Title: Priceless
Fandom: FE 10
Character/Pairing: Ike/Soren, though fairly light by my standards
Rating: G
Summary: Behind every great man is a great tactician.
a/n: #19 - Humility for 30_ways / 2) I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. The Gauntlet / Poetry themetable. The original title was "Staff Officer, Tactician".

A (slightly late) birthday present to wetheril

Precisely because I do not have
the beautiful words I need
I call upon my acts
to speak to you.
-Precisely, Daisy Zamora

.

Soren woke early, just as every other day. He stoked the fire and put on a kettle of water. He was never hungry this early in the morning, but tea keeps him alert and gives some sustinance. He made enough for exactly two cups of tea and one cup of coffee. Soren preferred tea; Ike definitely was a coffee person.

It was tedious work to slog through the ledgers, but he had never once complained. There was a solace in the tedium, a place where the thoughts leave until there is nothing but the ascetic beauty of numbers. He could have had more. The Crimean, Begnion and Gallian nobility would've gladly taken him in. There could be great luxury, he could be the strategist to a ruler. He could control a whole country through a weak king. Through it all, Soren wasn't tempted in the least. The job of secretary had no glory. As tactician, it was his strategies that won the battles while Ike got the fame of a hero. It was just as it should be, for glory was fleeting; one country's hero was another's villain. He cared little for what people thought of him, for only Ike's opinion had merit in his eyes. The rest might as well be a bunch of hypocritical gossiping hens in his mind.

Soren's eyes scanned over the paper. His handwriting was short, neat and even stilted. Every part was concise, with nothing superfluous. He wrote this daily, the same marks, the same tedium. By now he could practically run the mercenary troupe in his sleep. They had a few clients today, nothing much. The life Ike had chosen was that of a poor country mercenary. ( Soren had never respected Ike more than the day he handed back his title and left the nobles and all their petty rules behind. It proved every single notion he had ever held about Ike. By far it equaled the day Ike had said it doesn't matter to me and sealed away all of Soren's anxiety of his blood for good.)

Nothing paid that well in this week's schedule. There was a small group of traveling vendors (with some minstrels traveling along) that requested a guard to escort them to Melior. (For even in a time of peace, there would always be thieves. Trying to erase the underbelly of the world was like trying to get rid of one's shadow.) He placed Gatrie and Shinon by that side. (A decision that was decided mostly on the pleasant thought of Shinon and Gatrie being far, far away for a long period of time.)

A man in a nearby village by the name of Shelby claimed his horses were disappearing. (A thief? A mountain lion? A good place to send Oscar, he thought. His horse needed to be reshod anyways. Boyd and Rolf could act as back up) The last was a woman by the name of Feena who requested Ike specifically to help her find her lost dog who had run off to the woods ( Soren highly suspected this was a flimsy excuse to lure Ike out to meadows for an attempt at seduction. They got at least ten of those a month. He always made them pay in advance and charged them extra just for their temerity to think they could tempt Ike away so easily).

His hand was poised to write the final margins when the door to his office opened. Even if he was deeply engrossed in work, the hinge made such a sharp creaking noise that there was no way he could be surprised. He kept that hinge unoiled for a reason.

Ike stumbled to chair nearest Soren's desk and rubbed at his eyes. He was not a morning person.

The drab sleeveless tunic he slept in covered very little. It was loose and open at the throat, and showed a large margin of his chest. Ike's hair was messy from sleep. There were dark circles under his eyes. A bad dream? A poor night's sleep? Or perhaps a first sign of illness? Soren made a mental note to research the symptoms in greater detail later on.

"Is there any coffee?" Ike muttered.

"Already brewed."

Soren stood and took the few steps to the hearth, Ike usually took at least ten more minutes to drag himself out of bed, so this was a slight variation in the plan he had formed. No matter, the drink would still be fine as it was. It merely meant that this day, it wasn't already laid out along with breakfast. The liquid was the color of muddy water, and smelled about the same. Ike preferred his coffee with a little milk, but otherwise no other sweeteners. Soren always brewed it at precisely the point where when Ike put it to his lips, it wouldn't burn him. (Ike never could be bothered to spend ten minutes waiting for it to cool.)

Ike yawned and stretched. His muscles flexed as he stretched back, completely. engrossed in the shaking off of slumber. Soren watched from the corner of his eye.

"There's nothing to worry about. I've prepared everything. You can take as long as you want with breakfast, I'll inform everyone of their duties," Soren said.

"Mm. Thanks. You know, it's amazing that you can prepare this all at this hour. In the mornings I can barely find the table, let alone map out the whole day."

Soren smiled, faint at the corner of his mouth. "I'm more attune to mornings than you are."

"You'd be even more so if you'd try some coffee."

Ike took a long sip and sighed in pleasure as the properties within provided the alertness he needed.

"It's vile tasting. Not even your vote can sway me that way."

Ike shrugged it off. "Suit yourself, but this stuff is the best. Tea is weak in comparison."

"It suits my needs enough," Soren said.

"Someday you'll see the light," Ike said.

Soren snorted. "I hardly think so."

"Anyways, since everything is all set, I'll go to get some breakfast. Want anything while I'm there?"

"I'll get it later," Soren murmured as his eyes flitted over the papers.

Ike leaned against the table, and stared down at him pointedly. "You sure?"

Soren turned his gaze back up to Ike. If it were anyone else, he'd be mightily annoyed right now.

"You're not going to let me alone until I go to eat with you, are you?"

"Not a chance," Ike said.

Soren put his papers away without another word. He supposed he could take a break to have another cup of tea with Ike. Ike would eventually wear him down and ensure he had at least a quarter of his eggs and several spoonfuls of porridge, for Ike could not imagine that anyone couldn't be hungry in the mornings. It wasn't that much different with lunch and dinner. Ike took seconds and a portion of those seconds went to Soren's plate. Every day it was like this, little changed except the menus and the seasons.

This was the life he had chosen, beyond riches or glory. This was his home. He'd take morning interruptions and a small, poorly furnished office for a group of impoverished mercenaries any day over the wealth of kings. All the treasuries in the world could not compare to this. After all, what was money or fame compared to loving every minute of his work? His tactics, his ledgers and plans were for Ike alone. And having a boss who he could truly love, truly believe in and trust with his whole being, that was priceless.

.

A/N: Because I could not resist:

New Elwind tome: 1330 gold
New Quills: 20 gold
New Ink and Inkwell: 50 gold
Fixing The Wall That Skrimir Broke...Again: 2500 gold
Banging His Gorgeous Boss Ike, Who Just Happens To Be The Love Of His Life Every Night: Priceless

There are some things that money can buy. For everything else there's Ike! :D