Title: love, if at first slightly drunk
Series: FE9/10
Character/Pairing: Ike/Soren
Rating: PG-13
Author's note: not the Hetalia kink meme, for once! Anon requested Ike being protective over a drunk!Soren. Since I already did canonverse drunk fic in I Like Your Silence, I went AU. And of course, being me, I was on this request the minute I saw it like a hobo on a ham sandwiiich.

The title is from Midnight Coward by Stars

.

"Dammit, Ranulf."

"Don't blame me, I figured someone with brains like him would know better than to drink the punch in any party I was hosting," Ranulf said.

Soren was leaning against the wall, and looked like he was on the verge of falling over.
Out of the corner of his eye, Ike noticed someone being a little too helpful. Nobody he recognized, some raver hanger on that he's never seen before.

"Hey, get your hands off of him," Ike said.

"Him?"

"Yes, him. He's with me," Ike said. He pulled Soren up, to him, against him in a way both protective and possessive. "I'm taking him home."

Ike glared. Ranulf called it the Fuck Off, You Don't Want To Fucking Mess With Me glare. It did the charm as whoever it was backed off.

"Do you know what happened? I didn't even know he was here. He generally won't go anywhere near parties," Ike said.

"He was asking for you, I guess. That's what Lyre said, anyways. Maybe he got thirsty, or someone slipped him something. These guys are real generous. Put them with a tightass like Soren and the first thing they want to do is get him smashed."

Ike sighed and ran his hands through his hair. Parties weren't really his scene either. He'd grab a beer and talk to Ranulf and wonder why half the female population needed to tell him about their manicures and lack of undergarments, and the possibility of going upstairs with him. Did he look like he was interested? Mostly he just came because Ranulf was his friend, and Ranulf was good at persuading him into these things.

"You could just put him in one of the bedrooms and stay–" Ranulf began to suggest.

"No. We're out of here. I don't think you want him puking on your sheets anyways."

"Good point. Alright, see you later, man."

Ike left the noise of the party behind and stepped out into the night. He didn't have the fare for the cab, but it wasn't that far of a walk. Several blocks, maybe a mile at most. Besides, Ike had always liked the city streets at night, the pools of lamplight and car lights illuminating the darkness. It reminded him of lullabies his mother would sing whenever they traveled, one of his earliest memories. It always had a calming effect on him. He never suffered from the fear and alertness that most felt on the city streets this late. It wasn't that Ike was foolhardy, more that Ike was aware of his strength. Aware that he looked like he could physically rip a person in two, which tended to discourage the lesser gangs and thugs, the muggers and crazies with knives.

"You ok over there?" Ike asked.

"Gnnnghnn...."

Soren stumbled again, and Ike righted him.

"It's ok, I'm here."

Soren giggled. Even at his most mirthful moments – and those were very rare indeed, Ike had never heard Soren emit such a sound. A low chuckle, dry laughter, but never something so girlish.

"...can do it al'ne."

"No, you're not going anywhere alone," Ike said.

"....pretty colorrsss."

Had he gotten ahold of drugs too? It wasn't impossible, that was for sure. In fact, it was downright likely considering some of the crowd Ranulf ran with. Soren didn't do parties, yet he was way too straightlaced to do anything willingly. Maybe someone had slipped him something to 'loosen him up'. The thought made Ike clench his fists, then flex them. It made him want to punch them, whoever they were, right in the face.

"...Bluuuue?"

"They snuck you acid, didn't they?"

"Mmnnn...."

Soren looked about to fall, but Ike steadied him.

"I've got you."

He bent in the lamplight to get a better look at Soren's eyes. The lighting at Ranulf's had been the sort of seizure-causing strobe lights, perfect for a rave. His eyes looked glassy, unfocused. There was an odd moment, where Soren was moving forward and Ike was moving to keep him from tripping and toppling to the pavement, and their lips brushed. Not a full kiss, more accidental than that. The contact was surprising. When had his hair come undone? His face was flushed, his skin warm to the touch.

"...I....ke..?"

He wasn't about to take advantage of Soren like that.

"I'm here. Come closer, maybe it's best I carry you."

He picked Soren up, bridal style, princess carry, whatever one wanted to call it. He was a mite bit afraid that Soren would let go if he carried him on his back, and simply throwing him over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes might cause him to be sick.

Soren's head lolled against his chest. His eyes were shuttered. Ike thought he might have fallen asleep, though it was hard to tell at this angle.

"We're almost home," he said, maybe to no one in particular. Maybe just to himself.

"Ike.....?"

"You're still up?" Ike said.

"...secret....I...have a secret..."

"Yeah?"

"I love....."

He pronounced 'love' more like lurvve. Other than that, it was clearer, a more lucid touch past his earlier slurrings.

"....you."

It wasn't a world shattering secret. In fact, it made perfect sense. Why Soren hated any girls who came near him, why Soren chose his major specifically and turned down a chance at the Ivy schools just to stay around him. It was probably why Soren was even at the party then. He'd always protected that friendship, clung to it, to him to the extent that all of Ike's friends thought him crazy for never minding all of Soren's neuroses. Ranulf had even, on many occasions, jokingly referred to Soren as 'your clingy girlfriend.'

So yes, it made perfect sense. But what else made perfect sense was Soren being there. They fit, and always had from the playground school days where they walked back home every day, hand in dirty hand. Soren's absence, the lecture series that had called him away for a month had left Ike feeling like he was lost in his own apartment. Even if Soren had prepared every minute detail, right down to prepaying the bills, it was the lack that got to him. Turning around and realizing that the quiet, yet intense presence was gone had been a realization. Here everyone thought Soren would be the one who was lost without him, and it was the other way around.

.

Balancing Soren and unlocking the door took a some doing, but eventually he got the door unlocked and opened, and then closed again behind him. Now, as he often was, he was glad that Soren waged war on clutter of all kinds. Bumping into things while he was a bit tipsy, and carrying Soren through the apartment would've been a pain. As it was, he moved through their sparsely furnished apartment without even knocking over a lamp.

Ike flicked on the light to Soren's room with his elbow and laid Soren out on his bed. He pulled the navy covers back and tucked Soren in. He thought of hangover cures. Soren knew them all, and had given him orange juice and even mixed him a Bloody Mary to lessen the sting.

Should he give Soren water first to lessen the hangover? He thought better of it. He didn't want Soren choking on the water or something. Better safe than sorry.

Soren had fallen fast asleep. He looked peaceful there, with his black hair spread over the pillow.
He kissed Soren's forehead, and let his finger trace his lower lip. Why was he just noticing these things now? It was like Ranulf's theory about beer goggles, except in reverse.

He smiled, and chuckled slightly to himself. "I've been an idiot, haven't I?"

In his sleep, Soren sighed and turned to a fetal position.

.

Ike could count the number of times he woke up before Soren on one hand. Today barely counted, as it was, given the circumstances. He didn't open the blinds, which he'd taken care to close the night before when he peeked in to the groaning mound under the covers.

"Feeling any better?"

"I feel like shit," Soren said. He buried his head under the pillows.

"I've got some orange juice and water, if it helps."

A hand reached out from under the covers.

"Oh no you don't. You've got to get up to drink it, or you'll spill the juice all over.

Soren groaned and pulled himself up, and peeked out of the cocoon of blankets. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his skin looked like it was, if possible, paler than usual.

"Do you remember anything about last night?"

"Not a whole lot. If I said anything idiotic, I apologize in advance."

"Wasn't there a saying for that, in Latin or Greek or something?"

"In Vino Veritas," Soren recited. "In wine there is truth."

Leave it to Soren to know stuff like that. He took the empty glasses and set them on the plain pine nightstand. He'd made it himself, in high school when he was on a carpentry kick. It was a little clumsy, a little slipshod, but Soren had never replaced it.

"You giggled last night," Ike said.

"I don't giggle," Soren protested.

"You did. Trust me, I was there."

Soren sighed and rubbed at his temples. "Let me rephrase that: I don't giggle when I'm sober."

"It was a surprise, that was for sure." Ike said. He smiled, and resisted the urge to brush Soren's hair out of his face. It'd probably just aggravate his hangover headache.

"About last night...my answer is 'me too.'"

"What? I told you, I don't remember—"

"You're the smart one. Figure it out," Ike said.

Soren blushed, and sunk into his cocoon of covers. "Oh....."

"I'll call your work and tell them you're sick. Is there anything else I can get you? Anti-hangover stuff?"

"No...this should be fine. I'm already starting to feel better."

"Alright. I've got to head out for work. I'll be back around five. If you need anything, call me."

"Yes....Um, Ike."

"I know. Don't worry about it, just rest for now, ok?"

"Understood. I'll...see you later then," Soren said.

"Yeah, see you soon. I'll be looking forward to seeing you tonight."

"...me too."

Ike closed the door with a rare smile, one which was returned, as Soren settled back into the covers, his face still flushed.

And it felt right. All of it. Their apartment, their life fitted together for such a long time in such a way that it felt empty without the other – how would Soren put it? In terms like symbiotic and intrinsic. Words he didn't use, and barely knew the meaning of. Words and places and things that made up the lack in himself that Soren filled.