Title: Undercover In Corsets
Series: FE10
Character/Pairing: Dawn brigade, Tormod/Sothe. Minor hints of Edward/Leonardo and Ike/Soren
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Sothe got the short straw in the 'go undercover in drag' mission. But never fear, for Tormod is here! Tormod/Sothe.
A/N: comment_fic: Dawn Brigade, Sothe draws the short stick for "special surveillance" on a Begnion-occupied tavern 52_flavours: 43 ) A trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour.

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Sothe stared down at the short straw in his hands. He looked again through the others just to ensure that he hadn't read wrong. Another glance was all it took to realize he definitely got this job.

"Well Sothe, it looks like you get to wear this cute little lacy dress," Micaiah said.

Sothe glowered. They were being far too amused by all this.

"Really, It's not much different than what you wear all the time," Edward said.

"He's right, you know," Micaiah said in amusement.

"You're all sadists," he muttered.

"Hey, I was all for Leo getting the dress, he's a lot cuter than a frownyface like you. But Micaiah said that I'd have to just go save him since he's an archer and all and I said that was fine but..." Edward shrugged.

"Is that why he isn't here?" Sothe said.

"Somebody had to get supplies. And Nolan really wasn't going to pull it off a skirt."

Sothe stared down the shirt Micaiah held up. It had puffy sleeves and a lace collar at the neck.

"We need to get into The Pale Horse. You should know that district by heart considering all the time you spent there. We just need information, don't stay too long or you're bound to lose even more of your masculinity along the way."

"It's not funny, Micaiah," Sothe said petulantly.

"Sothe, if I didn't think you were capable I would have told you to stay. But you're fast and used to running from guards – and dressing in skimpy things. You're not reckless like Edward. I know you can do this and I know you can do it well. Besides, we'll be close behind you."

His frown didn't lessen, but Sothe sighed. Corseted, lacy, puffy blouse with a blue skirt it was.

.

A Begnion soldier grabbed the ass of one of the innkeeper and she shrieked. If this was Maddie of The Dragon's Tail he'd have been hit by a frying pan. As it was, this girl was relatively new, and with not half the spirit of Maddie. She just continued with her work

The lighting was dark in here, probably to hide the dingy floors, or simply that drunks by nature preferred the dim lights and places without mirrors where they wouldn't have to see their dirty faces or the squalor of the life they lived.

Begnion soldiers were almost all that dared to stay in here. The regulars had gone down to The Dragon's Tail, for even if Maddie was prone to smacking and pushing out any poor drunk to the cold, at least they wouldn't get a spear in the stomach. A pair of Snipers were playing cards in the corner, while a few Fighters talked near the front entrance. He'd have to sneak out the back should problems arise.

He'd waited until the captains had slipped in so he wouldn't have to mull about and have someone accidentally grab his balls. It'd be a pain if he got exposed before they even appeared. He didn't go out of the shadowy spot he'd crawled into the night before until they looked like they meant to talk business.

He smoothed down the skirt and adjusted his wig. It was business time.

Sothe slipped in as if he knew the place and took up a tin of grog. The soldiers were too drunk to notice and the girl was too much of a twit to say anything. They started a bawdy song about a girl with a patch on her snatch who was quite a catch.

If they ever made eyes like that at Micaiah, he'd slit their gullet before they had a chance to even blink. Sothe picked up a cup and started to clean it to make himself look busy. The cups were dirty, specked with bits of food and the smell of old alcohol. Apparently they hadn't been cleaned in a while.

"Hey girl! Gimme another!"

Sothe wanted to pour the grog on his head, but he settled for glowering and imagining slowly cutting the soldier apart. Sothe didn't bother to rinse the tin cup and began to pour grog down it. Years of being a street kid had honed his senses, especially his ears. From down the bar he caught something far more interesting past the drunken laughing and crude remarks about Daein women.

So Jeigan pass is it?

We've got sources that say they're holed up around there....Those do-gooders couldn't resist saving some hostages for sure, heheehh....

He listened for more, but the soldiers had looked up and noticed that there was now a pool of overflowing grog on the bar. One in particular looked at him and leered.

"So sorry. I'll just clean that up," Sothe muttered.

He pushed the pitcher aside and went to the back as if to get some clean rags.

He had no intention of returning.

He went through the dark corridors in the back and saw only a dozing drunk. Good. He opened up the last door and looked out. The coast was clear. He took a few steps out, meaning to run the minute he was sure when a voice broke through.

"Hey, aren't you a cute thing...what's your name, girly?"

Sothe flipped around and glared in his face. The wig of straw-colored curls was itchy, as if it were actually made of curls. He wanted to spit in the creep's face and then knife him in the cut like the cur he was. It had been one of the soldiers who had been speaking before. His pants was still unzipped, so Sothe guessed he'd been out for a quick piss, since there was no shrieking women to show evidence of fucking.

"Oh, a defiant one, are you? Then I suppose I'll just have to tame you..."

One elbow to the rib cage and he might be free from this alley and back to the rest of the Dawn Brigade. One knife to his throat would end it all.

Sothe felt the hard edge of a knife, and something else hard against his thigh. Apparently, this bastard had no intention of hearing a 'no.'

"You wanted me, didn't you girly? You were looking at me across the bar...looking so hard that you spilled your grog all over." He broke into a low laugh.

"Oh, women like to play that they don't want it, but deep down every no is a yes... and all their screaming is just a game in the end–"

His breath stank of drink. His teeth were darkened by tobacco and grimy. He licked his lips.

"Oh girly..."

"Hey! Hands off my girlfriend you creep!"

Sothe looked up and saw a angry not-quite-so-little-anymore mage. The wind blew his cape dramatically as he advanced. Even Sothe had to admit that one was cool.

"Oh, another? Well this just got interesting."

He drew the sword away. Sothe reached for his knife to get the fucker right in the back, that Tormod's smile stopped him. It was a smug little smile, a smirk.

Sothe knew it was time for him to jump out of the blast zone.

"Burn you creep!"

A fiery inferno spread. It must have looked like some judgement of the gods to the stunned soldier. Tormod really had improved in all those years. By the time Tormod was done with the second wave, the soldier would be little more than a charred body.

But the fires had spread, and trash and the roofs above were smouldering. They'd be incinerated in no time.

"Sheesh, still gotta work on that control. Teach is going to kill me."

Tormod shook off whatever apprehension he'd had and Tormod put his book away. He twirled about and snapped his fingers dramatically.

"Never fear, Tormod is here – dear."

Sothe rolled his eyes. "Your cloak is on fire."

"Oh crap, you're right—!"

Tormod stomped it out. He then returned to his attempt at being Brave, Daring And Suave.

"C'mon Sothette, let's get out of this place. I'll protect you!"

Sothe threw away the straw-colored wig and ripped the skirt. He hadn't worn the lacy underthings that Micaiah had suggested, but had kept with his own pants. That was one line he wasn't going to cross.

"You better run fast or I'll leave you behind," he said.

And then they were running through the darkened stone paths of the streets. Flames flickered in the distance, and a whole burning block provided a pretty good distraction.

"Where's everyone else?" Sothe said.

"They were ambushed on the way here, and she sent Yune to get me. That dang bird pecked my head all up before Muarim told me that it wanted me to follow it."

"What?! Are they ok?–"

"I suppose so. I didn't meet them on the way."

"We've got to hurry back to help them," Sothe said.

He focused only on the road in front of him. He wouldn't let the fear get the best of him.

They were almost at the gates by the time they stopped running. Sothe's legs were burning, aching and he gripped the side of the wall. Fear of not getting there in time, fear of losing his friends, his only family – all of it welled up inside him. Sothe pushed it down. He bit on the side of his cheek and focused only on getting back up.

"Sothe...Lemme help you."

Tormod took him by the arm. The look he gave him was tender, caring. Sothe didn't draw his arm away.

"I'm sure they're fine. They aren't going to get taken out so easily."

"I guess," Sothe said.

"..Sothe, I—"

Silver hair fluttered beyond the gates. He caught a bit of brown and gold too.

"Micaiah!"

He moved out of Tormod's grasp and hurried to meet her. He had almost never been happier to see her – except maybe the time when she left. She didn't have a scratch that he could see on her. A tight knot of fear finally let loose inside him.

"Sothe– I'm glad Tormod made it in time."

"I heard you were ambushed. Are you ok?"

"Nolan and Leonardo came back just in time to help us beat them back."

"Micaiah! You're ruining the romantic moment!" Tormod said.

"Is that so?" Micaiah smiled. "Were you going to try and kiss him?"

"Well – eventually –" Tormod said.

Sothe took a moment to catch his breath again. Seeing her again like that, seeing that everyone was ok again had nearly knocked the breath from him. He pointedly ignored the fact that it sounded like Micaiah was right about to start accepting offers for his marriage. (He almost expected her to start on that old 'dowry' joke. He kept those blankets because it got cold at night, dammit.)

"Well you've got a rival...but he's the one who destroyed Daien."

Her voice turned darker, and her lips curled down in disgust.

"–thus, it is of utmost importance that you win over Sothe before he gets seduced by this man's destructive ways."

"I'll work hard lots and take very good care of your brother!" Tormod said. "I won't ever let some Crimean – hey, that sounds like General Ike–"

Micaiah's face darkened even more. Her left eyebrow twitched in annoyance.

"General Ike, huh? He's my rival now! ..Though I think Sothe would have to fight mortal combat with Soren before that happened. Muarim said that Soren acted like he meant to be Ike's mate and he was scary. Once he caught me practicing too close to Ike's tent and he didn't say much but he just stared at me with those red eyes. I got shivers! Sheesh, he almost gave me nightmares!"

"He employs a demon as his assistant?" Micaiah said. She sounded all too eager to believe the worst in Ike.

"Well I don't think he's a demon. Though the creepy red eyes aren't helping — "

"If you two are done trying to decide my future, I've got news," Sothe said with more than a little irritation.

Both stopped their Plans Of His Wedding and gave him their full attention.

"It's the Jeigan pass. They thought we must be using it and so they were going to trap a group in there to lure us in"

"Jeigan pass? Nobody uses that. In fact people go around saying 'don't use Jeigan!'" Tormod interjected.

"Those cruel people...we'll have to intercept them and rescue the people. Nice job, Sothe."

Sothe just grunted. Tormod threw his arm about Sothe's shoulder.

"He had a little help!"

Sothe stared at Tormod, but he didn't push him away this time, yet again. He didn't even have the heart to glare at him.

"You know, I think that shirt fits you."

"I definitely agree," Tormod said.

"I still don't see much difference," Edward grumbled.