After that, their travels continued once more. It seemed each town they passed continued to get bigger and bigger, and Ike theorized that there indeed was a kingdom on Elysius somewhere. It was possible that they chose to seclude themselves from the outside world, which would be why they hadn't attempted to find out if there were outside continents before then.

"It still doesn't make any sense that they're avoiding contact with Begnion," he mentioned, Ragnell over his shoulder. "You would think that contact with other lands would make them happy."

Volug grunted from next to him, keeping pace near the beorc. "Ah, why am I even wondering?" Ike continued, sighing. "Not like I can read minds. I'll never understand what those in power are thinking." It was all so strange to him; why avoid contact with Tellius?

Eventually, he decided that it wasn't their problem. They were just there to explore, not get them to talk to the powers back home.

The two continued to traverse the land together, their bond deeper than it was before. To Ike's surprise, Volug insisted on traveling beside him in his beorc form, despite the dangers it might have brought. It certainly made the tedium of traveling a lot easier on Ike, now that he had someone to talk to on the way. Volug seemed more at ease with him than anything, and Ike was surprised with how easily the wolf seemed to smile around him. I guess this journey is making him open up more, Ike thought.

However, on some days, Ike got this weird feeling coming from the wolf. At times, he'd catch the wolf giving him an unreadable stare, and whenever he asked what was wrong, he wouldn't get a straight answer. Sometimes when Volug was in wolf form, he'd stare at Ike for a long period of time, as if he were sizing him up for something. It definitely perplexed Ike, but since he didn't get a straight answer out of him the first time, he decided to drop it. Volug would tell him if anything was wrong anyway.

When Volug insisted on a sparring session one morning though, Ike got his answer, and things between them went even further.

Ike bit back a grunt of pain as Volug slammed into him, throwing the wolf off of him and hitting him with the broad side of Ragnell. He felt an odd satisfaction when he heard the wolf whimper a bit, but the laguz quickly recovered as he crouched low, looking ready to pounce anytime.

Briefly, he wondered how the sparring session went so awry. It had started out light, but then Volug had started to get a bit...rougher with his attacks. It wasn't as Ike didn't mind at all, because he loved the extra challenge, but at some point their spar turned into a battle of sorts, and neither of them were going to back down. He knew he had to ask Volug why he was attacking him so fiercely, but that time wasn't now, because the wolf was running at him in preparation for another strike.

I wonder what's gotten into him? he wondered to himself as Volug leaped at him again, this time his mouth open. It really felt like he was fighting seriously. Grunting a bit, he managed to push away Volug's mouth with his sword, causing the wolf to stumble a bit from being misdirected. He followed up with another strike with Ragnell, causing Volug to yelp and leap away after being hit. Ike smirked, but it didn't last long as the wolf shot into him again, and he groaned as one of his claws swiped his chest. While it wasn't enough to rip his shirt, the impact of it sent him stumbling back.

Volug then continued his assault, knowing that giving Ike an inch of room was all he needed to strike back. The beorc grunted as the wolf continued to scratch at him, his fangs extended as the wolf pressed his advantage over him. Guess he really has learned a lot by sparring with me, Ike thought with a small amount of pride. But if he thinks he'll get the better of me, he doesn't know what he's in for. With a mighty heave, he sent the wolf careening back. Just as Volug was regaining his balance, Ike was already on him, brandishing Ragnell as he swung it at the wolf.

For some time, it continued this way. One of them would find a way to press their advantage for a while until their opponent countered, and then it would continue all over again. Whenever Ike would try and strike at the wolf, Volug would use his agility to dodge each blow. Whenever Volug tried to ram into him, Ike would hold him back using Ragnell and throw him back. It was fairly even for both of them, and for a while, neither of them would know how the match would turn out.

It ended when Volug stumbled at the last second during an assault, a slight injury that Ike had inflicted earlier making him pause. This was all Ike needed to slam Ragnell into his side, causing Volug to whimper again as he stumbled back. Ike remained in his stance, breathing hard as he stared at the wolf. Is he down? he thought, continuing to stare at the wolf.

Finally, Volug got up as he turned to stare at Ike. For some reason, the beorc got the feeling that he didn't want to fight anymore. His suspicions were confirmed when Volug reverted to his beorc state, kneeling while panting heavily. "I submit," he gasped, bowing his head.

"Huh?" Ike responded, somewhat taken aback. He was just giving up?

The tanned man nodded. "Exactly as I said. I submit," he repeated, giving a small smile at the astounded beorc. "I can't win at the moment."

Ike blinked. "Er...okay," he let out, scratching his head as his arms slumped. That had been a rather exhausting sparring match. "Care to tell me what that whole thing was about?"

"Well..." Volug began, his tail swaying. "Can I...erm...can I tell you when we get to the inn?" he asked, looking nervous. Ike raised an eyebrow; it certainly wasn't like the wolf to look like that. "It's pretty important."

Ike shrugged. "Okay," he agreed, sighing. "Man, you've gotten really good. I haven't had a fight like that in a while."

"My sentiments exactly," Volug remarked with a nod, slightly limping himself. "A shame we don't do it more often."

"Maybe it's because I'd like to keep my arms intact?"

"And I'd like to keep my fur. That sword of yours keeps cutting off too much of it."

When they reached the inn that night, the soreness from the fight had nearly faded away, and Ike was ready for a good rest. Volug had been hitting him harder than he expected, and he rubbed at his chest gingerly. There was probably going to be a bruise there later. His attention was diverted when Volug entered the room, and his nervousness had been quite obvious to him.

He knew what was making the wolf nervous was the reason why he was so serious in their sparring match. He made sure not to ask Volug about it before now, because he knew that it would probably only make Volug's nerves worse than they were right now...which was saying quite a lot. But it had to be said sometime. " said you were going to explain about earlier this morning?" Ike finally asked, raising an eyebrow.

Volug coughed a bit as he kicked off his sandals, frowning a bit. "Yeah...I suppose I should, huh? I mean, it also involves you, so it isn't fair to keep it from you," he sighed, sitting down on one of the beds while facing Ike. "I wonder how I'm going to start this..."

"Maybe the beginning?" Ike offered, getting a snort from the laguz.

"Fine," Volug acknowledged, crossing his arms. "Back in Hatari, we have this custom among the wolf laguz. It's fairly old, and from what Queen Nailah had said, it existed before the Great Flood," he started, his violet eyes not leaving Ike's gaze. "This custom is very special to us. It is meant to show the strength of the relationship and the bond between two partners."

Ike stared at Volug, having a vague idea of what Volug was getting at. "And you're saying we just did this 'custom' of yours?" he asked seriously, close to frowning. He would have liked Volug to have told him about it.

The wolf saw the frown forming on Ike's face and held up his hands to placate him. "I know, I know. I should have told you. I just got...nervous," he explained, getting a sigh from Ike. "Anyway...the custom also has both partners dueling each other. It's meant to show the deep respect they hold for each other by facing each other as equals on the battlefield. I just had the idea that if I told you, some part of you wouldn't have taken it seriously. I know that you don't like this sort of thing, after all."

The blue-haired man really did frown this time. "Volug, had you told me all of this beforehand, I definitely would have taken it seriously," he protested, meeting Volug's unflinching gaze. "I respect your customs enough to do them, after all."

"But I'm not finished yet," Volug told him, getting Ike to pause. "The final part of the custom" The laguz blushed a bit, trying to keep a straight face. "Ah...I can't describe it. It's a word in the ancient tongue that we use. I think there's something to describe it in the modern tongue, though."

"Okay..." Ike let out, having a very weird feeling on where the conversation was going to go. "What is it?"

Volug took a deep breath and mouthed something to Ike.

The beorc's eyes widened. "Mating ritual?" he asked in shock. "Are you serious?" When Volug nodded, he had to rub his forehead, suddenly feeling a bit woozy. "I can see why you didn't tell me beforehand," he remarked.

"When the two clash, the victor of the duel is acknowledged to be the dominant one in the relationship," Volug continued, the blush not leaving his face. "As such, everyone considers them to be mates from that point on. The dominant one is the one that everyone else address by name, and the other is acknowledged as their mate."

Ike blinked, taking all of that in. "'re saying it's almost like marriage," he remarked dazedly. "And're my wife. Or husband. Or something."

"I wouldn't exactly put it that way," Volug pointed out, bristling at the very suggestion that he would be referred to as Ike's 'wife'. "It's viewed as an honor to be seen as a powerful warrior's mate. In fact, some wolves pride themselves on being mates instead of the dominant force. They know they were defeated by someone superior to them, and take no insult at losing. But, as you put is somewhat like what you beorc call marriage."

Ike just stared at him for a few long moments. "And you did this without telling me," he remarked flatly.

Volug cringed. He knew he had messed up, and he knew Ike was certain to get angry about it, but it wasn't until he actually started to explain the whole thing that the full implications struck him. I'm dead, he thought sullenly. "Yes," he replied, his nervousness coming back.

There was a long silence between them before Ike let out a sharp laugh, snickering madly. Volug stared at him in surprise, unsure on why the man was laughing.

"So...let me get this straight," Ike finally started as his calmed down. "Without knowing it, I just had this mating ritual with you this morning, and I won. And because of that, we're pretty much married in the eyes of your tribe, and you're going to be seen as the 'Mate of Ike', right?" When Volug nodded hesitantly, Ike chuckled again. "Wow. I wonder what Soren's going to say when I tell him that I got married to you without even knowing it. He'd probably say that I was dumb for not knowing about it beforehand. Mist will probably think I got drunk or something."

"You're...not angry?" Volug asked tentatively, somewhat in disbelief. This wasn't how he imagined Ike taking it.

"Well, a little bit," Ike shrugged, holding Volug's gaze within his own. "Even had you told me all that beforehand, I would have still gone through with it...although I think I would have needed a bit of thought on that first," he explained, smiling gently. "But I guess you've wanted to do that for a while, huh?"

"...yeah. I have," Volug answered, nodding. "I wanted to do this ritual months ago, but I couldn't work up the courage to do so. Now..."

Ike reached across and pulled Volug closer to him, holding the wolf in his arms. "It's fine. Had I known about it earlier, I would have taken your feelings into consideration," he said soothingly. "I'm sorry for keeping you waiting for so long."

Volug chuckled. "And I'm sorry for hiding it from you. Apologies accepted?" he asked, and he got a kiss in response to that.

Their kiss this time was just as slow as the previous times; full of gentleness and love, and a symbolization of their closeness. It had never gone beyond that,since neither of them actually had the inclination to take things further. But tonight, Ike felt a lot more adventurous with all that Volug told him. Perhaps it was the fact that he had won their little duel and was considered the dominant person, but it just felt like Volug had given him permission to do anything he wanted with him. However, he would very well stop if he felt the laguz was uncomfortable in whatever he was doing, not wanting to hurt the other man.

Absentmindedly, he trailed one hand through Volug's black hair, his fingers running across the wolf's ears and around the back of them. Volug audibly gasped at the sensation, Ike pausing in what he was doing to glance at him. " that again," he managed, gulping. When the beorc's fingers trailed over them again, he could help but groan softly. He had never imagined someone else touching his ears and the places around them would feel so good.

Ike captured his lips again as his fingers rubbed lazily through Volug's hair, pleased at the small sounds coming out of the laguz's mouth. Feeling a bit more daring, he trailed one hand down to Volug's front, brushing a thumb over a nipple. The tanned man leaned into his touch with a slight gasp, throwing his arms around him as their kiss deepened. His tail was drooping, brushing against Ike's leg as if it were urging him to do more.

Encouraged by the sounds Volug was making, he teased one of nipples between two fingers, rolling the nub between them before brushing his thumb over it again. He could hear Volug's pleased moans into his ear, and it just kept urging him on. How would his, his lover, his mate react to other things? The thought excited him as he licked at the laguz's jawline, trailing kisses down it.

Volug took a deep breath as he fisted the back of Ike's shirt. "Why are you the only one still dressed?" he murmured, tugging impatiently at the garment. Ike chuckled and conceded, pulling away briefly to shuck his shirt off, tossing it away from his body.

"Maybe it's because I'm the one actually wearing clothes," Ike teased, getting a playful scowl from the laguz as he drew Volug back into his arms. He let his hands wander down the tanned man's body, his fingers trailing over Volug's abs. He always admired how well-defined they always were, and feeling them underneath his fingers just drove home how built Volug was in his beorc form. As the laguz shuddered from his touch, he smirked. "I wonder how you keep your body like this."

"Shifting takes a lot more work than you think," Volug responded, taking in sharp breaths whenever Ike's hands brushed over certain places of his skin. Not wanting Ike to do all the work, he brought his own hands up to tease Ike's nipples, getting a pleased groan from the man as he rubbed over them with his thumbs. Looking thoughtful for a moment, Volug then slightly pulled away from the blue-haired man and lowered his head as he took a tentative lick at the nubs, and Ike moaned a bit louder, running his hands down the wolf's back. Volug decided he liked the sounds Ike was making and decided he wanted more as he started to suck at one of them, getting Ike to gasp.

As the laguz was teasing his nipple with his teeth, Ike groaned continuously as his hands wandered Volug's lower back until it reached the base of his tail. Hesitating, he gently ran his hand through the fur of the tail, rubbing the appendage lightly. When Volug gasped sharply and arched into him, he knew he had done something that the wolf liked. "Ike...!" he gasped, and the beorc continued to rub his tail.

"Very sensitive place?" Ike inquired, still running his fingers through the fur.

The laguz gulped and nodded. "Very," he answered back, unable to keep a moan from escaping his mouth as Ike drew him back into a kiss, this time slipping his tongue into his mouth. The wolf was unable to resist as Ike's tongue explored his mouth, and he could only moan in pleasure as Ike continued to gently stroke his tail.

When their hips grinded against each other, both of them gasped as they stared at each other. Volug was certainly hard; it was difficult not to be, consider all the stimulation Ike had been giving him. The beorc was in the same situation, having been turned on by the wolf's moans and actions. Swallowing a bit, Ike's blue eyes met with Volug's violet ones, a serious gaze in them. "Do you really want to do this?" he asked quietly. He didn't want to force the laguz into anything if he wasn't comfortable with it.

"You ask that at this time?" Volug snorted, but the blush on his cheeks told him everything. "Yeah. Keep going."

Ike needed no more confirmation as his hands lowered, immediately unhooking the cloth that wrapped around Volug's waist. As it fell to the floor, he started to slowly slide the wolf's pants off, taking care not to snag his tail. Volug shifted his tail carefully as Ike slid his pants off, sighing in relief as the garment finally fell to the floor. As Volug stepped away to kick them off his feet, Ike got a good look at his now-naked lover. "You really are beautiful," he murmured.

Volug paused, turning to stare at him. "You think so?" he asked, blinking slowly. Something about the way Ike said it made him feel warm inside. "You aren't too bad yourself, I'll have you know."

"Oh really?" Ike asked with a raised eyebrow, pulling Volug back over and closer to him. "I'm not bad, you say. I guess you have really high standards," he teased.

The laguz chuckled. "And you're the highest of them, too," he murmured as he pressed himself closer. He gasped as he felt Ike take his cock into his hand and massage it, lightly pumping it. Some sort of low whine came from his throat as Ike held him closer, panting as he felt his hips start to buck into the grip Ike had on him. So good... he thought hazily, throwing his head back.

Ike felt himself harden even more as Volug reacted to his ministrations. He had absolutely no idea that such a thing would turn him on so much, yet right now..."Volug..." he whispered, his voice sounding a lot deeper than he was used to hearing. "I want you," he murmured huskily, the situation having overtaken his senses as his other hand went to his belt, quickly unfastening it.

Volug nodded, just as dazed. Everything was so hot, and he was so hard at that moment that he would do anything to get off. As Ike's belt came off, his own hands quickly lowered to unfasten the pants, pulling them off as Ike groaned, his own erection freed. Volug couldn't help but lick his lips as he stared at it; it was certainly big, and from the way Ike was looking at him, he imagined that he was very hard.

Ike then pulled Volug down to the bed with him, and they both gasped as their erections touched, this time without any clothing in the way. Volug hesitantly rocked his hips into Ike's, moaning as pleasure washed over him. Ike bucked his hips up to continue the motion, causing him to groan lowly as his erection twitched; it had felt a lot better than he ever thought it would.

For a short time, they continued to grind against each other as they kissed again, this time more sloppily and needy. At last, Ike stopped them as he grasped Volug's shoulders, looking out of breath as he tried to think of what to say. "Not like this," he finally gasped out, panting heavily. "Further. Let's go further."

It took a bit to register what Ike wanted, but when Volug finally did, he nodded. " you have anything to make it easier?" he asked lowly.

Ike looked thoughtful for a second before he reached over and grabbed his satchel beside the bed, digging through it before he got out a small flask. "Salve for my hands for after training," he said, cutting off the laguz's question. "It's safe."

Volug nodded as he slowly rolled over, moving his tail so it wouldn't be crushed underneath him. Ike chuckled as he coated his fingers in the substance, looking up and down his lover's body. "You look way too hot for your own good right now," he remarked, trailing a finger down to Volug's entrance. "Far too hot."

"And you don't?" Volug bit back sarcastically before gasping, feeling the slick finger enter him. It definitely felt weird as he felt his insides clench down around it. There was pain, sure, but it was dulled when Ike gently rubbed his side with his free hand in a soothing gesture, and it somehow made him feel better.

As Ike added a second finger, he watched intently as his two digits were moving in and out of Volug's hole. Despite what people thought of him, he actually had an idea on how sex worked. His father had, albeit embarrassingly, explained it to him when he was younger, and Titania had explained it in further detail when she thought he had grown enough. Stories from various soldiers he had overheard during the war had managed to paint it in even greater detail, far beyond what either his father or Titania had told him. As for the male sex, the one he hadn't been informed of before, he had actually paid attention to what several drunk cat laguz were saying fairly loudly one night during the war, the feline laguz unable to keep their mouths shut after too much drink. It had been...very detailed, much to his embarrassment, and he managed to gather that it worked similar to one with a woman.

Only right now, as Volug arched and moaned in great pleasure from his fingers scissoring inside of him, it was far better than anything else in the world. It was all he could do to not shove himself into the wolf at that very moment, his cock aching horribly. Having just about enough, he pulled his fingers out and nearly dumped the rest of the salve over his erection, stroking quickly to slick it up. He nearly hissed as he forced his hand to squeeze tightly; he didn't want to come yet, after all.

Volug watched with a lecherous look, and it took all his willpower to keep his hand from his own aching erection, Finally, Ike decided that they were ready, but stopped as he spied the wolf's tail laying between Volug's legs. He didn't want to accidentally crush it under him, which would hurt his lover; no, there had to be another way...Smiling, he crawled to the head of the bed and sat up, leaning against the wall. "This will work better," he announced, motioning the wolf to come closer. "This way, I won't accidentally hurt you." Volug was confused until he saw Ike give a pointed glance at his tail, realizing what the beorc meant.

"Thanks," he whispered as he moved himself closer, taking in a sharp breath as Ike helped him up and over his erection. Volug knew exactly what Ike wanted, swallowing a bit. Lifting his tail, he slowly lowered himself until he felt Ike's head at his entrance, pushing roughly until it slid in. The sudden burst of pain was staggering, but he grit his teeth as he stilled, refusing to let the pain stop him.

Ike watched Volug's expression carefully, looking concerned. He had heard about how much it would hurt the first time, and he was unable to grasp what the wolf might be feeling. "Are you okay?" he asked with a worried tone, biting his lip.

"I'm fine," Volug grunted, taking a deep breath. Ike definitely was bigger than he expected, but he could take it. "Just give me some time."

The blue-haired man nodded, willing himself not to thrust up into the tight heat. It felt so good around his erection, but he couldn't very well continue if it caused Volug pain. He'd rather hurt himself than to do that. Finally, after a few minutes, Volug finally lowered himself until he had taken all of Ike within him, sighing in relief. Ike threw his head back and took a sharp intake of breath, the feeling almost overpowering.

Slowly, Volug began to move back up, almost whimpering at not feeling Ike within him. The beorc gripped the wolf's hips to steady him before helping him descend on his erection again, groaning in pleasure as the heat settled around him again. Managing to settle into a slight rhythm, Volug allowed Ike's hands to guide him back up before he thrust back down, picking up speed with each thrust.

It was only when something inside the wolf was hit that he nearly howled in pleasure, spots dancing in his eyes. "Ike!" he moaned, the feeling of the beorc deep within him making him moan. It was just too much, and the feelings it was invoking almost made him lose himself in the pleasure alone. He didn't care about pride or anything else at that moment; all he wanted was the man in front of him to continue to make him feel like this.

Ike moaned as well, gritting his teeth as he continued to impale Volug on his erection. The tight heat around it was becoming too much, and the thought of holding out longer was ludicrous to him. "Oh goddess...Volug," he moaned, throwing his head back. It was just too good, and the way Volug was looking at him...the way he wanted more from him made him shudder. "Volug...!"

The wolf's tail was brushing against his legs, and somehow, it made everything seem more intense. Unable to keep his thoughts straight, one of his hands went straight for Volug's erection, grasping it and pumping it quickly.

That was all Volug could take. Between Ike hitting that spot within him to how careful he had been with him, the attention on his cock was too much. "I...Ike!" he sputtered, crying out as his orgasm hit him. He came all over Ike's hand and chest, his vision going white as he spurt all over his lover's front.

As Volug clenched down around him and looked so breathless as he came, Ike found his own climax happening, shooting up into Volug before he could even say anything. As he spilled within the wolf, he pulled the semi-conscious wolf down and bit lightly at the juncture of his neck and shoulder, getting another low moan from the laguz. At last, when he had fully emptied his load within Volug, he collapsed on the bed, tired beyond anything. Breathing heavily, he helped the laguz off of his softening cock, not paying any mind to anything that leaked out of his lover's hole as it spilled upon the bed.

"Love you," Ike breathed, pulling Volug with him under the covers. That had been the best experience of his life, and he was truly grateful to whoever led him to the person next to him. "Love you so much..."

Volug caught his breath as he heard the declaration of love, the first time they had actually voiced it. "I love you with everything I have," he found himself saying, not even bothering to hide what he truly felt. "You're everything to me."

They said no more as they curled up together, their exhaustion finally catching up with them as they slept soundly.

The next morning, sunlight shone in through their window as the sun rose into the sky, shining down upon them as they laid in bed.

Ike groaned lightly as his eyes fluttered, finally opening them as the sunlight came into contact with his face. Wincing, he shielded his eyes for a moment as the events of last night began replaying in his head. The spar that had ended up being a mating ritual, the confession, and then...Ike blushed. I don't think I'm ready for a second round yet, he thought in embarrassment, last night having taken a lot out of him. Still, it felt incredibly wonderful, and to experience that with Volug...

Speaking of the wolf, Ike looked over to see the wolf curled up next to him in his beorc form, which amazed Ike. Volug always slept in his wolf form, sleeping at the edge of the bed whenever they slept in an inn. But right now, there was a content smile on the tanned man's face, his ears flat against his skull and his tail poking out of the covers. Unable to keep from smiling himself, Ike slowly tousled the laguz's hair, getting a slight groan from Volug. "Hey, Volug. You awake?"

The laguz struggled to open his eyes for a few moments before they opened, blinking slowly. "Ike?" he whispered as he sat up, throwing the covers off of him. Ike blushed again as he saw Volug's exposed front, as well as the mess from the night before. Volug followed his gaze and blushed as well, taking a deep breath. "We...we just mated, didn't we?"

"I'd say so, or were we just having sex last night for no reason?" Ike asked sarcastically, getting a chuckle from the wolf. "Volug...that was wonderful. I can't explain how it felt last night."

The wolf cocked his head. "Like we were connected? More than physically, of course," he added quickly, seeing the blush deepen on Ike's face. "I felt it too. It made me feel like this is the best thing I could have ever decided to do in my life," he sighed happily, offering a smile at the beorc.

Ike smiled. "Yeah. For that last few months...I've been the happiest with you," he admitted, staring into Volug's eyes, which shone with an inner sincerity. "With what you told me last night, it made me feel all the more connected to you. I'm happy to have you as my mate."

Volug raised an eyebrow. "I believe that's my line," he said dryly, getting a chuckle from Ike. "You know how I was talking about how it was an honor to some to be a mate to a powerful warrior? Well...I believe I've been granted the highest honor of them all," he said with an honest smile. "I'm the mate to the savior of Tellius, and the one who taught me so many things."

Ike didn't say anything, drawing the wolf into his arms and kissing him gently, rubbing his hands down his back. "I love you, Volug."

"And I love you, Ike," Volug responded, pressing his forehead against Ike's. Now that they actually said it, it felt like they were connected in a way he had never thought possible. And he wouldn't give it up for anything.

For a long while, they just laid in bed as they stared at the ceiling, needing no words to convey. Just like before, they knew how the other felt, only this time, it was far more personal. "Hey, Volug?" Ike suddenly asked, looking over at the wolf.


"I thought you didn't like laying in a bed like this. You said it was uncomfortable," Ike mentioned, holding the wolf's hand in his.

Volug shrugged, giving Ike a smile. "Before, probably. But now..." He then moved closer to Ike, snuggling his chest. "I found it feels much better like this. So much better."

Ike grinned. "You know what? You're right," he mentioned, stroking Volug's hair. "It does feel a lot better like this."

And from thereon, every morning Ike would wake up with Volug laying right next to him, his arms around the tanned man. It was probably the best thing he could ever wake up to.

As the months passed, Ike smiled as he looked at the clear sky. So many things had happened in the past few years. He had traveled to Hatari and learned the ancient language, he taught Volug the modern tongue, and then the two left together for a journey to an unknown continent. Along the way, their bond strengthened and turned into true love, and he could never remember a time where he was happier being around the wolf. After that, they seemed to have been mired in many adventures, each one testing their strength and their bond, but they overcame them. In fact, it only made their connection that much stronger.

Having seen enough of Elysius, and having finally convinced whatever kingdoms there were to send a messenger of peace to Begnion, Ike felt he was ready to return home to everyone. He wondered how many things had changed back on Tellius, and if any new lands had been discovered while he had been away. It would certainly bear looking into.

"What do you think about paying all our old friends a visit?" he asked Volug as they traveled along the path, looking over at his companion. Volug had changed a lot since their first meeting; he was no longer looked so guarded around him, and the smiles he gave to him made him feel happy. And while the laguz was a bit overprotective of him at times--especially in battle--it was just a testament to how deeply he felt about him.

"That sounds nice," the wolf agreed, walking closer to Ike. "I wonder if my Queen migrated the inhabitants of Hatari yet."

"Probably not yet, but she'll be able to do it," Ike remarked, raking a hand through his blue hair. "I wonder how everyone else is doing. Hope the peace is doing good for them."

Volug shrugged. "I'm sure it is. Besides, I'm sure everyone around the continent has calmed down now that you disappeared from sight."

"I sure hope so. I hate being looked upon as some sort of saint," the beorc muttered, prompting a laugh from the wolf. " know what? I just thought of something."

"Oh?" Volug asked while raising an eyebrow. "I sure hope this isn't anything like what you thought of while we were in that kingdom."

Ike shook his head, a light blush on his cheeks. "Of course not! Besides, I'm not the one who moaned loud enough to attract the guards," he pointed out, Volug's face flushing crimson. "Anyway! Since it's probably calmed down...I was thinking that being a mercenary again for a short while would be great. What do you think?"

Volug looked thoughtful. If there was one thing that Ike held a special place in his heart for, it was being a mercenary. "I think that sounds pretty good," he remarked, a smirk on his features. "Although they'll have to hire another one in tow."

"Heh. Think you can pass the test? It's pretty hard," Ike mockingly warned, his own smirk matching Volug's.

"I can pass any test," Volug stressed, taking Ike's hand within his own. "There's no obstacle too great, remember?"

"Indeed," Ike sighed happily. The past few months had been wonderful indeed. "Although Shinon will probably want to skewer you."

"That sniper? Oh, I'll just eat his bow. No big deal."

"In that case, I'm more than sure that you'd be invited to join us," Ike laughed, putting his arm around Volug's shoulder. "But even if you weren't...I'd still be with you."

Volug smiled. "I know. I'll be with you too."

Ike then claimed his lips in a kiss, gazing deep into those violet eyes. "My mate," he whispered into Volug's ear, having remembered all the times he had the wolf tell him about the customs of the wolves.

"My lover," Volug replied back, gazing back into Ike's blue eyes. "I am yours forever."

"And I am yours as well," Ike breathed back, taking Volug's lips once more.

What had begun as his calling in life being destroyed ended up turning into something that he wouldn't give up for anything. And heaven help those that would get between them.

Final note: And that's the end of this fic. I had fun writing this, and I thank SRG for betaing for me. She made a lot of improvements that I wouldn't have thought of.

I accept any type of review, so if you have something to say, whether it is concrit or not, I'll appreciate it.