Ike and Lethe

Ike and Lethe: Sparks Ignite

Disclaimer: I do not own fire emblem or any of its characters. Lea may or may not be mine, it depends on whether the name has been taken or not.

Author's note: I expect NO flames at all for this story or idea. The lemon near the end is up to YOU to read, not me. I give you fair and complete warning of when it starts, so you may skip over it if you do not wish to read it. I maintain that at no point should anything be assumed about my character from what I have written in this story, and that you should NOT bash this pairing at all. For the record, I do not partake in bestiality, nor do I really have any desire to try. Any flames, and they shall be removed.

With that out of the way, those of you who actually want to see more of this pairing can finally get to the good part.

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Lethe stretched her legs and yawned as she woke up on her small cot. What a feeble excuse for a bed, what with its lumpy hardness and irregular shape. She much preferred the grass beds back in Gallia, but unfortunately one could not afford those luxuries out on the battlefield. The band of mercenaries was camped outside of a group of bandits' camp, waiting to ambush them on the morn. Something was not right about these assignments, but she could not hesitate to perform her duties. Above all she must make a good impression on the others, if not for herself than for Gallia. The inside of her tent was slightly darkened, but with enough light in the pre-dawn for her to see clearly with her cat-like eyes. Her vision was not as good as it was in her complete cat form, but it was far better than a petty human's. No, not human. Beorc. She must think of them always as beorc, never human. Hate will only lead to more hate, hate will lead to strife, strife to grief… the cycle would never end. She sat up on her cot, swishing her tail about in an almost bored manner. It was hard to wake up this early, but she was used to it with her training. Suddenly, the blue-haired commander Ike stepped through the flaps of her tent. She regarded him with neutrality, with him being a beorc. He was one of the kind ones, she reasoned… but beorcs would always be beorcs. Nothing would change that.

"Morning, Lethe." Ike began, speaking in a casual, yet somehow formal tone. Lethe knew that he was always his blunt self around everyone else, never bothering to learn true formalities. She nodded in response, not wishing to speak to a beorc unless necessary. Ike seemed to sense this, but did not leave her to her peace. Lethe wondered why the commander would bother talking to her, when he had plenty of other things to do instead. It was almost as if he treated her differently, with more respect or care because of her race.

"So… Do laguz have any trouble waking up in the early mornings? Beorc tend to be a bit on the lazy and sleepy side, to say the least." Ike smiled warmly, joking in his own way. Lethe narrowed her eyebrows, one of her newest rages exploding out of her. She never learned to control her temper, and would always let everyone around her know what she was thinking.

"You think that just because we are beasts that we are just as lazy as you?! Pah! We laguz could wake up long before your kind even went to sleep." She issued a challenge, although she wasn't exactly sure why this had set her off. He had even admitted that the beorc were on the lazy side too, so why fight? She pondered this question inside, while still maintaining her anger in full force on her catlike features. It was a skill of hers that she took great pride in.

"Hey, don't bite my head off…" He began, making a successful pun based on her sharp fangs. "I didn't mean it like that, and you know it. What's with you?" Ike tried to reason with her, but she didn't want to see reason right now. She wanted a challenge. With effort, she calmed herself forcefully and managed to speak in a civil tone.

"I apologize. I should not have taken what you said so literally. Be assured, I shall not make the mistake again." Lethe replied with her usual response whenever she lost her temper and had to calm down. For some reason, her frustration had been building as of late, and she had no way to vent herself like she would normally. Her sparring partners were all back in Gallia, so there were no other cats to train with. Ike seemed to understand the need to vent anger, but he never seemed to realize that this was bothering her. Suddenly, he began to shake his head. At first, Lethe thought that he was angry at her, and mentally kicked herself for losing her temper for the millionth time. It had probably ruined her reputation. But on the contrary, he seemed more concerned than angry.

"No, Lethe. You say that every time, yet your outbursts become more and more vicious. Please, tell me what is bothering you. I might not understand everything that goes on in your head, but I can tell when something is wrong at least." Ike stared at her, and Lethe immediately felt touched and ashamed at the same time. That a beorc would care for a laguz like that… it was silly of her to keep it inside for such a trivial matter.

"I'm sorry. There are many things bothering me, but I understand that my outbursts are not the way to unleash my anger. If I only had a sparring partner, I could vent more efficiently, but sadly none of my species is at my level. Mordecai is much stronger, and cannot help me." Lethe looked away, unable to find a solution to the problem, but feeling slightly better now that she had confided in someone. It suddenly hit her that she had actually opened herself to a human! No, Beorc… She had actually revealed part of herself to another species, and it made her feel vulnerable. Immediately afterword, she tried to retract it, embarrassed that she had revealed so much in her own eyes.

"I'm sorry, you should not have to be troubled with my problems. You have your own, do you not? I shall try to restrain myself better…" Lethe promised, but Ike only smiled at her, caring yet in his own confident way at the same time.

"No, don't be. I want to make sure everyone is at their best, and if something is bothering you then you are that much more liable to injury during battle. If all you need is a sparring partner, then I think I can help you there." Ike explained himself, and Lethe found herself oddly disappointed that he was not caring for her specifically, but rather for the entire group. She wondered at her feelings, and at how the blue haired commander could possibly help her.

"Ike… How can you help me? Beorc cannot match my speed, and my fellow laguz outmatch me in strength." Lethe frowned, wondering how Ike could solve the conundrum. He merely smiled, as if the answer was plain as day.

"I'll spar with you. It would be rewarding for both of us to learn the other's tactics in battle. You would release your tension, and I… Well, let's just leave it at that. We don't leave for another hour or so, so shall we practice until then?" Ike asked her, and she remained confused. Why else would he want to spar with her? There was more to it, or she would cut off her tail.

"Are you sure, beorc? When we fight, we fight tooth and nail, and we don't hold back. Can you handle the pain?" Lethe asked with a hint of regret in her voice. If he let her down now, her spirits would sink further into anger and despair. But surprisingly he accepted.

"I can handle it, Lethe. I'll wait for you in the middle of the circle." Ike left her tent without another word, leaving Lethe to ponder his words. He had seemed… tense, she could sense. Ike hid it well, but there was no denying that his speech was awkward while he talked to her. Was it because she was a laguz? He had never shown any difference to her kind in the past, so why would he start now? She wondered as she left the tent to find her sparring partner. Whatever it was, she hoped she would find out soon.

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Ike left Lethe's tent feeling exhilarated. He had not expected her to respond to him at all, when he had asked. She was normally so closed off, Ike wondered what had made her actually open up to him… The tents were arranged in a circle, creating an open patch of green in the middle among the misty predawn. The blue haired commander took a minute to ponder his feelings as he waited. As she had talked to him… he had felt a sort of understanding, and a… compassion? No, definitely not. He cared for her safety, sure, but she was a laguz. Ike had only heard of these cross-species pairings in stories, the stories of the Branded children. Half breeds that were shunned by all. Ike shivered, not wishing the fate on any child. But the feeling persisted, that he cared for her more than the others.

"What is wrong with me… I guess it's just because she's a laguz, I want to make sure she's comfortable among us. Yeah, that must be it." He muttered to himself, trying to lie to the part of him that knew he was pulling it out of his ass. Lethe began to walk, almost prowl to him. No, to the ring. She definitely didn't care for him like that. He was positive at least on this point. What laguz, especially Lethe would love a human? Repulsive…

"Well, are you ready Ike? Don't think I'll go easy on you." Lethe told him, settling into a more ready stance. Her legs were bent, her arms bent as well as if she was preparing to jump. Ike almost missed the subtle hint that that was exactly what she was going to do. With a rush, he realized this and swiftly leaped out of the way before she could begin her death-leap. Her eyes opened in surprise as she found that he had swiftly dodged her attack. Ike could hear her talking as she began again.

"You were right, Ike. You are fast enough. This should be fun…" She smiled like a lioness would smile to its prey, shifting gracefully into her feline form. Lethe's claws appeared in an instant, her face morphing into that of a cat. Her muscles tensed as they strengthened, and her ears flicked up as she began to sense everything in a new light. Ike witnessed the awesome power of transformation happen before his very eyes. Studying it, he realized that the major drawback of this form was its greatest strength: her speed. The faster she moved, the easier it would be if he dodged the attack to grab her tail and stop the death-charge. Ike would never dare to do so, however. This was a fight he could not hope to win without his weapon, but he refused to draw it. No matter what, he would not harm her. She leapt at him with the speed and grace of a leopard, and he barely avoided her body crashing into him.

"Oh no… She can turn a lot faster now…" He moaned as she turned at the speed of sound, pouncing again. With no way to beat her, he tried a new tactic. As she rose into the peak of her arc, he rolled swiftly but surely under her form to stop on his knees where she had began her leap. As he rose, he found that she was surprised, and had not completely turned around yet. With his quick thinking, he leapt at her, landing where she had been but a second before on his elbows. In the time it took for him to leap, Lethe had leapt out of the way, and had turned to face him on the ground, getting ready to leap again. As she collided into him with a solid connection, he was mercilessly thrown a fair ways, both of them rolling as they struggled to stay on top. As one finally managed to stop, driving the other into the grass, Ike panted. The catlike warrior had her knees digging into his stomach, one paw firmly pushing him into the grass while the other had a claw resting lightly on his jugular vein. Her catlike features moved in closer to his face, relishing her victory.

"You fought well, for a beorc…" Ike smiled, but could not speak without her knees completely crushing his body. Pleading with his eyes for her to get off, he was rewarded with her completely ignoring him, licking a bit of dirt off of her fur. She smiled coyly, probably deciding to leave him here to deal with the pain.

"Nah, I think you should feel what it's like to be beaten a bit more. You said you could handle the pain, did you not?" Lethe was being cruel and unreasonable, but Ike didn't really care. He was more embarrassed that a girl was on top of him than embarrassed that he had been beaten. As the heat rose onto his face, he struggled to force it back, turning the tops of his ears slightly pink. In truth, he kind of enjoyed it, in a weird sort of way. If she had been in her semi-beorc form, the pain would not have been crushing him and he could probably talk a bit. But no, he wouldn't have asked even if he could have. Why would she? It wasn't as if she cared for him more than the others or anything. He silently took the pain as the sun rose in the sky, and the others walked out of their tents to see the scene. Immediately, Boyd burst into laughter.

"Wow, Ike… -snigger- I didn't know you liked that sort of thing -guffaw- haha!" Beside him, Oscar slapped him upside the head.

"Idiot, they were training and he got beaten. I'm sure that if you were in his place, you'd be begging to be let up by now." Oscar scolded his younger brother, who flushed in anger. Ike ignored him, his cheeks and ears turning a full scarlet at his first comment. Lethe seemed to realize the implications of their position at that moment, so with a wink that said To be continued, she released him from his torment. Rubbing his chest, he stood up from the ground to face Boyd. Everyone else had fallen silent as Lethe walked off and Ike stood up.

"Oscar is right, it was just training. Stop fooling around and get to work! We need to pitch these tents and get to the battlesite. Soren! You're with me." Ike pointed to the young, dark haired youth before jerking his thumb at himself, gesturing for him to follow as he turned around and walked to the command pavilion. It was really just his tent, but it was filled with the current supply charts and maps. As Ike walked in with Soren right behind, he noticed a very strange paper lying on his bed. Picking it up, it read a few names and some letters next to them.

Ike, Lethe: C

Titania, Rhys: C

Boyd, Oscar: B

Oscar, Boyd: B

Lethe, Ike: C

Rhys, Titania: C

Confused, he handed it to his solemn tactician. He read it with an eyebrow raised in confusion.

"Any idea what this is, Soren?" Ike asked patiently. The boy shook his head, examining every detail of the parchment. The commander knew better than to pester him with questions until he was done, so he busied himself with the supply lists and maps, familiarizing himself with the territory around the battlefield. The map showed a stream in the middle of the field, with their position south of it while the bandits were camped north. They would cross the river, defeating as many of the bandits as they could to reach the leader, where they could safely extract the cargo. It seemed simple, but no doubt Soren would have endless stratagems to make it ridiculously complicated.

"It is nothing like I have ever seen, Ike. The writing matches none of our companion's, and we do not own parchment like this. Our scouts have reported no activity, so I would assume its origins are magical in nature. It seems to be a list of support statuses, if I had to guess. The more you bond with others, the more powerful you are when you fight near them. We should keep this in mind when strategizing, as well as trying to strengthen our bonds with each other." Soren mused, and Ike nodded. It made sense, considering Ike had only just talked to Lethe about herself, and they had connected somewhat. Motioning for his tactician to set aside the parchment, he beckoned the mage to come to him and brief him. He was still not completely used to strategy, and relied on the boy for his genius.

"Alright, we have set our positions here-" he pointed to a spot on the map south of the river. "-and the bandits are here." He said as he pointed to a spot north of the map. Soren immediately pointed out to him the correct choice of units, positions, and strategies for reaching the other side safely. He paid special attention to the houses on the left and upper left hand sides, deciding to send Marcia out onto a scouting mission along with Mia to make sure there was no collateral damage. When they had finished, Soren helped him pack his things and pitch his own tent, and about fifteen minutes later the entire company had all gathered in the clearing. Lethe and Mordecai were standing at the far back, trying to remain inconspicuous. The commander wasn't sure, but he could have sworn that she refused to look him in the eye. Shrugging, he began his command.

"Alright. This should be plain and simple. Marcia, Mia, and Rolf: you are to flank our opponent, removing any chance of collateral damage with the houses. Marcia, we have had unconfirmed sightings of a pink-haired warrior stationed there, and he fits the description of your brother. Keep him out of the conflict, by force if necessary." Marcia's eyes popped wide open at the mention of her brother, but he ignored her reaction.

"Soren, Titania, Boyd, Oscar, Nephenee, Rhys, and Lethe-" The laguz girl flinched as he said her name. "You will be following my lead as we head up the river to their camp. Our job is to dispatch the guards and their leader, and seize the cargo. Do not take any unnecessary risks." Ike paused for a second, letting his orders sink in.

"The rest of you are to protect the caravan. There is little possibility of them flanking us, but we are not the only ones in this part of the woods." He warned the group, before finally calling upon the memory of his father once again to give them strength.

"Remember, although we are not connected by blood we are all family. So if you don't want to cause your family grief then LIVE! Dismissed!" With his last word, their group split up into their parties, and the advance group headed north to the river. Ike could not shake the feeling that something would go wrong, although there could be no indication of it. His logic told him that they would be successful, but something in his gut nagged at him… Something was going to go wrong, he just knew it.

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Lethe was feeling uneasy. With any other sparring partner but him, Lethe would not have been bothered by the position they were in. So what made him different? Was it their species difference? No, she would have enjoyed being on top of any other beorc male just as much as she would have normally. Was it him being a commander? No, that still wasn't it… Lethe decided that she would ask Mordecai about it. If anyone would know what was going on, he probably would.

"Mordecai?" She asked hesitatingly. Lethe loathed to talk about herself, but it had to be done. The blue tiger turned his head to look at her.

"Yes, Lethe? Is something the matter?" Mordecai did not have as well of a grasp on the beorc tongue as she did, and he sometimes referred to himself in the third person. It wasn't hard to understand, but it got annoying after a while.

"This morning, when everyone came out and saw me on top of Ike…" She could not bear to ask the real question, so she skirted around it.

"What were they talking about?" Lethe was forced to use all of her skills to make her voice sound casual and curious, instead of confused and muddled. It didn't seem like Mordecai saw through her, so she breathed a sigh of relief on the inside.

"I believe they thought that you two had a relationship. Boyd, however, was joking of a thing beorcs call bestiality." Lethe felt heat rush to her face as she recognized the gist of what her companion was referring to. She felt a rush of anger for the arrogant and rash Boyd for even mentioning such a thing. However, her anger was quickly dispelled, as she felt calmer having sparred earlier. It was very calming. Lethe thanked her companion, telling him to be safe, while she headed up to the front lines. Not an hour later, she stood next to her commander, as the party faced the river that would soon be a battlefield. As the others prepared their weapons, none were really listening as the beorc and laguz stood side by side, not needing to ready themselves like the others.

"Ike…" Lethe began, before stopping in her sentence. What would she say? What would he say?

"Yeah, Lethe? Something on your mind?" Ike seemed concerned, and Lethe realized that this was actually towards her this time, not just as a member of their team but as a person. She tried to think of the right words to say to him, but thought of none. Lethe was forced to make it up as she went along.

"About this morning… on the training field…" She continued, and Ike nodded next to her. She was in it completely now, and could not get out of it. Lethe was forced to continue.

"I'm sorry for putting you in that position… It must have been embarrassing." Lethe apologized somewhat shyly, as Ike smiled back.

"Don't be. Boyd's just a meathead, that's all. Don't listen to him. I actually enjoyed sparring with you. Maybe we could do it again after the battle." Ike suggested, and Lethe felt a smile warm her face. He actually wanted to do it again, after she had beaten him.

"That would be nice… thanks." They stood beside each other, waiting for the others to finish. Finally, as Mia drew her sword, Oscar shifted his grip on his lance, and Titania hefted her axe, they charged towards the bridge. The battle had begun.

Lethe only saw mixed impressions of the battle as she darted around the enemy brigands. As she darted and weaved, she could feel the thrill of battle take over, and soon the only thing she could see was the next enemy, the next look of terror that she could inflict. She saw Mia and Marcia heading towards the houses off in the distance as she pounced onto the back of an unwary soldier, crushing him under her bulk. Ike was right behind her, dashing forward to stab another soldier between his left shoulder blade. He crumpled onto the ground, and Ike ran past him. Arrows sprouted from a brigand as Rolf fired again and again from his seemingly never-ending supply. Boyd was fighting mono a mono with another soldier, as he kept healing himself every chance he got. Oscar quickly joined in the fight, and he was quickly dispatched with a quick jab with a lance. Daringly, Soren ran right into the middle of a group of spearmen, removing a golden tome from his robes. Upon his middle finger, the book spun and danced like a gyrosphere, before magically opening to the correct page. As an old beorc language flooded from his lips, a bright shockwave of energy engulfed the warriors before they even knew he was there. Finally, Lethe and Ike reached the leader. He held his berserker axe in his left hand as he watched them through dumb eyes. Lethe could feel her hatred overwhelming her, as she engaged her foe. She dodged around him, but it seemed sort of odd that he didn't even move as she flanked him. Shrugging it off, Lethe pounced, and only then did she realize her mistake. With a fluid motion, the man pulled out a syringe from his tattered clothing, and stuck it perfectly into one of her veins. Lethe fell to the ground in agony as the poison flowed through her system. She could barely feel or see anything around her as it all started glowing red.

"Lethe! What did you do to her!?" Ike shouted, rushing forward. In an awesome display of power, he flicked open the clasp on his Regal Sword, and dashed past the odious man. The leader obviously did not expect the critical hit as he fell to the ground, dead. Lethe did not notice this, as the poison assaulted her mind.

Blood… I must have BLOOD!!

NO! I will not do this! Oh, Ashera… What's happening to me!?

I hunger for BLOOD!!

What…

BLOOD!
No… NO!

I MUST HAVE BLOOD!

Ashera, Hear my plea! Save me from-

RAGE! FIRE! BITE! EAT! BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD!! I MUST FEED!

Her thoughts fell silent as her primal instinct took over. Lethe could only watch as her body tensed and stood on all fours. Every hair on her body stood on end, as her tail whipped around menacingly. Ike walked towards her, and Lethe could not stop herself. Her body lunged at him, and she would have killed him had he not seen her lunge before. He had rolled to the side, shouting out to her.

"Lethe! No! What in the name of all that is holy did he do to you?!" Ike continued to shout to her, and it was the most painful experience she had ever felt to be unable to stop herself from tearing him apart. Finally, Ike wizened up and rolled under her again. Her body, having confronted this move before, repeated the same maneuver as last time, but Ike had also learned. He leapt on top of her feral body as she jumped to the side, forcing them into a reckless roll. She was unaware that the entire party had finished with the brigands and were watching them attack each other. All her body knew was to bite, snap, claw, taste blood however she could. Finally, Ike fell off from the roll, and her body rolled to a stop soon after. Ike quickly rose to his feet, but was not quick enough. With one great slash, she leapt on top of him and sliced straight through his armor, exposing deep cuts in his flesh. Suddenly, Lethe's determination flared. She stopped herself, remaining frozen with another paw poised to strike at his exposed flesh. All she could do was stare into his eyes, those eyes filled with surprise and regret. He closed them with a final sigh, and Lethe found herself in control once more. The catlike warrior was unable to comprehend what she had done… she collapsed to the side of her commander, her body fading back into her half laguz form as her mind slipped into unconsciousness. 'What have I done?!'

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Soren could not believe his eyes. Ike had fallen to Lethe. He knew that Lethe could probably beat the commander on any occasion, this was not news to him. But the fact that she had torn him open was what surprised him. Soren had seen the needle drive into her vein, and watched as her fur stood on end and she writhed in agony on the ground. It was blood-curdling to see one turn Feral… Much more so to see that same Feral maul one who was like a brother to you. Soren forced himself to remember that it was not her fault in any way.

"Rhys!" He shouted, raising a hand into the air. This was his symbol for assembly. Rhys came running to him immediately, and everyone around him cleared a path. They were all awestruck at what they had seen, but Soren was preoccupied with his commander's health now. No, his friend's health.

"Heal Ike. Now." Soren tossed him the most powerful staff he had on him, which was a Mend unfortunately. It might not have been enough, but fortunately Rhys was a skilled healer. Still, Soren would not even watch the process. He had to work, and he had to do it fast. Running over to Lethe, who had reverted to her normal form, he checked to see if she was alright. After poking her skin in several places, he deemed that her vitals were within normal Laguz limits. Soren carefully extracted the needle from where it still punctured her skin, and was surprised to find a small amount of liquid still within the bottle. It glowed golden, almost as if it was the element itself. He tucked the vial within his robes after breaking off the needle. There was to be much study tonight. Behind him, Rhys collapsed to his knees.

"Rhys, status." Soren calmly asked, while simultaneously pulling out one of his own specially crafted tomes. He had hoped he would be able to use one of these, but never under these circumstances. Rhys eyed the book warily behind him, but Soren took no notice.

"Ike's injuries have been mostly healed. I would give him a day or two of rest, with frequent watch. Does this satisfy you?" Rhys finished, questioning his current superior. Soren laughed in his cruel way.

"Hah! If I were to be satisfied, Ashnard would be dead and Ike wouldn't have been hurt at all. But we are not to dwell on that which cannot happen, Rhys." He finished with another cruel laugh, and resumed studying Lethe. Her condition intrigued Soren, in that all other ferals that had been injected could not revert. Why Lethe? He wondered. Beside him, Rhys was holding a different staff, preparing to utter an incantation.

"Why bother, Rhys? She's already unconscious." He said absentmindedly, although really admonishing the pure magic user for his lack of logic. He could see him blush slightly as he returned the staff to within his white robes. Soren had no time for this, it was time to act.

"Heal her, Rhys." He calmly stated, flicking through a few of the pages of his dark book. Rhys eyed him quizzically.

"Why? Won't she attack us?" Rhys began, before he was cut off by an impatient and furious rebuttal.

"Damnit Rhys! We don't have time for this! Begin the process, and I'll deal with the problem." He muttered under his breath, finally finding the correct page. Sighing, Rhys held the Mend staff with both hands, as if he knew better than to argue with the temperamental mage. He must have been surprised when both magic users started casting simultaneously, their differing words combining into a whole. The entire group gathered to watch. The magic crackled and burned the air around his body, but Soren would not stop. The runes of his current page flared once with light before reverting to their dark forms once again. Soren finished the incantation just after Rhys did, uttering the final word. It resonated within their own little world in the woods.

"Bane…" Immediately, a cascade of dark and light engulfed the laguz's body. Rhys almost lunged at him, seeming to think that he was trying to kill her. Soren merely gestured to the thick, greasy, dark sludge that was gathering from her body in midair. The priest stopped in midrant, to watch the poison be extracted from her body. It was a spell of Soren's own devising, removing even the most powerful toxins from the body with ease. It drew its energy from the spells of healing that Rhys had begun to cast, before his dark words drained the spell's power. Removing a vial from his robes, Soren scooped up a large sample of the sludge, to study from. It had been his first test. And it had been successful.

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Ike awoke painfully, his senses returning to him slowly as if waking from a dream. But this was no dream: it was a nightmare. His entire chest ached, and it felt like it had been used as a punching bag or an archery dummy. The blue haired commander could feel the bandages that had been wrapped around it, but oddly there was no blood. He took a moment to survey his surroundings. Ike was lying on a bed in a well furnished room that looked like a hospital. He concluded that he must be in Begnion. What happened? All I remember is beating that blasted commander somehow and… A laguz attacked me? Ike could not remember, but that was when he noticed the figure in the bed next to him. Her orange fur stood on end, the girl's entire body shaking with enormous tremors. She had her knees tucked to her chest, her tail curled on the bed lifelessly. Ike rose to a sitting position, and immediately the girl shifted her gaze in the opposite direction. The commander wondered at her movement.

"Lethe? What's wrong? Where am I? You look like you've seen a ghost…" He remarked as her body began to shake violently. Ike could barely make out her whisper, although he strained as hard as he could to hear her.

"Lethe? Are you alright?" Ike tried again, but Soren cut him off. He had not even seen the dark haired prodigy enter the room, but it was marvelous timing.

"Ike, don't push her. You've both been through a lot." Ike saw the boy pause, and he grabbed his left arm with his right uncomfortably. Immediately, the commander saw that something had gone terribly wrong during their mission, and struggled to piece together what he remembered. Sadly, he could not.

"Lethe… You need to hear this too, whether you like it or not." Soren replied in a mix of harshness and gentleness, but Lethe's ears seemed to not hear him. What could possibly have happened?

"To answer your question, Ike: this happened." He stated, pulling out a vial containing a tiny drop of golden liquid. Lethe let out a small, strangled sob next to him, while Ike sat there confused. He remembered something… A small needle, jabbing into Lethe's skin. Golden liquid injecting itself into her veins. His critical hit upon the enemy commander and… still, nothing.

"You probably don't remember. Being knocked out does that to you." Soren continued, but to his ears the next sentence was nothing short of cruel.

"But I'm sure Lethe remembers quite clearly." Ike got the hint, realizing that the liquid had driven his laguz friend berserk. She had attacked him, he remembered. Finally landing a hit upon him, Lethe had slashed open his stomach. Lethe threw up next to him, and Soren showed a tinge of regret for the first time in his life. Ike could sense that he wished he had not said that. Unfortunately, there was naught to do but continue.

"This substance… It has a unique chemical structure. This liquid cannot be synthesized by normal methods, and is a conundrum within itself. The most bizarre compounds have been combined in ways that are completely impossible, and yet they are here. With more study, I may be able to come up with an antidote or at least a counter poison to it, but for now all I can tell you is that this potion is pure evil. This is what they have been using to turn the Laguz feral." Soren finished, and it seemed Lethe could no longer handle it. Without a word, the laguz shot out of the door as a blur of orange lightning, pushing past Soren as if he were but a twig. He seemed to understand the reaction, and did not take offense. Ike knew that this was a situation that needed to be handled delicately.

"Soren… How? How could they do such a thing?" Ike asked with revulsion. Soren turned his head, unable to answer. It was cruelty beyond belief. Lethe was sure to be driven into depression unless something was done, but it was beyond him what he should do. Ike did not blame her in the slightest for what she had done, it hadn't been her fault. He felt a need to be there for her, to comfort her in her time of need. Soren nodded his head, preparing to leave.

"Ike, be sure to get your rest. We don't want to have to heal you like that again." Soren added, before leaving with a swish of his cloak. Ike waited for his footsteps to fade away, before throwing the covers off of himself and following in pursuit. This would have to be a shot in the dark, but Ike had to find Lethe before she did something rash. Begnion's city format was neat and orderly, but Ike found himself getting lost as he pushed through the crowded streets. It hit him suddenly that Lethe would go away from such noise to be alone. Seeing a gate to the outside, Ike turned towards it and made his way swiftly to the other side. Ike picked a spot to his right and began to enter the forest that stood to the side of Begnion. This was nowhere near as large as Serenes, but it was the closest thing Ike could find that would offer any quiet. He searched for twenty minutes, calling out to her, but she eluded his sight. Finally, he was about to give up when he heard a whimper of pain behind him. Whirling about, he saw Lethe not thirty feet away, sitting on a rock in the middle of the clearing. Her hands were holding her catlike head, and her body continued to shake as she whimpered. Ike hated to see her like this, and was glad that he had dispatched the man responsible personally. He sat next to her on the grass, but stayed silent. Ike offered only his company, neither intruding upon the silence nor putting strain on the wounds she had suffered by opening them once more. After a few minutes of silence and tears from Lethe, she began to speak.

"Ike… I'm sorry… I never wanted to hurt you… I guess in the end I am only a beast…" She emphasized the last word, and Ike could feel her sorrow wash over him. He could not bear to see her like this, for she was his friend. There was nothing wrong with her, and Ike knew it.

"Lethe… You don't need to apologize. You are not a beast, Lethe. You had no control over yourself. Don't think like this. I don't want to see you in pain anymore. I don't…" He stopped short of revealing his emotions, biting down on his lip to stop the fatal words from leaving his lips. This would surely drive them farther apart, and Lethe would probably kill herself or him in the end. Lethe was silent for a while, contemplating his words. Ike merely waited, patiently watching nature around him. After another minute, Lethe stopped shivering. Her shoulders relaxed, and she stopped crying.

"Thank you… Ike. Only you would see through my actions. Any other would have me executed or hanged… Ike, I wish I could have stopped myself. It was lucky that I was able to in the end, but I hurt you in the process…" She stopped, and Ike widened his eyes in surprise. Lethe was opening up to him completely now. Had this potion changed her? Or did the sight of her own claws rending his flesh asunder give her pause? In any case, she continued.

"I had thought that you would hate me for what I had done… But you still think of me as more than a comrade. You touch my heart to show me that I am your equal. I am grateful." Lethe turned her head to look at him, and Ike smiled warmly. It wouldn't have mattered to him what race his company was. They were all his family, and he cared about every one. But this particular one, he cared for much deeper than the others. Lethe had finally opened herself up to him, and he felt that he could no longer contain it within him. Better he die than keep it within him any longer. She would probably stay away from him from then on, but anything was better than the torment that would await him if he withheld it.

"Lethe… I care about you more than the rest. I don't want to see you sad. Your pain is my pain, and I feel it just as harshly." He paused, but it was impossible to stop now. Ike took a deep breath, before completely exposing his emotions to her.

"Lethe, I think I love you." Ike turned his head, and didn't notice as Lethe's ears pricked up suddenly. He felt wrong having said it. This was surely unnatural, and Lethe would probably think him a freak. But this was not to be so, as he felt her hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to find himself looking straight into her violet eyes, inches away from his face. Lethe was kneeling on the grass next to him, with her other hand on his knee. What did this mean?

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Lethe could not have heard that right. Did he just say… that he loved her? Impossible… There was no way that could be correct. But the way he looked away told her the truth. He did, and Lethe found herself smiling. Then she jerked back to her senses and realized the insanity of it. It was impossible for the two of them, if only for biological reasons. If they put it to the test… she knew what would happen. Lethe would not let a beorc do that to himself, even if she returned his feelings with all of her heart. She knelt down next to him, placing one hand around his shoulder and one on his knee. It was a comforting gesture, but she needed to be clear to him.

"Ike… I am touched, but… I cannot let you do this to yourself." She hastily spat out, and immediately the look on his face nearly broke her inside. Lethe tried to explain herself, but Ike started before her.

"I understand, it was silly of me… Allow it to trouble you no more." Ike finished, trying to stand. But Lethe was firm, holding him down. He must know why. If anything, to save his heart he must know why this could not happen.

"Ike, do not misunderstand me. I return your affection all the same, but I cannot let you die." Ike stopped struggling, confused. Lethe was definitely being unclear, but surely he had some inkling of what she was getting at. Sadly, he misunderstood, yet again.

"You think that if we were together we would become targets?" Ike asked, and Lethe shook her head. The only option to her was to educate Ike in laguz romance 101.

"Ike, in your system of love marriange comes before sex, does it not?" Lethe began, and Ike raised an eyebrow.

"It isn't that way in your tribe?" Ike returned, making Lethe frown. He had no clue about anything laguz related when it came to love, she realized.

"No. You see, passion is different between our two races. We laguz…" She paused trying to come up with the correct words. Sighing, she did her best.

"We have to see whether we're fit matches, for lack of a better phrase. Normally, a laguz male would court a female for many months before she would address him at all, but that was in old times." Lethe continued, and Ike just sat there drinking in the knowledge as if it were water or air. She was even surprised that he did not tell her to stop, even though they were broaching a topic that was better left unmentioned.

"So, the act of passion begins. But we do not do the same things as you beorc do on the first time. Do you remember how I was when they injected that serum into me?" Lethe asked, and Ike nodded slightly. She was leading to the reason why they could not be together.

"We regress, and become feral in our passion. If we are fit matches, then all that is augmented are our senses and love, and of course pregnancy is inevitable. That pretty much seals the deal right there." Lethe rambled off, and Ike began to nod in understanding.

"So, marriage and sex are synonymous for the first time in laguz culture, right? I still do not see the reason why we cannot be together." Ike still could not see the reason, eh? Lethe decided to poke him in the right direction.

"Feel your stomach, Ike. Now tell me why exactly I think that this would be impossible." Ike did as he was told, and a pale look set over his face as he finally realized what Lethe was referring to. If she acted in the same way when she went feral last time as she would next time, then Ike would die.

"It is the same way to laguz, if that makes you feel any better. The females go completely berserk on the male, obliterating them completely. Besides, imagine a child born between us." She shuddered to think of it.

"It would be Branded. We would have sent our child to a world of torture and agony." Lethe told him firmly, making sure he knew exactly what he was getting into. Lethe would have loved nothing more to test her love against him, but the results would be catastrophic in either outcome. Ike simply shook his head.

"The Branded are only as they are because their parents shun them. They are who they are because they have not received the love they need. It does not have to be that way, Lethe!" He exclaimed, and Lethe was surprised to see the passion within the boy ignite in a blaze. Ike would not stop until he had convinced her, nay, the world that his view was correct and nothing would change that. In a way, Lethe admired him, and her feelings nearly drove her to the point where she would lose control. No! I will not lose it here, damnit! If I kill him this time…I won't be able to live myself. She told herself. Ike was still making his point at this time.

"Think of how our races would feel towards each other if they saw that our children are just as normal as everyone else! A child is a good thing." Ike finally finished, leaving Lethe to agree to his statements. There was no stopping his logic, when he finally got into stride. But her reasons remained firm why they could not be together.

"I agree with you on that point, but I am sorry. I cannot risk your death just to satisfy our desires." She growled at him, but he merely remained as stubborn as ever.

"I won't stand by knowing that at any time one or both of us could be dead, and we would have wasted a perfect chance. No, I will fight for this, to prove myself to you." Immediately, Ike stood up so forcefully that Lethe's grip was torn from him. He issued his challenge to her.

"We will see whose will is stronger. If I win, we give our love a shot. If I lose, we leave it alone and do not speak of it anymore. Agreed?" Immediately, Lethe was in a conundrum. If she did not accept, her honor was in jeopardy and she would be seen as a timid weakling. If she accepted and lost… she may end up killing the one she loved. There was only one option: to win.

"Alright, Ike. If I win, you promise not to push the subject, at least until the war is over." Lethe stood to face him, and for the longest while neither moved. Lethe had to win, for the sake of her commander. For the sake of Ike, the man she had come to love.

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Ike stared Lethe down, wondering if he had the strength to do this. He had just woken up from resting, and now he was about to fight a laguz that had beaten him twice before. But his heart would not stay his hand. Ike would win, he had to. The combatants settled into fighting stances, and neither moved as they studied the other. Lethe's legs and arms were bent, preparing for powerful leaps at her opponent. Ike's own stance was fluid, his arms and legs not necessarily bent but not straight either. His father had taught him to fight like a stream, flowing ceaselessly and gracefully from one position to another with rapid speed. In his focus, he completely ignored all outside factors and focused on Lethe. Her orange tail was swishing back and forth behind her, the catgirl's vest hanging tightly to her furry frame as a slight wind rushed past. Ike had left his cloak in the hospital, and he was grateful for one less thing to take off. He needed to be swift as the wind, sure as the stars, and omniscient as the benevolent Ashera herself to give himself victory. Finally, the silence had dragged on long enough.

"Alright, let's see if you can match me again!" Ike shouted, sending his body flying at her with more speed than he had ever shown before. Lethe had only time to dodge the attack, but Ike had seen this coming. With a swift motion, he spun around on the ground by a hand, trying to take the laguz's feet out from under her. Again, she had jumped away, but Ike would not give her any time to come up with a strategy. His momentum carried him back into a running posture, and he ran at her even faster than before. Ike used an open palm to feint to various points of her body, and was blocked successfully every time. He waited for her to block a left handed thrust to her chest before he finally took action. As she pushed his attack out of the way, he let his momentum spin him completely around to push her with the back of his arm. Ike's touch was gentle, but still caused her to fall to her knees. Without hesitation, he leapt onto her and pinned her to the ground. His knees were on her chest, his arms on hers. This hadn't even been hard, but the real fun was about to begin. Stealthy as a cat, she transformed and threw him off with feral ferocity. Ike nimbly rolled to the side as he landed, and settled back into his stance. The cat stared at him, begging him to attack.

"Heh, do you take me for a fool, Lethe? Very well, I'll use your own tactics against you!" Ike shouted as he ran at her. The cat lunged in midair at his chest, but he rolled under her like he had always done. As his legs hit the earth he catapulted himself into the air, to avoid the catgirl that had just tackled the air under him. Lethe rolled on the ground, slightly winded, and Ike saw his chance. As he landed, he pretended to leap at her, which caused her to dodge in preparation to pounce like she had done the previous times. However, Ike had wizened in the time he had spent fighting her. He leapt at the tree right behind her, using it as a springboard to catapult himself right at her as she finished dodging the attack that never came. In a rough tumble, they rolled in the grass until again the victor was on top. Ike wiped his forehead on the sleeve of his tunic as his knees stuck into the chest of the cat, Lethe. It had been an exhausting battle, but he had been victorious. Lethe seemed surprised most of all, rather than angry. Ike looked away in regret as he did the right thing.

(You do not have to read this. It contains scenes that are best left unsaid, and much is left partially to your imagination. If you read, you may find yourself thinking of things that you'd rather not, and seeing things you would rather have burned from your memory. Reader beware: you have been warned. I expect no flames from reading the rest of this point of view. You choose to read, you live with the consequences.)

"You don't have to do this, Lethe. I would understand if you walked away right now. But I'm asking you, give me a chance. You know I would give my life to save another, and you know that I would give my life to save you. I want to take my chances with you, but I refuse to do anything against your will." Ike finished, and stepped off of the cat. He stepped back a few paces, and waited for her to rise to her feet. For a second after she finally did, there was naught but silence. Suddenly, after a lightning quick orange blur passed in front of his vision, Ike found himself pinned to the ground under her, her front paws on his chest and her eyes glinting with a mix of pleasure and amusement. They seemed to say, Alright, you asked for it. Lethe leaned in closer to his face, and he could feel her warm breath on his cheeks. Ike's arms remained motionless, as he allowed the laguz on top of him to do whatever she pleased. She leaned in closer, and for a second he thought that she would kiss him in her cat form, which was slightly confusing to him. But her head moved to the left of him, and after a second he felt a tiny spot of pain on his left shoulder. Had she just bitten him?

"What the-?" He began, before the weirdest sensation took hold of him. Lethe's jaws darted back to the forefront of his vision, and he could see a golden drop of liquid remaining on her right canine. In seconds, he felt primal strength surge through his body, and he began to writhe in agony. It felt like something was crawling out of his skin, and after a jolt he realized that that was what was happening. Once he had begun to relax and allow himself to be led by his baser self, the transformation began to take place. Blue hairs began to enlongen from his arms and legs, and his nails began to grow into long points like claws. His ears began to ring with many sounds he had never heard before, and he could feel his canines sharpen and his other teeth grow. His blue hair grew as well, and it was almost as if he himself was becoming a laguz. But this wasn't it, this was merely the adjustment to his primal form. Finally, after the sensation faded away, Ike's thoughts and consciousness took a backseat as his instincts took over. Lethe had not changed, but he could see it in her eyes that her mind had fallen into dormancy as well. Through the screens that were all that was left of their senses, they could almost communicate with each other as their bodies watched the other's carefully. Lethe's eyes read a message to him.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

You haven't killed me yet.

Emphasis on yet.

C'mon, do you really believe that you will kill me?
I've done it before.

Wouldn't surprise me if you had.

It's odd… my counterpart is usually either dead or screaming in agony by now.

Well, the screaming part could come later, but probably not from agony.

Har, har. You're a riot you are.

I pride myself on it.

!!

Whoa!

As they had been communicating, their bodies had suddenly connected with an alarming speed. Ike found Lethe's body licking him behind his ear, while he began stroking her back. It wasn't long before Ike found himself on top of her after a violent roll to the side, as he started licking her in the same way she had been licking him. Her tail had wrapped around his back, pulling him closer to her. He could hear her growling turn to soft purrs of pleasure, his breathing begin to shorten into similar gasps, as they both followed their instincts at the same time. Ike's body sat up and he could feel himself push inside of her, Lethe's abnormal concoction driving him to derive animalistic pleasure from the experience. Their eyes connected for another second, and Ike got another chance to talk to her.

Whoa! What did you do to me?

Your body does not go feral like ours do. I gave you a taste of what it is like to be a laguz.

Was that what they were injecting into the other laguz?

Sadly, yes. My fellow cats are the only ones capable of producing the serum. Many must have died to create those foul substances.

We shall have to eliminate their source.

Together.

As one.

Just like right now.

Their eye contact broke once again, and Ike found himself rolling over onto the bottom once again. This time, Lethe began to lick the fur growing on his abdomen, for indeed he had been growing fur. The serum was immensely powerful between them, as Ike's body began to growl once more in pleasure. With another movement, Ike was inside of her yet again. His fortitude amazed him in this form, as he was able to continue long past when his old body would have quit. Vaguely, out of the corner of his vision, he could see various juices glistening on the ground where they had been. Lethe's body looked into his eyes yet again, and they were able to speak.

Wow, I never thought beorc could do this sort of thing…

Not without your help, of course.

Makes me wonder what you're like without the stimulant.

We'll have to figure out soon enough, won't we?

I daresay we will, Ike. Are you enjoying yourself?

Ike had just pulled her body close to him, his nose burying itself deep into her orange coat. Even through the haze that separated him from his other senses, he could smell her animalistic scent, and it intoxicated him even in his fully rational mind. After a few seconds, he released her and their eyes exchanged another couple messages.

Completely. Are you?

More than I thought I would. How is sex usually between members of your own species?

A lot more sick and perverted than this, let me tell you.

Do the females like it?

Sometimes more than the males.

Their conversation was cut short again as she flipped him over onto his back with one swift motion. Ike could feel his tunic being ripped open in the back, and suddenly her rough tongue was running up and down his spine. He could feel himself shivering slightly, even dulled as his thoughts were. After seconds of what could be described as pure animalistic ecstasy, he flipped his body over, and once again he was on top of her. Her lick-like massage had gotten the juices flowing within him, and their eyes were able to connect again while he was inside of her. Ike could vaguely feel what it was like through the haze, not completely foreign but different enough to change things up.

Well, this is certainly very fun. I would have thought that I'd have stopped by now.

Heh, I still can't believe I'm still going. Your serum is quite powerful. Plus, it feels nice to talk without words like this.

I wonder how bad we have damned our child…

Relax, I am sure everything will turn out for… the… oh shit…

What?

How long does it take before the first signs of pregnancy hit?
Fuck, you're right… Um, I honestly cannot remember how long it takes… All I remember is that it's about three or four months for them to be born…

Three or four?! It's nine for beorc!

I said that as a mix between the two. Cat laguz are born after two.

This is not good… I have to win the war, kill Ashnard and the Black Knight, and reorganize Crimea and Daein in two months…

And that's only the start of your troubles…

They finally stopped after Ike had fully unloaded himself, and he fell to the ground where they had ended up. Lethe's body walked over to him, licked his cheek, and cuddled up next to his warm body heat. As they began to fall asleep, their forms reverted back to normal, mostly. Ike would probably retain a heightened sense of hearing, smell, and taste for a while to come. He probably would no longer care who was cooking if it was meat. Even Mist's meals would be ravenously gorged upon by Ike now if they had meat in them. Their minds returned to them, but they had already drifted into slumber. The clearing was a complete mess of bodily fluids and flattened grass and a small patch of blood, but neither really cared. Ike and Lethe were together now, and that was all that mattered.

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Soren sat at his desk, reviewing yet again the supplies and monetary status of the group. The same figures darted through his eyes as had done for the past hour, Soren going to great lengths to analyze, decode, decrypt, and categorize the information on the scrolls. There was so much here, it could keep Soren busy for days on end. After memorizing yet again the wisest course of action concerning Mia and Oscar's deteriorating weapons, he decided to re-inspect the fascinating scroll that Ike had found. Finding it with much difficulty among his various parchments, he pulled it out and reviewed its contents. Surprisingly, they had shifted yet again.

Ike, Lethe: A

Titania, Rhys: B

Boyd, Oscar: A

Oscar, Boyd: A

Lethe, Ike: A

Rhys, Titania: B

Rolf, Oscar: B

Oscar, Rolf: B

Boyd, Rolf: C

Rolf, Boyd: C

Mia, Rhys: C

Rhys, Mia: C

Fascinating. It seemed to him that the scroll was tied to their party by some sort of spell that could sense their relationships between them growing. Soren found it odd that Ike and Lethe had deepened their bond so quickly from C to A, in just a matter of a day. Suddenly, their names and rank glowed for a second, and Soren was forced to shield his eyes from the glare. As it faded away, a new letter had taken its place: S. This was strange. The only possible way they could be getting a deeper bond was if they were together, and Lethe had run off… Soren smacked himself in the forehead as he realized that Ike must have left his chambers. With a rush, he ran to the infirmary to confirm his suspicions. Both Ike and Lethe's beds were empty, Lethe's left exactly the way it had been when she left. Damnit, Ike! Stop running off like this! He checked the parchment again, just in case it could tell him where they were. To his astonishment, there was now a large + sign next to the S.

"What the hell are they doing, having sex?" Soren muttered to himself. As if it were responding to him, another + sign appeared right next to the first. Glaring at the parchment, he realized that it was mocking him.

"Har, har… Very funny!" he snapped. "Just because noone would want me, you feel you must torment me like this. Well, mark my words! My patience can only be worn so far." Soren warned at the parchment. Suddenly, another set of names appeared on the list.

Soren, my ass: Kissing.

He growled dangerously. Apparently, this parchment had a very profound sense of humor. Soren was on the verge of letting lose a Meteor within the room and damn the consequences when he heard a voice behind him. He turned to find a girl his age, with a dark burn-like mark on the side of her arm. She seemed a little shy and timid as she spoke.

"Excuse me… Are you Soren?" Soren was surprised that anyone would have bothered to learn his name, much less seek him out. Thinking it was probably some girl on an errand, he asked her for her business.

"Yeah, that's me. Do you have a message, or new information that could be of use to us?" He started, and the girl merely smiled and shook her head no. Soren was confused as to why the girl was here, and waited for her to elaborate. After a few awkward seconds, she did.

"I'm Lea, and a voice in my head told me that I'd meet you here. It also told me to tell you that you owe it one, or something." She said strangely. Soren raised his eyebrows, before his eyes quickly darted down the list. Sure enough, down at the bottom their names had a C next to them. Right below his name, a small message was written in fine handwriting.

You're welcome. Have some fun for once in your life.

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Well, it's over. Review. Please, review. This is my first fire emblem story, however not my first in total. I want to hear from you! How did I do? Did I get a piece of information wrong? Was I not descriptive enough in certain places? Or did my writing just suck? Or did you love it? I thrive on your reviews people! Especially since there are so few Ikexlethe stories like this. You people give me the desire to keep writing, so LIGHT THE SPARK!

Also, i neglected to mention this originally: I will most likely post an epilogue to this set about a year later. (war will be over.) I will definately be encouraged to write this if I get good reviews, but I will not be so petty as to force you to review in order for me to write it. That would just be stupid. So review if you want it to be written faster, but you will evenatually see it either way. All you IkexLethe fans, light those keyboards on fire and review your hearts out!

IGM, over and out.