title: cobblestone path

series: fire emblem 9

january thirteenth / the best article in the market

character/pairing: ike & neko!soren

Summary: Ike brings home a stray. AU, childhood gen and Ike & Neko!Soren cuteness.

A/N: considered childhood gen, but some parts might bridge into Ike/Soren territory because I have a hard time seeing them as pure gen, just as a warning. It'd be extremely light though. Ongoing set of interconnected oneshots all done for r-amythest, just because.

Sort of references the infamous 4-5 memory scene, so kind of spoilers, though I assure you Soren did not have cat ears there. Uh, auish after that fact, needless to a say.

You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed

-the little prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Ike hadn't meant to stray, a street performer had caught his eye, his hand slipped from his mother's grasp, her mind on other things, she did not notice this until minutes later.

The people all blurred and yet Ike wasn't afraid of being alone.

Ike followed after a stray dog, attempting to get close enough to pet it until he was quite far away from the market. On the edge of the forest, all sorts of dark things and strange noises seemed inside, but Ike wasn't afraid, just ever so curious.

He heard a strangled sort of mew, and drew nearer, following the sound.

A boy lay at the edge of the forest, close to his own age, ragged, his clothes were ripped near to shreds.

He came closer.

The boy watched him with wide, wary eyes. Red eyes. His coal-black hair was matted in places, tangled with burrs.

But this wasn't what was truly odd about the boy – he had ears. cat ears, and a small tail.

Ike watched with curiosity, for the first time, something stirring inside him.

The boy's tail flicked nervously as Ike came closer.

"I'm Ike. What's your name?"

The boy made a stifled sound, a tiny mewling in the back of his throat.

"I bet you're hungry, kitty."

Ike fished around in his pockets for the remainders of his lunch. The boy seemed transfixed.

"Go on, take it."

The boy had a moment of decision, fear verses hunger. Hunger won out spectacularly and he snatched the food away from Ike's hands and devoured it.

"Aren't you cold? You should come home with me"

The boy kept on shaking his head, moving away when Ike attempted to pull him along too.

"I promise I'll come back tomorrow, I'll bring you some milk, too."

The boy was hesitant, but finally nodded.

This time Ike came eagerly, trying hard not to spill his small container of milk along the way.

The boy was in the same place, looking anxiously around, waiting.

"It's for you."

Ike reached, slowly, slowly to touch the silky ears, the boy shied back, startled by the contact.

Ike tried again, and this time, the boy let him stroke the silky ears.

"You're soft, kitty."

The boy went back to drinking, and let Ike scratch him behind the ears.

Stomach full for the first time in a long while and the first gentle touch in his life, not a slap or a brush aside. It came without thought or reason. He purred.

The next day Ike came, he brought along his father. Physically dragging him to the forest's edge.

"Can I keep him? Can I?"

"Hmm. I'll have to think about it"

"Pleeeease? Hedoesn'thaveahomeandhe'llstarve!"

The boy looked up at him, so pitiful and small. Such a thin frame, ribs poked out and his face was all sharp angles. Terrified eyes that seemed too big for his small face.


Griel sighed. There was no fighting a look like that.

The first thing was feeding him and giving him the nourishment he'd obviously been lacking.

Next was a bath which Ike had to help administer as the boy seemed very adverse to water. He glowered but let Ike scrub

He fit well in Ike's old castoff clothes. It took hours to get all the tangles and burrs from his hair, eventually, Griel gave up and simply cut it.

Then there was the issue of what to call him. Mist wanted to call him Princess Sparkflower and Ike was rather fond of Smokey. It was later that the boy drew out a very careful Soren on Greil's scrolls, in writing that was far more skilled than most any other child he'd ever come across.

"I think he's already named," Greil said.

Even though the boy was almost his size, Ike dragged him everywhere. Mist soon latched on as well. Soren seemed overwhelmed at all the attention, yet he never bit or scratched, even if he was prone to growling – never at Ike though.

(He was especially not fond of being reined in for dress-up with Mist, and would glare and growl whenever she forced him to.)

Slowly Soren began to learn how to speak. And even when he said the most cynical, bitter things, he never raised his voice against Ike, and Ike never minded all of his bitter views.

He slept curled up on Ike's bed every night until Ike protested and made him sleep under the covers too.

It was warm and Soren liked the feel and smell of Ike, his boy, the one who took him home. Cherished him, loved him. For that he showed an extent of loyalty that was almost uncharacteristic for a cat.

Ike never cared that Soren was different from him, all he really knew was that Soren was his best friend.