Yes, I'm writing yet another FE fic. One day, my name shall be famous throughout the fandom. As ever, there is a hint of Ike/Soren in this fic. You don't like it, don't read it. I haven't gotten any flames yet, and I don't intend to start now. There may also be some Stefan/Soren, though most likely only hinted, and most likely only one-sided. I don't own Stefan or Ike or Soren, or Fire Emblem in general. Yet. Kaz is my own character, but he's Branded, and so technically Intelligent Systems and Nintendo own the laguz part of him. I guess. Hm.

Anywho. This is my first time writing an OC into a Fire Emblem fic, and I hope it goes OK. The thing is that I sort of had to add my own characters in order to flesh out the colony, and I'll probably be adding a few more OCs as the story goes along, mostly just passing characters. You have my word, my promise, that on whatever honour I possess, these OCs will never be used to deliberately show up the actual characters, or to pair with any of them, or any of that. If you notice any Sue-ish or Stu-ish (Google 'Mary Sue' if you don't know what I'm on about) tendencies among them, please point it out so that I can correct it immediately. I usually despise OCs in fanfiction as they're written badly, are author-inserts, or distract from the actual characters. And I would hate to be a hypocrite, so please make sure mine stay clear of all that jazz.

Having said this, Kaz is set to be a bit of a recurring character, so you have to watch him especially in case he turns Gary Stu on me. I need him for the dynamics. Other than him, it'll be mostly Stefan and Soren. Hoorah! And feel free to point out if I mis-write either of those characters, too. =3

I was originally going to write this as a oneshot, then realised it needed a lot of development. Eventually, I decided to run it as another serial, alongside Sellsword and Ellipsis. So, it'll most likely be...10 chapters? Maybe even more than that. But the chapters will be fairly short, I think. Around 700 words. If you have a problem with this, review, and I'll consider changing it. Maybe. Anyway, I've talked for long enough. Onto the story.

"We need more meat," Kaz grumbled in sync with his own stomach. "Fed up of snacking on bread and plants. Need some crunch in my diet." He was reprimanded with a short, sharp jab to the stomach. "Ouch! Hey! No need!"

"Every need, actually." The older man looked down at him in disdain. "If you want meat, you're welcome to hunt for it. We barely have the funding for our usual supplies."

Kaz screwed up his face. "You're a jerk, Stefan. Hunt for it…Tch. What am I, a laguz?" He flopped down onto the sand, hitting it with a soft flump and sending grains of it flying into his dark hair. "Who put you in charge, anyway?"

"In charge of supplies, or babysitting pups like you?" Stefan smiled wryly before turning back to the paperwork in his hand and rifling through it with a grimace. He was talking more to himself than to the youngster, but still attempted to keep up some sort of conversation. On a blisteringly hot day such as this, nearly everyone was sat in the shade or holed up underground. With so few of them out in the open, temporary and unexpected friendships were formed. Beggars couldn't be choosers, after all. There were other Branded closer to their respective ages, but most of them descendants of bird laguz. Stefan guessed that this was what had drawn the youngster towards him instead. It was strange how the tribes seemed to segregate them even now. "We might be able to cut down on the amount of wheat we have to purchase, depending on how many of our own crops survive the summer… but that won't nearly make up for the extra supplies we'll need with all the newcomers." He shot an irritated glance at Kaz, who pouted.

"Don't look at me like that. If you keep a colony of Branded isolated for long enough, they're gonna do it eventually. It's not like I'm the first, or the last. It's been, what, fifteen years? I'm not a newcomer. All the newborns, they're the problem." Kaz rolled over, resting his head against the dunes. "And quit calling me a pup."

Stefan leaned over and ruffled the youngster's hair. "Newborns don't eat as much as you."

"Hey, gerroff!" Kaz swatted at Stefan's arm with no real force, then sat and glowered at him for a while. He fiddled with the sand around him, scooping it into piles and tracing lines through it with a finger.

Eventually, even Stefan became irritable, shoving the paperwork to one side with a sigh. "Goodness knows how Soren ever did this," he muttered under his breath.

Kaz caught the comment. "That the mercenary?" He yawned. The scorching heat was making him tired. "You need to get a new claim to fame. You've been prattling on about Ike and the mercenaries since I can remember, prolly even before that."

"Mm," Stefan said noncommittally. "I can't even remember how long it's been, you know. Spending time with pups like you makes the time go so much more slowly." He smiled at Kaz's scowl. "Sorry, pup, it's a habit."

"You did that one on purpose!" Kaz scrambled from the sand, brushing it from his shorts and shaking his head to free it from his hair as well. "I'm going inside. It's too hot out here." He kicked at the sand with the toe of his boot. "See you later, maybe."

Stefan didn't bother watching the youngster go. In the growing colony, there were too many faces to remember and with most, he simply no longer bothered even trying. New acquaintances were made on a daily basis. What was the point in attempting the foolish task of memorising them all? Had he taken the effort to look up, however, he might have chanced upon the distant figure on the horizon, making its way ever closer to the heart of the desert. To their home.