Title: Frost Fair (coda)
Character/Pairing: Ike/Soren, Pelleas/Micaiah, Kyza/Ranulf. Appearances by Lethe and Reyson.
Author's note: I didn't outright intend to write an epilogue, but it wrote itself after some discussion, apparently. Enjoy one last bit?
Thanks to Joss for the lightning quick beta.
They were lounged about on the wooden floor, a blanket set down and a picnic basket filled with savory things Kyza and Ranulf had each taken parts in cooking. And, of course, wine. There was always that in excess.
"And to think, you've worked here all of three years now," Kyza said. "You should get benefits for putting up with the boss and his pedantic ways."
"If I remember correctly, you thought I was crazy for going to work for Ashnard's kid," Ranulf said. He raised one brow.
Kyza shifted. "Not crazy. Just...reckless. "
"Really? You said I was pretty crazy last night," Ranulf said. He waggled his eyebrows, and Kyza laughed.
"You're crazy in the best ways, Captain," Kyza replied.
"Oh, don't you know it." Ranulf shrugged. "Really though... you know how I said Ike convinced me that all beorc aren't bad? When I saw this one, I got the vibe. Not quite the same as Ike in he still didn't trust me–but I knew he'd treat me the same as anyone else as a worker. By which I mean, he'd work me into the ground."
"Well, he certainly lived up to that," Kyza said lightly.
"I guess...I wanted to challenge myself. See if I could take having a beorc boss. Going through the job fair that day, I knew he was the one to try even before I realized who he was. I didn't expect you to come along, though."
"I would follow you to the ends of the earth, Captain. You know that," Kyza said.
"It's good to know," Ranulf said. "Especially when I've got some hare-brained scheme in order."
"Those are always the best," Kyza said.
Lethe stared out of the window. There were no forests, only rocky cliffs. She could smell the sea, the birds. She felt exposed here–it was a haven for birds, not Gallians.
The knock sounded, and she didn't dignify it with a response. The heron swept in. This one always seemed fiercer than the others. His gaze was intense, not gentle. She liked this one better. He had an inner fire, as opposed to the gentler sister who still couldn't speak modern tongue, or the older brother who seemed so timid.
"You of all people shouldn't be telling me that I'm wrong," she spat out. "The boy deserved it."
"Most beorc do," he said.
She turned on him. "Then why are you defending them? You of all people should hate them for what they did to your people!"
"I have learned that not all beorc are bad," he said.
"I can't forget the smell of the blood," she said. "I can't forget what they did to her."
"You should never forget the blood of your people," he said. "Never."
"Then what do you want me to do?" She said.
"You should live," he said.
It had not started out like this. Years ago, she would've swiftly killed him, like the Gallian warrior she was. But the moment she went into the lower caverns, all she could smell was blood–Lyre's blood, laguz blood–and all she could think of was causing as much pain as Lyre had felt, as much pain as she had known.
He lifted his lyre and strummed the first lines as he began to sing. The song washed over her in waves. It was not a sudden epiphany. Violins did not play in orchestra; she did not let go of her hate. But something within her began to give.
She remembered that last conversation before she had left. I don't want you dead or a martyr, Lethe! I want you here and alive, why can't you understand that?
Revenge was her pride as a Gallian warrior. But the one she had sought to kill had already been felled. She let out a cry as he sang. It was a cry of released rage, of mourning for every laguz that died by beorc hands. For her sister, for herself. She screamed with dry eyes as the heron sang on.
It was the first step towards healing.
Pelleas had been quiet since they had returned. He was huddled on the couch with comfort food, looking as if he might be suffering a minor crisis. She felt his tinges of jealousy, how convinced he was of his inadequacy as deeply as if it were her own thoughts, her own feelings.
"You're unhappy again," Micaiah said.
"No, it's just–"
Micaiah sighed. "It's you I love. You."
"I know. It's just. She was so charming and dashing and I think she swept me off my feet a little too. She even gave you her number."
"I politely told her I was married. She proceeded to hit it off with Fiona," Micaiah said.
"Yes..." Pelleas said.
"I see I needed to amend vows," she said. She took a deep breath. "I, Micaiah, promise not to get swept off my feet by roguish lesbian thieves," she said. "No matter how dashing they prove to be."
Pelleas smiled and took her hands in his. "I promise to love no one as much as I love you. Ever. Really, I don't and never will–"
"I know," she said.
Soren was still getting used to things like physical affection. Or the concept of affection at all. Other people did it so easily. He envied them, truly. Boyd and Mist could so easily just slip their hands one in the other, or kiss between laughter.
With Soren, it was all awkwardness. He spent the entire movie in a state of stiffness, wondering how the moments would count down. It was something with car explosions–Ike enjoyed it, apparently. But the time spent on the way home, Soren began to clam up.
"You're doing it again," Ike said.
Soren didn't reply.
"Listen, Soren, this isn't a contest. There's no winning or losing."
Had he gleaned that much, just from his silences? Soren still was so new to this. It couldn't be taken apart and fixed like mechanics.
"I want you to kiss me," Soren said in his most determined voice. He steeled himself, and lifted his chin.
Soren kept his eyes open, sure that he would bump their noses together if not. Ike stroked Soren's cheek. His calloused hands were a contrast to how gentle the gesture was. When he brought their lips together, Soren almost wondered why he had been nervous about this in the first. On the surface it was a simple thing of bodily connection and need, and yet somehow it seemed different. As if his kiss would be any different from all the others through history.
It felt good. Soren wanted to strip it down to nerves, to list it as simple bodily reactions. But his heart beat in spite of himself. Inside him, it came in ways he had not expected.
"I don't trust people. I don't open up, I don't like people in general and my family is a train wreck," Soren said. It tumbled out. It wasn't like he planned. When he told Ike, he wanted to rational. This was anything but.
Ike smiled. "I know all this already, remember?"
"I want to, though. I want to open up and trust, but only for you, Ike. I hope you understand."
"I do," Ike said.
He offered his hand and Soren took it. He leaned into Ike, as if the emotional weight of admitting this was exhausting.
"You don't have to worry about it. We're doing fine. I'm new at this too, remember?" Ike said. "Everything is going to be all right."
Had anyone else said it, he would've scoffed at their idealism. But with Ike, he could hope, he could believe.
They walked into the night. It was unhurried. Soren found for a night that had started awkwardly, he now didn't want it to end. He bowed his head and muttered a goodnight.
"I'll see you tomorrow," Soren said. It was half question, half statement.
Ike nodded. "Yeah, tomorrow."
The second kiss was a surprise. Brief, but intense. They parted slowly, and Soren clung onto Ike's shirt, twisting it in his grasp.
"I just really wanted to do that," Ike said.
Soren rested his head against Ike's chest. "I wanted you to do that..."
"Then we're even," Ike said.
Soren nodded, but didn't let go of his shirt.
"You know, you could stay–"
"–here. I'd sleep on the couch. We could watch old movies together, or something," Ike said.
It wasn't technically their first date, but their fourth. Soren found each one more nerve-racking than the last, even as Ike had been patient and hadn't pushed for contact. Soren found everything tumbling out again.
"–I find the act of dating like a farce, an act. I'd rather stay up with you and watch old movies or even football things than this charade," Soren said.
"Fine by me. I wasn't big into the idea, but Ranulf and Mist said I was a cheap creep if I didn't," Ike said. He shrugged. "I thought it was how things were supposed to go."
"...Then yes, I would be happy to watch old movies with you," Soren said.
"I'll pop some popcorn," Ike said.
Soren finally let go of Ike's shirt, and smoothed the creases he had made there. He kept his hands a moment too long there, resting on Ike's chest, and then pulled them away too quick and awkwardly.
They went inside and for the first time in a long time, Soren felt more comfortable with himself. He didn't seek out space from Ike, but allowed their arms to brush as Ike turned on something very old–apparently a screwball comedy from the twenties.
"I never would've guessed this would be your choice," Soren said dryly.
Ike smiled. "You have a lot to learn about me."
Soren found himself looking forward to it.