soren couldn't be choosy, necessity always requires some kind of compromise, after all.

The road ahead was thankfully, dry. Trees surrounded them, there were mountains far in the distance, they seemed a mere speck of dust at this distance.

They walked on, comfortable in their silence. Soren made mental calculations with each step, he couldn't afford to have a setback like the one they'd just experienced. A nagging voice inside him reminded him that they might not escape the night one.

The crossroad had two choices, and the map didn't outline either. Soren frowned at it, a vein throbbing in his forehead. The town had bene hospitable perhaps, but their cartography left something to be desired.

At one, the mountains lay beyond, almost obscured by forests. At another, there were hilly plains as far as the horizon, spread out like a green ocean.

Ike sat on a large stone near the crossing, his sword stuck into the soft earth beside him. He surveyed the scenery without much interest.

"I can't find much info on either," Soren bit the edge of his lip thoughtfully.

"Whatever you choose, I'm alright with," Ike replied.

"Don't you have a preference, Ike?" Soren queried.

Ike shrugged. "You're best at this kind of thing, I trust you'll make the best choice."

And the unspoken thought behind it, the one Soren always knew– I trust you

Soren nodded and took a deep breath before checking the map again. Plains could deal with lack of water and food just as easily as deserts, should storms come up, there would be no shelter. While food would be more widely found in the wooded areas, they could get lost. There could be wild animals among many other perils, not to mention the sheer amount of dangers the mountains could hold. (Steep cliffs, rock slides, snow, wild cats, Soren's mind boggled at the sheer amount of dangers to avoid.)

He nodded to Ike, who in turn stood and pulled the sword from where he had left it.

Soren's mind was made up, albeit with some discontent. No road would be without some danger, there was no safe abode he could take Ike to live the rest of his days, no fairy's land where time stood still and dangers were but a dream. And yet

Soren closed the map and fell into step beside Ike, with that, they took the first step into the vast nowhere.