Title: A Slow Thaw
Day/Theme: June 15 : Thermodynamic miracles.
Rating: G, probably.
Summary: It had barely been two weeks within Daein's borders and Soren already despised the place. IkeSoren.
A/N: 30_ways / #24 - Snowfall Jeez it was cold the other morning. This feels connected to Reverberation, but maybe that's just the setting it's currently in. Timeline is post B support, pre A support and conquering Nevassa.
1. To change from a frozen solid to a liquid by gradual warming.
2. To lose stiffness, numbness, or impermeability by being warmed: left the frozen turkey out until it thawed; thawed out by sitting next to the stove.
3. To become warm enough for snow and ice to melt.
4. To become less formal, aloof, or reserved.
It had barely been two weeks within Daein's borders and Soren already despised the place. Even the coldest winters in Crimea never went to this bone-numbing degree of utter cold. The land seemed shrouded in perpetual winter, and the current point was not even at its coldest. They had begun their plan in late fall, Of course, the most sound tactical move would be to wait out the winter, then begin the plan of attack on Daein, but Ike would hear none of it. They marched straight through the icy winds, potential frostbite be damned. War waited for no man.
There was a tear in the corner of his tent, and no matter how tightly he curled in the blankets, the chill slipped in. He'd spent a night of constant tossing and turning and shuddering.
Soren clutched himself tight. The gloves he'd brought from Crimea with him were far too thin and he could barely feel his fingers inside them. The numbness left him clumsy and bereft of his usual dexterity. The papers shuddered in his hands along with Soren.
He had a thought, a simple thought of reptiles and rocks the sun to heat cold blood. So maybe he was just as full of ice as those snide comments made it out to be.
Soren shook the thought off. Preposterous. The cold was getting to his mind and the lingering shock of the grave knowledge he'd uncovered in Begnion.
Still, even if he were reptilian, there was no sun to steal heat from now. Daein's skies wore of thick woolen coat grey clouds.
The hearth was left cold and without flame. Soren could see his breath in the room. Frost tapped at the window with its designs, the cold begged to be let in. It would be a waste to light them simply for the few minutes there, so he simply suffered in silence.
Soren pulled his arms closer to try and keep what little heat he had close to himself. He counted down the moments until the welcome interruption of Ike's voice would come. Waited until—
"I-I'm here," Soren said. His teeth chattered treacherously, and beyond his own honed sense of control this was an insult to himself, his limts and how easily they could break.
Arms enfolded him. A cloak wrapped about both of them.
"If anyone sees they'll misinterpret."
"And?" Ike said.. "I don't care about the rumor mills. They'll always find something to overanalyze."
Soren sighed. He began thawed under Ike's touch. Ike's hands enclosed his own, and feeling came back with them.
"Your hands are freezing," Ike said.
"Daein," Soren said bitterly, "Is a worthless place."
"You can say that again. At least this isn't setting up tent in the snow like last time. I hear even some of the men are bedding up together."
"Rhys and Rolf, Kieran and Oscar, Lethe and Jill," Soren said, "As well as Janaff and Ulki, but they shared tents to begin with."
"Lethe bedded down with a Beorc?"
"It seems even she can learn. Surprises never cease."
"Yeah. Who knew?" Ike said. He paused a moment, as if a thought had caught him, and began slowly to enunciate the half told secret between them.
"Huh...It must have been this cold before, back then..."
Ike didn't state exactly, but Soren knew. Ike hadn't pressured him for the last part, but he knew. There was a trace of concern, the kind of concern that would wait for Soren to come to him.
"Daein is colder," Soren said abruptly. He turned his face away. Even starving and cold, sleeping on doorsteps in rags wasn't as cold as this.
Soren allowed himself to lean back against Ike. Only slightly, and not quite as he wanted. If he had his way, he'd turn in Ike's grasp and rest his head against Ike's chest.
As it was, Ike had his arms wrapped about him, embracing him from the back. It was a tempting place to remain, to tarry and waste time simply so to remain warm and safe here. Ike would likely not notice even if Soren pulled something so uncharacteristic.
The cold was stealing his self control along with his logic.
"Bed down with me tonight. You know you can't take the cold," Ike said low and soft. It might as well have been a siren's song.
"My tent is torn," Soren said. "I got very little sleep."
`"You should've mentioned it earlier. You could've crawled in with me, I wouldn't have minded."
"It only happened last night. I hadn't the chance."
"Then fix it this night."
Soren said nothing.
Ike rubbed his hands over Soren's to warm them.
"Sheesh, it's freezing in here. Why didn't you light the hearth?"
"It would be a waste of the tome. We won't be here long enough to justify it–"
"Waste it. It's alright."
Soren sighed. "If you insist."
"I do," Ike said.
Soren broke away from the warm solace of Ike's cloak and bent before the ash-colored and covered gap of stone. Soren focused and let a spark, then a larger flame form within the hearth. It came to life, revived.
Ike sat within the only chair, a large maroon padded armchair that must have belonged to the captain of the previous army to reside here. Ike's cloak was arranged around him like a blanket.
"Sit," he said.
"There isn't another chair," Soren said.
Ike patted his lap.
Ike opened his cloak and Soren did as he was told. The cloak enfolded over them.
"Now isn't that better?"
"This is a great deal of trouble for a report that will likely take less than five minutes to complete," Soren said.
"It's early. Everyone expects me to sleep late anyways."
"And what are we to do within this time?" Soren said.
"Well, we could relax. And talk. Or you could get frostbite and waste a use of fire tome if you prefer."
Soren sighed. He knew Ike was grinning behind him, teasing him like this. Ike always won in the end. Soren rarely even put up a fight to begin with.
Ike's stomach grumbled. He flinched.
"I should've gone to the kitchens and gotten something before I left. Still, it's too warm to get up like this...."
Soren twisted to reach within his pouches and withdrew some recently stored strips of cured meat. They were smoked with fruit and nut pieces, along with a combination of meats woven together like a rope. Ike was especially fond of this, despite his usual preferences falling to the simplest dishes possible. His experience with Begnion's diet had nearly gotten them all killed more than once, but by then, Begnion was won over by Ike as well.
At least the constant freezing temperatures meant that there was little fear of food spoiling. Freezing and bursting the containers or being rendered uneatable without a campfire, but not rotted.
"Mm, thank you," Ike said. "You're always prepared, eh?"
"Yes. As much as possible."
There was just the sound of Ike chewing loudly, and nothing of the talking. He supposed it was a blessing.
Still, it rattled inside him. When Ike had finished, there was no more stalling. The silence had frostbitten at the edges and turned black. Any longer and it would be gangrenous.
"You wanted to talk..." Soren said.
"No," Ike said. "I wanted to listen. You still have half a story to tell, and I know it's eating you inside to tell."
Soren couldn't bear to tell to tell the secret of his blood. Not yet, not now. He bowed his head and shook it to cast away the constant fears that clung there, just under the surface.
"I'll tell you something, but not that, not yet..."
So in the heat and the shelter of the cloak and the room Soren began to spin a tale. A tale of looking and finding, a story of sleeping in churches with someone else's name.
He left out the most important part: the motivation, but it was a passable enough telling. Dry, overly concerned with mundane details and overly concise, Soren read himself out like a ledger.
Ike munched on the cured strips and added nothing. He just listened, without judging or adding to the story told. Frost tapped on the windowpanes, insistent, asking. The cold had been beaten back there. Even if the most important secrets had not yet been told, soon those two would come to light. But for now, it was a droll, ledger-tale of an orphan boy and his unnamed sojourn through the lands.