Scooter: This is not going to be a happy story, people. This is a Fire Emblem fanfiction that is centered around Soren. It's set during Path of Radiance and is heavy Ike/Soren FRIENDSHIP!!!!!!!!! I do not - and never will - support the Ike/Soren pairing. Unless it's friendship. This is a horror story, and it was not RPed like the two previous stories have been. Oh, and please forgive me if I happen to mess up on something. I haven't played PoR or RD in awhile so I might not be completely accurate in everything. ((laughs)) Anyway, here's the summary:

Set during Path of Radiance. One night, Ike is awoken by muffled cries and whimpers from the tent he shares with Soren the Sage. He discovers his friend in the deep throes of a nightmare and he learns some of Soren's deepest and darkest fears.

Scooter: And this: These are dreams. And these: These are thoughts. Anyway, third FE story. Third FE story centered around Soren. And this is a one-shot. Oh yes, this is also rated M for brief torture scenes. Since writing torture is not my forte, it isn't very good (thank heavens). I guess you could say that this is a personal venting time for me. Please enjoy!!

Why Do You Care?

The night was still and silent. Well, as silent as you can get with a single lone fire crackling in the night. It crackled happily as Ike - the new commander of the Greil Mercenaries - talked with Tibarn - the King of the Hawks - on their next battle plan to go up against the Black Knight and Ashera.

"So, if we split our forces and I take my team up on this side, your team could take them from the other side?"

Tibarn nodded at the blue-haired boy who had grown so strong over the months and looked down at the map, then back up at Ike. He instantly noted how tired the boy looked. He was so young. And yet he was pulled into a war that he probably could have backed out of long ago. "Ike." The mercenary looked up at the King.

"Hm?" he sounded in confusion. It was obvious that he was trying hard not to let his fatigue show.

"Anybody can tell that you are about dead on your feet; go to bed, Ike. We can continue preparations tomorrow. We'll be resting tomorrow as well."

Ike scratched his head. "Yes, I guess you're right. Thanks for taking the time to stay up and plan this far with me, Tibarn." The Hawk King nodded.

"Of course, but now we both need our sleep. We will not be useful at all if we are worn out come tomorrow."

Ike laughed. "Of course. Good night, Tibarn."

"Good night, Ike."

~*~*~*~

After Ike left the fire (Tibarn had put it out, the crackling of the flames being replaced instead by a sizzling sound), he went just barely into the trees and relieved himself before he trudged back to the camp and quietly pulling the flap of the tent open. He looked at the other occupant and smiled slightly.

Soren lay on the opposite end of the tent on his bedroll, his back towards the young, teenaged mercenary. His old, black robes were hanging on a wooden chair, seeming to look dejected and lonely. "Ah, now he wears the purple and black robes. The robes of a Sage. He was always so fragile and frail. I'm honestly surprised that he's lasted as long as he has." Ike smiled at the sight of the pale Sage sleeping peacefully, and moved over to his own bedroll, unrolling it and removing his headband. He removed his shirt then, and rummaged around in a sack he kept next to a small wooden desk. He pulled out a white T-shirt and pulled it on, then removed his boots and pants. He slipped on a pair of flannels (I have no idea if those exist in there, but oh well, they do now), and snuggled under the covers of his bedroll, dropping off to sleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.

But had the young man examined Soren a mite more closely, he would have realized that the Sage was not sleeping peacefully. His face was twisted into a look of pure and utter agony and horror.

X~x~X~x~X

"No! Please release them! I'll do anything! Just please let no harm befall them! They have done nothing to you!" Soren screamed, his hands bound above his head as tears streamed from his ruby eyes and down his pale cheeks. "Father! Please stop this madness!"

King Ashnard merely laughed and struck Soren across the face. "You are correct, half-blood scum, they have done nothing to me. However, it will give me great pleasure to know that I am causing you pain by harming them."

Soren looked passed his father to the figures on the ground.

Ike. Ranulf. Mist. Titania. Boyd. Oscar. Tibarn. Naesala.

"Please . . ." He whimpered,his body trembling.

Ashnard moved over to the blue cat and pulled him up by his tail and flinging him towards the wall. The cat Laguz let out a yowl of pain and Soren opened his mouth to scream, but found that no sound escaped him. He could only watch as Ashnard brought out a Silver Dagger and raised it, bringing it down swiftly. . . .

X~x~X~x~X

Ike's eyes clenched tightly together and they loosened slightly as he groaned and opened his eyes slowly. He turned his head and looked over at the Sage with his eyebrows knitted. Did I hear something. . .? Or was it just a dream? He raised his head and rubbed at his eyes to clear them before he looked harder at Soren. His blue eyes widened as he noticed the frail boy trembling violently. In his rush to get out of the bedroll, Ike tangled his legs and got himself even more stuck. He froze a moment as he heard a small sound and he stopped, listening.

He heard it again.

It was Soren.

He was whimpering.

"Please . . . P-Please. F-Father . . . Don't hurt them. . . . They've done no wrong . . ."

Ike struggled up and finally made it out of the bedroll. He kicked the material away and stumbled over to the trembling Sage. "Soren?" He whispered, placing a gentle hand on Soren's shoulder. The Sage did nothing but jerk away from Ike as his hellish assault continued.

X~x~X~x~X

Tears were now streaming freely down Soren's cheeks and he tried to avert his gaze from the sight before him:

Ranulf was laying slumped against the wall, a dark red stain trailing down the wall from where Ashnard had thrown him, showing that the cat was bleeding from the back of his head heavily. This was further proved by the crimson blood pooling out and about Ranulf's lithe - and now broken body. All the others seemed to have vanished, leaving Ashnard advancing towards Ike, whose left leg was twisted at an odd angle and his eyes open and glaring defiantly at the ex-King.

"Oh-ho! So he still has some fight in him after all!" Ashnard turned to Soren. "This is your fault, boy! If you had refused Gawain and the boy's help in Galia all those years ago, then you wouldn't be in this predicament and they would still be living!"

Soren tried to yell at Ike for him to get up and run! But nothing escaped his throat except a muffled scream and a choked sob. Ashnared turned to the mercenary and raised the already bloody Silver Dagger, and plunging it into Ike's stomach. Soren tried to block out the agonizing screams, but found that he couldn't, just as he couldn't tear his gaze away from the sight in front of him. The sight of his best friend lying on the ground, writhing in pain, blood gushing from his wound, and tears of pain welling and dripping down his now-pale cheeks.

X~x~X~x~X

"Soren? Soren look at me! No, wait. Screw that - wake up first!" The blue-haired mercenary took ahold of one of the Sage's slim shoulders again. He could feel the Sage tremble as if he was outside in a blizzard, and he tightened his grip slightly. Ike had never seen the pale boy this frightened before. Not even when he and his father had found Soren in Galia, his face dirty, his clothes grimy, but his eyes burning bright with determination. He hadn't even seen fear on the raven-haired Sage's face when he, Ike, Oscar, Boyd, Mia, and Rhys had been outnumbered and nearly defeated at the keep.

No.

Soren was always calm, collected, blunt, and even aloof and Ike had always suspected that the younger male bore secrets. But he never thought that Soren bore secrets this dark. "Soren wake up goddamnit!!" He shook the Sage's shoulder - roughly this time - and had to lean back quickly as Soren rose, his slim chest heaving, his ruby red eyes wide with fright, and his lips forming words that Ike could not hear.

"Soren? Soren can you hear me? Please speak to me! Look at me! Anything!" The Thunder Sage turned to look at Ike in almost disbelief.

"Y-You're . . . You're OK?" he asked in a small voice that was not the normal, strong confident voice he was used to hearing out of the Sage. "H-He killed you . . . Father killed you . . . I saw it with my own eyes."

Ike moved from his crouched position and sat down, pulling the now weeping Soren against his chest, stroking the back of his hair, knowing full-well that if anyone came in right now, he would probably harm them greatly and anyone discovering Soren like this would devastate the Sage anyway. Besides. . . . Ike knew that he was the only one who could give this comfort to Soren.

"Shhh. He's gone. It's all right now, Soren. No need to worry." His heart broke as his friend - if not his closest friend - clung to his white T-shirt, his hands still trembling. "He's dead, I know, but he still haunts my dreams . . . no . . . those weren't dreams. He haunts my nightmares. He shuddered and his shoulders began to shake with quiet sobs.

Ike contented with rubbing Soren's back quietly. "Tell me what happened."

Soren instantly jerked up to look at Ike with frightened and surprised red eyes. "I-Ike. . . . he took you, Ranulf, Titania, Mist, Oscar, Boyd, Naesala . . ." He stopped talking and Ike had to gently coax the younger male to speak. He knew it would be hard for the male to reveal what had befallen him in this nightmare. But he had to try and get Soren to open up to him.

"Just let it out, Soren. I won't let it happen to you," Ike wrapped his hands around Soren's still trembling shoulders.

Soren peered up at Ike and opened his mouth slowly. It hurt him terribly to tell Ike this.

~*~*~*~

Soren looked up at Ike slowly, almost afraid of his friend's face. He expected to see pity, or hell, even revulsion. But no. He saw none of those things. He saw sadness and grief.

"Oh, Soren. Why didn't you tell me?"

"I . . . I though you would cast me aside. Knowing I was one of the--"

"Knowing you were one of the Branded?"

Soren nodded forlornly.

"Soren! How many times do I have to say it? I don't care if you're a Branded or not! I don't care that you were Ashnard's son! He's dead now, and you were nothing like him! You're my dear friend, Soren. And nothing less. I never have a moments regret of saving your life all those years ago."

The raven-haired Sage felt warmth prick the back of his eyes and he looked down in shame, tears beginning to spill out from his ruby eyes. "I-Ike. . . . Thank you. Thank you for caring."

Ike slowly embraced his long-time friend, smiling as the Sage sank into his embrace. Soren felt his heart lifting. Ashnard would no longer haunt his nightmares; he was free from the dark grasp that had taken hold of his heart for many years now. All because Ike cared.


Scooter: Well there you have it. I was in a slump for the past week, trying to figure out how the HELL to end this thing. ((frowns)) And I couldn't figure it out!! RAWR!! So don't complain that the ending was rushed: I KNOW FULL WELL THAT IT WAS DAMNIT!! ((laughs)) Anyway, reviews stop be from suffering from my fatal BPD disorder. ((smiles innocently)) Y'know? Bitch Personality Disorder? So please, review!! Flames WILL be used to roast marshmellows which I will then throw at Boyd.

--Scooter--