Title: Today More Than Yesterday And Less Than Tomorrow
Character/Pairing: Ike/Soren, background Boyd/Mist and Kieran/Oscar
Rating: a bit PG for some mentions. Not too bad.
A/N: #08 - Kitchen | 30_ways / comment_fic: author's choice, author's choice, Flu season.
Instead of blogging about my somewhat recent sickness, I wrote fluff. I think this is connected to Priceless. Pointless sick fluff, yay!
It started with a sore throat that came from the coldness of his room, for the window was in need of fixing and the hearth couldn't quite keep out such a gale. Then came chill on his body, one which lasted for hours. The next day, the symptoms set in, far worse, and not easy to ignore. His head was filled with mucus. Slimy, painfully bloated mucus. His left ear was congested enough that it was like being underwater – under an algae filled green lake.
He made his way like a drunkard to the mess hall, where everyone was wrapped up in their own porridge and own affairs. Shinon and Gatrie were nursing hangovers, with Shinon being the crankier of the two, with his head in his hands. Mist and Mia were chatting amiably with Boyd watching with affectionate amusement.
"G'moring!" Mist said.
"Morning," Soren replied. However, the voice that came sounded unfamiliar. It was dry and scratchy, hoarse and raspy. Soren cleared his throat and tried again, with the same result.
Soren clutched at his throat, surprised, while Ike rose from his chair and came closer.
"Soren are you ill?" Mist said in concern.
"No," Soren croaked.
"Are you suuure? It sounds like you're really ill," Mist said.
"I'm perfectly alright–"
Soren stopped mid-rasp as he felt Ike's hand at upon his shoulder.
"Soren – Bed. Now."
"I'm perfectly capab—"
"Wrong answer," Ike said. He scooped Soren up and threw him over his shoulder and went off in the direction of Soren's bedroom.
There followed a period of silence
Mia elbowed Boyd. "Well, it looks like you and Mist are the only hope for Greil's legacy."
Soren sat petulantly under a mass of covers that Ike had deposited onto him. Unlike certain teammate's perceptions, nothing more amorous than a kiss on the forehead happened, nor was likely to happen until the illness had passed. There was nothing like congestion, a sore throat and a splitting headache to kill any mood either might have had for the duration of the illness.
Soren mentally calculated the number of days Ike would be spending on the couch (three days at least, a week at most) compounded by Ike's need and surmised that if this took long, he'd need at least another day in bed to make up for the night. Soren felt, however, that this was something that could be spared, given that said night was sure to be memorable.
His calculations were interrupted by Oscar walking in without knocking. Usually such a thing would be unforgivable, but for Oscar's defense, his hands were full with a tray. The only way he could have knocked was with his head, and that was more to Kieran's style than Oscar's.
"I brought you some chicken both on Ike's orders. He also told me to tell you that he'd be back later."
"It's nothing major," Soren muttered.
Oscar smiled. "Oh, but it could turn into something major. Did I ever tell you of the time I nursed Kieran back to health?"
Soren didn't particularly care, but he had a sneaking feeling that Ike had put Oscar on charge to ensure that Soren didn't slip off to finish chores unseen.
"No. I can feed myself."
He propped himself up. Oscar handed him a bowl of chicken broth.
"One he took ill, Kieran thought it a personal insult. He bathed in freezing cold, pushed himself to train harder while screaming 'no sickness shall take down a Crimean knight!' Needless to say he got quite a bit worse before I could take care of him. I didn't think I'd ever be chasing a naked, hallucinating Kieran across a snowy courtyard – but with him anything is possible."
Soren glanced down at the broth. It was a bit much, but it seemed that Oscar would be giving him anecdotes until it was suitably low enough to pass inspection. Considering that said inspection was probably Ike's, it'd be at least one bowl, perhaps more. Soren grimaced. Maybe if he drank down half a bowl and feigned weariness Oscar would cease with these endless tales, which were bound to go on to when Rolf was still wetting his pants and Boyd cried himself to sleep.
Then again, this would be a perfect blackmail gathering time should Rolf or Boyd ever proved stubborn on some issue. The information about Kieran was fairly useless, however, for Kieran was too full of 'the pride of a Crimean knight' to ever be shamed from his idiotic antics.
"What about your brothers? Have you any stories of them?"
"Oh, I've got plenty. Did I ever tell you about the time Boyd set fire to Rolf's pants while trying to light the hearth?"
"No, you haven't," Soren said.
"Well, you see..."
Paydirt. Soren filed this away for later.
By the time two days had passed Soren was in the worst part of his illness, while everyone else had fallen with a far worse sickness. It involved far more vomiting and sore stomachs, to Soren's more common illness. By this Soren was granted a minor reprieve of Ike's insistence that he stay in bed and rest, even if he was congested worse than ever. Rhys was overworked, and most of his helpers were falling to the newer illness.
Several of the mercenary troup milled about, their heads bent as if they were weighed down. Shinon, Rolf, Titania, Mist and Ike had gathered to the mess hall, the rest were likely in bed. With Oscar's falling to the illness as well, that meant that Ike was in charge of cooking – which was a frightening thought in itself. However, it wasn't quite at horrific as Mist's first cooking tenure, only that the menu of the day suddenly became meat for breakfast, meat for lunch, and meat for dinner with spicy meat on the side for dessert.
"Did you find out anything, Soren?"
"It's influentia, often called the flue, for earlier healers believed that it was the cause of bad air. They treated it by bleeding with leeches and made some kind of herbal witches' brew. Any that survived was in spite of, and not because of these so-called healers."
"What does the book say on it?" Titania said.
"Rest, fluids, various herbal – also lack of alcohol."
"Really? I thought Alcohol was generally a good thing for illness, or at least that's what Master Shinon says," Rolf said.
Shinon glowered. He rose to his feet, more unsteadily than he would have liked, and flipped Soren a finger with a meaning that every tribe and every language knew. He'd taken to using that ubiquitous gesture a lot lately ever since his voice had turned croaky, and rough due to the sickness.
"You added that just to piss Shinon off, didn't you?" Ike said.
"No. According to the texts, it was something in the sugar content of alcohol. My amusement from the results was just a bonus." Soren said.
"Moving on. While it has been shown to be deadly at times, I don't believe this to be a cause for worry. Most of us, save Rhys and myself, are healthy, young and should be able to fight it off. I predict that by the next week most of us will have recovered. Especially if we keep to the herbal recipes this tome calls for."
"Mia has already mostly recovered and Oscar says he'll be back soon too, maybe in a day or two, so I think you're right," Titania said.
Soren said nothing in response, at least vocally, but his expression quite clearly said of course I'm right.
Soren had burrowed under his covers. Even if it was depriving him of what he'd slated for the day, that didn't mean he'd let it be entirely wasted. There was always a tome or two hidden in his room, just in case.
He would never admit it vocally, but this was almost nice to be free of inane clients and stupid people he had to deal with, many of them included in his mercenary team. If nothing, he'd be able to catch up on his research. He'd had to put aside a fascinating dissertation of the bardic tales of the four heroes, complete with scathing commentary for quite a while now. This was a good opportunity as any to get to it.
The door opened, and Soren's irritation at being interrupted again faded when he Ike came into view. Ike was allowed to be as brusque and impolite as possible. In fact, as far as Soren was concerned, it was a turn on.
Ike pulled out a purple ball – a fruit, Soren recognized when he focused. There were undertones of reds and blues to the purple, and the scent was strong enough to be clear even through his congestion.
"They don't grow around here this season," Soren said.
"Yeah. The had a seller from Begnion. Rhys mentioned they were good in curing illnesses."
"I hope it wasn't too expensive," Soren said.
"It wasn't too bad. Besides, I'm allowed to bring you expensive things sometimes."
"That gesture would work better if I wasn't also in charge of the budget."
"Write it off as me taking it out of my personal wages for personal reasons," Ike said.
"It's not that I'm not grateful—"
"Soren, I've known you long enough that you don't need to explain."
Soren leaned his head against Ike. Anyone else might have had the fear of catching the illness, but Ike had never fallen sick in his life. He certainly wasn't about to start now.
"Do the rest of the team need you?" Soren said sleepily.
"Are you trying to get rid of me already?"
"Hardly," Soren replied.
"They can wait a while. I brought dinner too. I figured we could eat together."
"Thank you," Soren said mirthlessly as he saw Ike place yet another meat dish on his simple table which he kept for tomes by his bedside . At this rate he was contemplating taking up one of those meatless, Heron diets. Or at least suggesting it for the look on Ike's face. Steam poured off of it, enough that one could likely have a sauna right with their meal. The food was served hot enough to burn the roof of one's mouth – another complaint with Ike's cooking.
"Was it hard doing everything by yourself?" Soren said.
"It did make me realize how much I relied on you," Ike admitted.
"It's a good thing to hear," Soren said.
Lack of squeamishness and sheer immunity to all diseases were two of the less lauded positive aspects of Ike, but Soren appreciated them none the same, especially now. Even after all these years he was still finding new aspects of Ike to appreciate. Perhaps Ike felt the same.
Soren settled in. Maybe in a few hours the food would be reasonably cool enough for a Beorc to consume.
"How was your day?" Soren said.
"I doubt you care about the chores I did. They were really basic," Ike said offhandedly
"Yes, I care. Even the menial things," Soren said.
"Well, if you say so," Ike said, and began the perfectly mundane story of the day.
Soren listened attentive to every part. He'd long realized that it wasn't so much the content of the story as who was the subject and doing the telling. Even a story of Ike's kitchen mishaps, amusing as they were, was something still of much interest. This itself must have been some minor, forgotten definition of love. Beyond the overly lauded passion and obsession were the quiet moments of discussion that would have been a bore, a waste with anyone else. Love was finding out even after over fifteen years of scrutiny, there were still some new aspect of him to adore. Love was finding that the affection had only deepened, day by day and that loyalty and belief had not, and would not wane.