Title: This Modern Love [6/6] (epilogue)
Day/Theme: 9. 22 . take a bow
Series: FE 9/10 AU
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Modern AU. Past meets present as Soren finds out the finer aspects of enforced blind dates and carpentry by-proxy. Surely, his life isn't going to be the same. Eventual Ike/Soren
Author's note: Long trip, eh? But there's more of this verse, and in fact I'm posting another modern AU (and going to update Frost Fair sometime...really.) So see you then? Here's hoping!

VI. Throw Your Arms Around Me.

Skrimir had been in a funk ever since the news came out. And that just wasn't cool. Actually, everything Skrimir had done to win Soren hadn't been cool, so this was just the final cherry to the top of the failcake.

"He loves someone else," Skrimir moaned.

"Yeah, yeah, funny thing– I'm not sure how that happened," Ranulf said. He might as well have whistled innocently and crossed his fingers behind his back – not that Skrimir would've noticed.

"Someone else," Skrimir said again as he took another spoonful of Ben and Jerry's. He had a stackful of DVDs, which meant the horror had started – he was going on a Meg Ryan Romantic Comedy binge.

Ranulf plucked the delicious, yet extremely fattening icecream from him. Or at least, he tried. A tug-of-war match ensued, and Ranulf only worked by shouting look over there, a cranky librarian! which Skrimir always fell for. Ranulf helped him out by finishing it off. It was just that sort of kindness that he specialized in.

"You've got to get out of this slump, man. How about this, we could go out clubbing, though you'd have to actually change out of that shirt and..."

Skrimir looked up. He was beyond miserable.

"Fine then.. Plan B: uhhh, we distract you. We could take a jazzercize class or kickboxing."

Skrimir groaned and sunk into the couch. The couch had taken more than a few beatings. There was, in fact, mysterious clawmarks over the armrests that Ranulf remembered the genesis of. What could he say? Skrimir really took The Gallian Tigers losing personally.

"You've got to get out of this! You're a pretty cool guy, eh. Pretty handsome and doesn't take shit from anyone. Why are you letting some cranky librarian get you down? There's plenty more fish in the sea!"

"His tactics. The way he shelved books...his frown..."

"No – no. We are not doing this. This is lame, and you are not lame. Generally," Ranulf said. He took Skrimir by the shoulders. "Now as your assistant-slash-secretary-slash-whatever, I say you need to get out. And I am going to do whatever I can to work with this."

Skrimir groaned. "Not interested in nightlife."

"I'm saying you should date me already," Ranulf said.

Skrimir frowned. "You work for me."

"I've dated people I worked with before. There was that time with Lethe! ...and then she realized she was a lesbian. Well think of it this way, there's no physical way I could turn you into a lesbian."

"You are rather little..." Skrimir said, wavering thoughtfully.

"Maybe compared to you. Besides, dontcha like them little? Soren isn't exactly going to win buff, manly man of the year award."

"You're sure you won't regret this?" Skrimir queried.

"I regret a lot of things. Most of which are related to you. Might as well put them together for ease."

.

The condemning of Ike's building might have only been a surprise to Ike himself. The building looked worse than the cars parked in front of it, and that was saying something.

"Ranulf offered me a spot," Ike said.

"You're moving in with me," Soren said darkly.

"That fast already? What, have you dated like a week?"

"Eight weeks. Besides, being with you would be a bad influence," Soren said.

"What about Ike, does he get any say in this at all?" Ranulf said.

"Sorry, Ranulf. I think boyfriend trumps best friend in this respect," Ike said.

"Aw, man. But think of the beer bong parties we could have," Ranulf said.

"That's precisely why I'm insisting that he move in with me and not you," Soren replied coldly.

"Seriously, bros before hoes."

Soren glared.

"It'd be quieter," Ike said. "And he won't drink my beer and eat my ribs."

"That was just one time! I had the munchies. You know how catnip makes me," Ranulf protested.

"Do you really think it'd be a good idea to have Skrimir and Soren in close contact that much of the time?" Ike said, showing rare insight.

"He might relapse to his earlier condition," Soren said. He didn't wait for Ranulf's response, but went to the kitchen, as his kettle was shrilly whistling.

"Go enjoy your honeymoon, you crazy kids. I'll drop in for beer and chips, of course," Ranulf said.

"I think we'll have to move the football parties to somewhere else. Tibarn's house, maybe?" Ike said.

"Dude, you are so whipped," Ranulf said. "What, does he pull the the no-nookie ultimatum?"

"The what?" Ike said.

"You know, the 'no sex ever unless you do what I say' shit?"

"Er, what?" Ike said.

"Wait, what. You mean he never...?"

"I don't even know what you're talking about," Ike said.

"So that's why he's irresistible to you," Ranulf said. He gave Soren a loopy grin and thumbs up when he returned with tea.

"I'd suggest that Reyson and Soren have tea together, but I'm not sure the world would survive," Ranulf said. "It'd explode in a bomb of bitchiness."

"I think they'd get along," Ike said.

"That's the point," Ranulf said.

.

Soren's apartment was too small. Everything about it, from the stooped doors to the sheer fact that Soren's room was too small to put in a queen, or king sized bed. The couch was too small, and thus slated for some Salvation Army place, since Soren hated wasting anything which could still be used.

Ranulf and Boyd had helped with the boxes, while Ike and Tibarn did the actual moving. Soren brought very little except the necessities, and of course, his books and the large bookshelves which covered almost every wall. Ike didn't bring much more. His apartment always had that college bachelor look, with orange crates stained with the preternatural colored cheeto dust and spots from where beer cans had toppled over during especially vigorous victory dances and chest bumping during touchdowns.

The apartment was scuffed up, more so than Soren would have liked, but the rent was cheap, and such things could be fixed. There were no rodent or cockroach infestations that Soren had seen any evidence, and no leaks he had found as of yet. In their first night there, they had the unfortunate discovery that their neighbors were insufferably loud, especially when it came to acts of love, but that was what happened with apartments. (Ranulf had suggested to simply outdo the noise. This had prompted Ike to tell more about their noise, or lack thereof than Soren really deemed necessary.)

It was adequate.

As it was, only a bit of their things were unpacked, and the place was littered with boxes, mostly containing books. The necessities were unpacked, the phone installed (though Soren insisted he could do without drunken calls from some of Ike's friends). The heat here was better than Soren's, though staying close to Ike may have had a factor in changing that.

Soren had no papers due, and Ranulf had been too busy partying with Skrimir to spend much time with Ike (other than drunken calls consisting of a lot of "wooooo!"). Tonight was simply theirs, as a quiet night spent in.

Ike waved as he came in with a bag of take-out and something black and square under his arm.

"I got some food and a movie for tonight," Ike said.

"Thank you," Soren said. He leaned up on tiptoe for a kiss – they were still a bit awkward on these coupley things but it was sweet, and most of all, he could taste if there was waxy traces of lipstick.

It wasn't that he didn't trust Ike – he did – but he didn't trust anyone else not to try anything, because certainly they had. Heather was about the only woman who hadn't made a pass at Ike when they were out, which didn't help his innate paranoia. There were no traces of lipstick, though a slight trace of perfume. To be fair, women tended to cling to him when he was working in the hardware store.

He looked up to Ike. "Perfume?" He said tersely.

"New divorcee who wanted to cry on my shoulder. She had that stuff sprayed on so thick I was gagging, no wonder the guy ran away with 'commitment issues'. I'd run away too if I couldn't breathe around her. Oh and she groped my ass, too."

"Bitch," Soren muttered.

"I told her I was taken, like I always do," Ike said with a half-smile.

"Good," Soren said. He let it rest, otherwise he'd be in a bad mood all night over the overly forward, overly perfumed divorcee who'd managed to cop a feel of his man. Instead he took the movie out from Ike's arm.

"The Princess Bride?" He read aloud with mild surprise.

Soren expected Die Hard 2 or some other testosterone filled movie involving cars exploding, but he was surprised to find some sort of a medieval fantasy, possibly a tongue-in-cheek one.

"Did Mist pick it out?"

"Nope, she's out visiting an old friend in Daein. Besides, everyone loves The Princess Bride."

"If you say so," Soren said.

The strange quote which he later to be found from an archaic role playing game, the Aruthurian mentions...the trip to the Renn Faire. if he didn't know better, he'd think that Ike had a particular hobby involving medieval times – to near geekish extents.

Not that Soren minded.

"You're not going to like Buttercup, though. I bet you'll spend the whole time raging about how she didn't make some brilliant plan to rid herself of the trouble and save the guy in the end."

Soren raised one eyebrow. "Are you implying that I identify with her as I would the damsel in distress in this situation?"

"Well, if you were you would've made some plan and gotten out long before I came to rescue you. In fact, you'd probably be sitting there, tapping your feet and going 'You're late' after I beat the final boss."

"Perhaps," Soren said. He turned away, slightly, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

"You're smiling," Ike said.

"I am not," Soren protested. He broke into a poorly concealed cough behind his hand.

"Even better, you're laughing. I knew you had it in you."

"I'm not," Soren protested.

"Yes you are. I saw you."

Ike pulled Soren's hand away. "See? Smile."

"Fine, you caught me. It won't happen again."

"Hmm. Not happening again, huh? I'll have to work on that," Ike said.

He leaned down for a kiss which Soren eagerly returned. When the kiss ended, it turned into another breathy kiss as if they'd been away for months and simply a day. They smiled and looked to each other a few seconds before Ike found his way to the takeout package.

"I was waiting for you to eat," Ike said. "It was a bit hard to, though."

"You shouldn't have waited," Soren murmured as he opened up the square little package of Goldoan rice and vegetables, with chicken and probably copious amounts of sodium and monosodium glutamate. Takeout never really captured the feel of true Goldoan food, but then, with their isolationism, it was hard to get anything but pale imitators.

Soren, being half Goldoan had tasted it at its finest, deemed it 'tolerable' and said as much.

He thought maybe he'd get recipes from his mother. Of course, she was too aristocratic to ever set food in a kitchen, but it'd give him something to discuss other than what a horrible son he was for not calling fifteen times a day like Pelleas.

He could cook passably, as it was a simple issue of following directions and having the correct ingredients. He'd surprise Ike with a real meal one of these days. He thought about filing away rib recipes as well. But only when he wasn't knee-deep in papers to be written, of course.

"You know, I don't really like going out, maybe a bit of sports with the guys but I was never into clubbing. Ranulf had to drag me when I went, and it really wasn't my scene," Ike said. He had a piece of rice at his cheek and Soren absently leaned in to brush it away and ate it himself.

"Me either," Soren said.

Of course Soren's idea of an enjoyable evening involved Le Morte D'Arthur with a side of Tennyson and Milton while Ike's involved Monday Night Football. But there were always compromises, always things that intersected. Ike liked being read to. It was something his mother had done in the old days, when she wasn't making up the stories herself. When she was still alive.

Ike set aside his container and patted his stomach in contentment. The rapidness in which the food was gone was no surprise as Ike was a fast eater when he was only slightly hungry, and when he was extremely so, well...the food seemed to disappear of its own accord in the space of two blinks.

"What did you have planned today?" Ike asked.

"Reading. Le Morte D'Arthur I thought you were working late."

"Oh, you mean Arthurian tales? My dad used to love him. Something about being named for them or other."

"My brother is named after a pathetic knight who was used by a woman and then discarded. A poor choice for he seems to reflect his character," Soren said.

"Ah, I remember that one. Kinda, at least, it's been a while."

"Pelleas and Ettarde," Soren said. Incidentally, Ettarde sounded like the kind of girl his brother would pine hopelessly for.

"Sure, there's nothing on anyways. We don't have to take the DVD back until Wednesday."

"It won't take too long to read a section. Then we'll watch it."

Somehow through it all, there was a compromise to be found. Ike nuzzled against his neck, his hands resting against Soren's shoulders.

"I thought you were going to listen to me read?"

"I can multitask," Ike said.

Soren doubted that, but there would always be later to finish the chapter. There was no hurry.

~fin