title: these hands made of splinters.

theme/day: August 21 2008: These hands made of splinters.

fandom: Fire Emblem 9/10.

pairing: Ike/Soren

summary: Soren reminded himself that Ike's touch was the least significant factor to healing. Somehow, something deep within him didn't believe that Ike/Soren.

a/n: r-amythest poked me, (repeatedly) thus I wrote this. Obviously, it's for her (heart)

Soren frowned at his hands. The winter hadn't been this cold since 631, when entire flocks of birds lay dead at the base of bushes they had clung to for warmth. It was what happened to those that didn't migrate, a chance at a frozen grave, lying scattered like refuse beneath their former nests.

During the last few weeks he'd rubbed the skin raw with various tasks, and even with ample time and care, they hadn't healed over. Soern attributed it to this accursed cold, it froze the healing skin and had whitish lines, crisscrossing like fissures over his palms.

Of course, he wore gloves, but they limited mobility. It made working with the fragile quills difficult; too often the feather would crumple and break in his fingers.

Soren flexed his fingers and felt a burning stab of pain.

There was a knock at the door – brief, hard, and it opened before Soren could answer. There was no question to who was at the door this time.

At least he's knocking this time. Soren thought to himself.

Boyd came in as the door hit the wall. He didn't even cringe when the door hit the wall with a loud thwack.

"I've got request, from uhm.. Rhys this time," Boyd said.

Soren looked over, he didn't bother to conceal his annoyance. His hands throbbed, it hurt even move his fingers at the moment.

"I'm otherwise occupied, Boyd," he said, in a harsher tone than he usually used, even on the rest of the group.

"Oh, I can wait," Boyd said.

"Yes, you can," Soren said. He returned to his duties, pointedly ignoring Boyd's presence.

Boyd leaned against the wall. He watched Soren work, whistling and twiddling his thumbs. It took him some time to realize that he'd be waiting a long time before Soren would return to his request. Possibly years. Finally, Boyd took his leave. Whatever the task was at hand, it wasn't worth dealing with Soren's wrath. Besides, Rhys was forgiving, he'd understand.

The logical course of action would be to see Rhys, yet he knew the cycle would only repeat itself. It seemed every few days, the cracks would return. The wind, the cold, the natural fragility of his skin, it all worked for the worse.

If Soren pulled his hands into his sleeves, then it would be far less noticeable. For most of the day, it was. Oscar and Rhys never asked if they noticed, Boyd never noticed to begin with. Setting the paperwork aside for the moment, Soren took to moving the stock that he had been requesting be taken care of for months. (In truth, the proper word was 'nagging', but that brought up images of housewives that Soren didn't think applied to him.)

Most of the extra stock was by far too heavy, but Soren chose one that was only marginally so.

His arms shook and he clung on to the box of dry wheat and rice. It felt haphazard, as if it could crash down at any moment.

He inched through the hallway, balancing the precarious contents. They clanked with each step.

Soren was so focused on his task at hand that he didn't even notice that the hallway wasn't empty until he heard a voice.

"Hey," Ike said.

"Ah, Ike," Soren said.

Soren attempted to shift the box as to carry it while still keeping his hands concealed. It didn't work particularly well.

"Here, hand me that," Ike said.

"No, it's fine," Soren said. He clutched the box tighter. His sleeves just covered his hands, and for that, he was thankful.

Ike slipped closer. He plucked the box from Soren's hands with such disgusting ease, and carried the heavy box as if it was nothing to him at all.

"Where to?" Ike said, and Soren motioned him into the kitchen.

It was empty, as Oscar and Mist were busy elsewhere. Ike stacked the provisions in silence as Soren watched on.

"Good," Soren nodded. He kept his fits balled up inside his sleeves.

"Now if you'll excuse me," Soren said. He left quickly, before Ike could question him more. Because of everybody in the mercenary group, Ike would be the one to notice. Perhaps anyone else would simply think him having an odd day, would do nothing about it and he preferred that. But Ike would ask. Ike wouldn't let it alone until he'd found out everything, and then, Ike would find some way to make it better. He always had, he always would.

It was foolish, running from Ike, but in this manner, Soren was adamant. There was nothing to be done about his body and its weakness, he refused to be coddled and pitied.

Even if at times, a part deep within him craved it.

He shook his head and went on, his hands ached from being clenched so hard. There was a wetness that hadn't been there before. Soren suspected they might be bleeding.

Soren only got about halfway down the hall before he heard a voice, Ike's voice, which halted him in an instant.

"Wait a sec," he said.

Soren did, and Ike quickly closed the distance.

"Let me see your hands," Ike said.

Soren pulled back, his fits balled up inside his sleeves.


Soren reluctantly brought out his hands, back first, concealing the worse state of his palms.

Ike was not fooled in the least.

"Flip over. Palms up."

Soren sighed and flipped them.

"Why didn't you go see Rhys?"

"It's pointless, a waste of a heal staff. It's only minor, nothing worth depleting supplies for."

Ike sighed.

"Soren, you're hopeless. Come on." With that he grabbed Soren's wrist and pulled him into the nearest room, one used for mainly storage. It was filled with stacks of weaponry with a bench near the door, presumably used for when assembling the armor.

"Sit," Ike ordered, and Soren complied.

"Stay," Ike said. He exited from the nearest door, Soren would hear his footsteps echoing down the hall at a rather fast walk.

Soren scowled, but only for a moment. He could never stay angry at Ike, no matter what he did.

Ike returned within a short time, carrying gauze and a small pan filled with something that made sloshing noises as it settled.. He set them down and kneeled just before where Soren was seated.

Ike didn't have to repeat the details, for Soren could guess. The concoction had been from the combined efforts of Oscar and Rhys, oils heated with herbs and finally, a holy blessing.

"Hands out," he said.

Soren did, and Ike begin to massage the warm fragrant oil into his palm. Soren flinched, pain radiating from Ike's touch.

"You shouldn't wait until it gets this bad," Ike chided.

Soren mumbled an apology as Ike covered his hands over Soren's. It was warm, and pleasant despite the chafing. Soren couldn't help but want to stay like that, no matter what pain it caused.

Ike held on a moment too long. When he finally let go and unrolled the gauze, Soren's hands tingled, and it was only partly due to the broken skin. Ike painstakingly wrapped the gauze over Soren's hands, it was especially thick as to not let the oil spill out from the bindings.

"I won't be able to do writing with these, you know," Soren said, unable to keep the annoyance from his voice.

"I just finished up my duties, I'll do it," Ike replied.

Soren narrowed his eyes. Ike didn't have the most legible or neat handwriting. His grasp on spelling was passable, but grammar had never been his strong point.

"I'll have to dictate it all to you," Soren said.

"That's ok," Ike said.

"Fine," Soren said.

Unfortunately, Ike didn't write particularly fast or well. Soren kept his annoyance in check and bit back the harsh words that threatened to slip out. Soren knew that looking over these reports, with 'creative' shorthand, and sloppy handwriting would give him headaches later on. And Soren knew that if anyone else had done such a thing, he'd be irritated with them for weeks.

And yet, it was Ike, so all was forgiven.

His hands still tingled, yet they didn't hurt nearly as much. It felt as if they had already begun to instantly heal, but Soren tossed aside that foolish notion. The air had simply been making it worse, and the bandages prevented that. The oil soothed the skin and softened it, if anything Ike's touch had offered only minimal help.

Though that was what he remembered best.

He shook that thought off before it had a chance to take up residence. Soren turned his gaze back to the paperwork. Checking over, he felt a vein throb in his temple at the sheer amount of mistakes. There was a large spilled inkblot obscuring a section near the top and nearly illegible spelling, along with several crossed out words.

Soren rubbed at his temple, the bandages felt surprisingly rough against his skin.

"That's enough for today," Soren said.

Ike moved from his cramped position gratefully and stretched.

"I'll see you at mess hall, then," Ike said.

Soren nodded. Ike had already headed out the door.

He knew Ike would offer again tomorrow, that Ike would be there, messy handwriting and all. That there would be warm oil and the gentle touch of Ike's calloused hands.

Soren's fingers tingled, and he reminded himself that Ike's touch was the least significant factor. Somehow, something deep within him didn't believe that, no matter what facts were offered.