Title: Dueling at Dawn

Summary: Ike is sick and shouldn't (read: can't) duel at dawn anymore. Sadly, Mia's left without a dueling partner. Soren always wakes up early to prepare for the day, so once Mia discovers this, he's also dueling as soon as he can read the words in his tome. What should be the worst three days of Soren's life are strangely entertaining... MiaxSoren, by request, dedicated to pinkdiamond4000.

Rating: T

A/N: I took this on as a request from pinkdiamond. That's literally the only reason I'm doing this, still, its not that bad. Anyway, when you think about it, the pairing isn't that strange. Now some Soren pairings are just totally random. ANYWAY! If you've got any fics you want me to write (only Path of Radiance or Radiant Dawn) just tell me in a review which I know you'll all give. Uh, right?

Waking up at dawn every morning gave Mia the fighting edge she enjoyed- the ability to train longer, probably harder, then the others. The ability to fight longer then most of the others too. Except for Ike, of course, which prompted Mia's dawn duels with the 'boss'. Mia enjoyed them every ounce she said she did- possibly more. This being said, she always expected to see Ike ready for their fight, him swinging Ragnell (Sanaki decided it was best in the hands of a hero, like Ike, then in a room locked up), a look of determination on his face. And while the trueblade had yet to win a duel (though some had been very close), she never lost heart. It could be said that Mia was determined to beat Ike- and she was.

Soren was, contrary to popular belief, a morning person. Waking up as early as possible was, in his mind, the best way to utilize time. Sleep was for others- Soren read and worked on his spells during the early mornings. As some of the mercenaries said, he would stop eating if he could. Eating was a waste of time- time that could be spent training, making lists, making battle plans, sorting weapons, buying new weapons, ordering suplies- ah! At times it would over-run Soren's mind and he would lock himself in his room, forcing himself to calm down and continue to work. Peace, quiet, tranqulity. Three things Soren followed by heart, and they worked for him.

"What do you mean I shouldn't- achoo!- get up at dawn?" Ike asked Rhys. The healer sighed as he put his heal staff aside as it wouldn't cure a common cold. Which, incidently, Ike was now experiencing. Ike was about to stand when Mist gently push him back down again.

"You should listen to Rhys Ike! You'll get better so much faster if you listen to him then if you go on waking up early enough to be our rooster!" She chided, smiling all the same. Soren walked into the room suddenly, his face as impassive and emotionless as it usually was.

"Rhys, Mist." He acknowledged them with the slightest of nods, turning to Ike. "Ike. I have the report on the weapons you want-ack!" Soren was pushed aside roughly by Mia, who seemed to hardly even notice him. She was panting slightly and still covered in a thin layer of sweat. She had, obviously to Soren, come from the training grounds and heard that Ike was being seen by Rhys (how she knew this was beyond Soren).

"Ike! I heard you were being seen by Rhys! Are you ok? Are you still gonna be able to train with me? Are you gonna be ok?" She asked quickly, her words almost blending into each other. Soren brushed off his robes and let out a small cough. "Oh! Sorry Soren!" Mia added, turning towards him suddenly and looking him over, hands on hips. "Yah need to get more muscle on yourself- then you'll be tougher!" Soren sighed and didn't bother replying- he didn't need too. Ike sighed and glanced at Rhys and the poor priest and brushed off his robes.

"Ah, Mia... Um, Ike'll be fine, he just needs rest, water, and to not get up at dawn every morning." Rhys empasized the last part of the sentence, making Mia frown. "Its best he takes things slowly., relaxes... Doesn't train for a few days-" Rhys was cut off by Mia's outburst of surprise.

"Wh-What?" She looked like she was going to continue (and, Soren thought, go on a long rant), but Ike sighed a little louder and the room fell quiet. Mist shifted from foot to foot, nervous and wondering if she could leave. Soren sighed, brushing his robes with one hand as the other clutched his papers.

"Mia, it'll only be a few days or so. We can spar right after Rhys says I'm not sick anymore, ok?" Ike told her, getting up. He raised an eyebrow at Mist who shrugged- what could she do if the comander of the mercenaries wanted to get out of the room? "I'm going to be in my room resting, Soren, if you could drop the report off later that'll be good." Soren nodded.

"Of course Ike." At that Ike yawned and made his way out of the room, which seemed a lot emptier once he left. Soren made his way out next, not even glancing at the others. He, unlike the other mercenaries, always had something to do.

"Dang! Now I don't have anyone to spar with! Boyd- yah sure you won't wake up early?" Mia pestered as the ax-weilder shook his head as he wiped some sweat off his brow.

"Sorry Mia, I just don't get up that early. I don't see what's so bad, he'll get better soon 'nough. Ike's a toughy, yah know?" Mia sighed, hands on hips now. They were talking at the edge of the training field, watching Oscar and Titania spar. A little ways off was Shinon and Gatrie, who were destroying targets with various levels of venom (the shots in the eyes were generally Shinon, Gatrie prefering to hack them to bits). Rolf was somewhere with Mist, probably hanging around the river.

Mia couldn't see Ike but could probably guess where he was- in his room sleeping while Rhys took care of him. The trueblade sighed and continued her arguement.

"Boyd! If I miss even a day I'll loose my edge! I need to stay sharp if I ever want to beat Boss!" The weaver sighed, hoisting his ax on his shoulder and shrugging, as if to say 'well what can I do?'.

"Well there's the others, can't yah spar with Oscar or Titania? Even Shinon- there's gotta be others." Mia rolled her eyes and stomped her foot- how dumb did Boyd really think she was? She could beat him with one hand- and had on several ocasions.

"Well duh there's the others, but Gatrie never gets up early enough without a bucket of water being poured on him. Oscar has to make breakfast before anything else, so he's busy. Mist and Rolf can't get up early enough without falling over trying to spar, Shinon's usually drunk and has a massive hangover. Titania is always busy doing something else, like making sure everyone is ok. Honestly, there is no one else!" Mia cried out, waving her arms to prove her point. Boyd scratched his head and shrugged again, it was obvious he wasn't going to be much of a help.

Then Soren walked onto the field and started to rip the training dummies apart with elwind- muttering under his breath and casting wicked spells. Mia sighed and dropped her hands, wondering if she should have another go at training Rhys with a sword. Then she remembered when Rhys turns green and nearly threw up all over the steel sword he was using.

Soren spun around and cast elwind, destroying his target with ease. He allowed himself to take a few deep breaths, relaxing just a little. Mia looked over at the training field and snapped her fingers.

"That's it! Thanks Boyd!" And ran over to where the resting mage was, leaving a slightly confused Boyd. The weaver shrugged and headed to his room to clean up.

Soren looked over as he hear footsteps nearing him, and almost regretted it. What in the goddess' name did she want with him? Soren sighed and folded his arms across his chest, elwind held tightly in his grasp, as he waited for the trueblade to tell him what she wanted. Mia grinned at Soren and he raised a synical eyebrow at the girl.

"... You want something." He guessed. Mia nodded and pushed some hair out of her eyes, one hand on hips.

"Yeah! You get up real early- right?" Soren nodded, wondering how she knew that. As if guessing his unspoken question Mia quickly added, "I mean, you're always up earlier then the others, but I never see you around. What do you do?" She asked, her eyes gleaming with curiosity and... Was that hope? Soren shook his head slightly, clearing his thought. Those deep green eyes seemed to bore holes into Soren and he narrowed his eyes slightly, still cautious around the girl.

"... I have work to do, and no time for small talk." He said cooly. Mia looked a little dejected, but Soren ignored it and started walking away. He still had to deliver his report to Ike, and it would be a chance to get away from her... He stopped suddenly, startled as the trueblade seemed to magically appear infront of him.

"Ok, ok! I was wondering if you wanted to spar with me in the mornings- I mean, you don't use a sword like Ike but I've seen yah fight with your spells. And it'll be good for both of us- whatda yah think?" She said, talking rapidlly. Soren blinked, his red eyes meeting her bright green ones. He sighed and tapped the spine of his tome, looking up at the sky. Goddess help me, he thought before looking back at Mia, who was still looking at him with a big smile on her face. He sighed, giving up. Her logic was... Mostly sound. And besides, Ike would want him to.

"Tomorrow morning then, as soon as I can read the words in my tome." With that Soren walked past the trueblade and headed back into the fort, leaving a happy Mia who waved at his retreating figure.

"'k Soren! See yah then!" She called out. If he heard he didn't respond.

Soren knocked twice on Ike's door, softly, but with a solidness that made it clear it wasn't just a pleasure visit. Of course Soren never wasted time simply talking. Ike's voice drifted through the door, smooth and calm like usual. Soren felt a bit of tension leave him. So he isn't feeling terrible, the archsage thought.

"Come in Soren." Soren opened the door softly, letting his eyes adjust to the dimliy lit room. A candle burned bright on Ike's desk and on an endtable, giving him just enough lit to make out Ike's figure, lying on the bed. Ragnell was in a corner, gleaming even in the half-light. Soren nodded to Ike, his red eyes piercing through the gloom. "I guess this isn't just a pleasure visit." Ike said, eyeing the papers in Soren's hand. Soren cleared his throat.

"No... I'll put them on your table?" Ike waved a hand and shrugged. Soren put them on the table. He lingered around the desk for several moments, unsure if he should go or stay or what. Soren was, needless to say, not really a people person. Even with Ike he was always unsure of how to act.

"... Do you want to talk about something?" Ike asked carefully, wondering what was on his friend's mind. Soren was not the kind of person to be worried about things, he usually delt with his problems himself after all. He loathed to need help from anyone and drove to cut himself off from the group (something he was extremely good at). Still, Ike knew him well enough.

"... Mia." Soren said simply, making his way out. Ike raised an eyebrow as Soren continued, stopping at the door. "She's requested I train with her in the mornings." Ike shifted in his bed, trying to get more comfortable. A cold bowl of soup gleamed in the candle light.

"Did you say yes?" Ike asked. Soren hesitated, then decided to answer Ike truthfully. After all, what did he have to loose except everything and nothing? Soren nodded his reply, glancing back in the room. The window was shut tightly Soren noticed. Not a ray of light shone through.


"Ah. I suggest going to sleep earlier, and you might want to keep a heal staff at hand."

"Of course Ike."

Mia swung her sword at the target, the faintest beams of light showing over the tree-tops. She had been at it for several minutes, destroying the wooden block that served as her target. Slivers and chunks of wood lay around her feet, flying in all directions. Where was Soren? She thought. He wouldn't leave her there- right? Even someone like him had to have some morals, Mia assumed. But she wasn't so sure, it was dark, sure enough, but bright enough to read something (like a tome) by. Mia had checked that by reading a page of her book outside before putting it back, grabbing her steel sword, and heading outside.

She grit her teeth as a sliver of wood flew past her face, leaving a small cut. She shouted and criticled the wooden block, leaving nothing but splinters. She fell silent, panting slightly. She looked over the training field for a few moments before hearing footsteps behind her. She spun around, brandishing her sword, as she heard Soren mutter something but all that happened was the splinters were blown away. The wind made a circle, big enough for their duel.

"I hope you weren't waiting too long." The archsage said cooly. Mia didn't detect and malice in his voice, but he didn't have any care or warmth in his voice either. Mia spun her sword around once, to keep her hand loose and ready. Soren brandished his elwind tome. Good, Mia thought, this'll be an interesting duel. She glanced at a gleaming heal staff behind Soren, raising an eyebrow at the mage. He shrugged. "I wouldn't want you to get too hurt." He admitted.

Mia gave him a cold smile and charged, yelling. Soren shouted a spell and Mia found herself dodging a spell before Soren even got within her range. Gritting her teeth as the spell hit her, she felt herself loosing ground as she was pushed back. It ended quickly though, and Mia lunged forward, seeing Soren's eyes widden as he narrowly dodged the attack. Mia quickly followed up with a hit to the ribs, but with the flat of her blade instead of the sharpened end.

Soren went flying, hitting the ground with an almost comical thump. He scrambled to his feet, dodging the next attack. He was panting heavily- probably trying to regain enough breath to say another spell, Mia thought. But she was tired too, from the spell and her training before. She swung the blade around and yelled as she attacked, swinging her sword at Soren's middle. Soren jumped back and shouted- his elwind spell grazing Mia. Mia counted her lucky stars that his accuracy was a little off as she slid back a few feet.

They both regarded each other cooly. Mia had several cuts on her arms and legs, and a gash on her face from a flying splinter. Soren had an arm around his ribs which Mia correctly guessed were bruised. He also had a small trickle of blood running down his face from when he landed on the ground. Both were tired.

Mia was running almost purely on instinct and her endurence was coming into play- her skill and speed with a sword showing. Still, that's not to say Soren was completely hopeless. He used his tacitcal planning and knowledge of Mia's fighting style against her- he could guess where she would attack next. And, of course, Soren had a greater range.

Deciding it was time to end the duel Soren let loose another elwind, right at Mia. The trueblade tried to avoid it but was too slow- having seen it coming too late. It hit her full force and slammed her to the ground, where she lay there panting. She looked up at Soren carefully, the archsage standing over her. The sun had been steadily rising, and now Soren looked like a black splotch in an otherwise white world. Mia blinked a few times as Soren extended a hand towards her, sure she was seeing things.

Mia looked at Soren's outstretched hand and Soren couldn't help but wonder if something was wrong with the trueblade until she took his hand. Barely able to pull her up (was he really that weak?) Soren brushed off some dirt and dust from his robes. He was glad he hadn't worn his white ones- Mist would have raised Ashera on him if he got those filthy. Mia's hand was soft but hard at the same time- soft like a woman's, but hard like a trueblade's. Soren couldn't help but admire the girl's swordmastery.

Sure, Ike was better by all means, but she had some kind of grace an eleagance that even Ike lacked. Soren was cold, sometimes cruel, and critical of everything, but even he saw the grace and beauty in Mia's sword. He blinked and brought himself back to the preasent, where he realized he was still holding Mia's hand. He pulled his hand away suddenly and walked over to his heal staff. He muttered the right spell and healed Mia first, then let the staff heal him. He nodded to Mia and then put his elwind tome back inside his robes.

"... That was interesting. Again tomorrow?" He said, and, not waiting for a reply, turned on his heel and walked back to the fortress. Mia watched him go, his black robes slowly fading away until it blended with the fortress walls. She shrugged, putting her sword away.

"Sure thing Soren!" She called out, even though she knew he couldn't hear her. She tapped the hilt of her sword, wondering if Soren was always as strong and powerful as that. She closed her eyes, remembering the wind blowing his hair, the intense look in his bright red eyes- her eyes flared open and she shook her head, making her way to the fort. Thoughts like that would get in the way of her training! She broke into a run, wondering if Oscar had started making breakfast yet.

Mia was talking with Mist and Titania about something Soren probably couldn't guess in a few hundred years. Soren sighed, shaking his head slightly as he ate another small bite of egg. Not like the bacon and egg breakfast wasn't good- it was brilliant. Soren wasn't hungry at all, for some strange reason. Logically he should be at least a little peckish- his duel must have burned plenty of calories he would need to regain (his weight was low enough, thankyouverymuch), but he hadn't even wanted to eat the egg and single piece of bacon he had hesitantly taken from Oscar.

He probably should have brought a book- that helped him eat. Besides, it wouldn't make breakfast a huge waste of time if he could study a tome or two while chewing. Instead, against all of his usually logical thoughts, he ran out of his room, barely remembering to lock it shut (after the time Shinon rigged a bucket of mud to fall on top of him he wasn't taking any chances). It wasn't like him to he not get anything done either- but he didn't even write a full sentence. Instead his mind kept wandering, something that never happened to Soren.

And what it was thinking about was even stranger- after all, since when had he been interested in swordplay? But ever since Mia's impressive display that morning he couldn't help but think about it more and more. And Mia's blue hair and the way it flowed when his spell hit her. And her bright green eyes that gleamed with a determination hardly found. And- Soren's thoughts were broken by a different blue-haired swordmaster sitting next to him.

"Hey Soren. I see you had your morning duel. Did she break anything besides your ribs?" Soren shifted uncomfortably in his seat, gingerly fingering the bindings he had wrapped around his ribs. He had quickly realized they were broken but figured he wouldn't wake Rhys or Mist to get them healed- they would heal fine on their own. Soren shook his head.

"No Ike. She had several cuts and bruises, but I believe I was able to heal them all. Did you rest all of last night?" He asked, changing the topic carefully. If Ike noticed anything overly strange (Soren was always acting 'strangely' according to Ike) he didn't say so. The vanguard shrugged.

"Good enough. Rhys came a few minutes ago to check up on me- I thought he was going to set Titania on me because I didn't eat all of my soup." Ike grinned and took a bite of egg. He raised an eyebrow at Soren's food (or lack of) to which Soren sighed and shrugged himself.

"I'm not too hungry." He replied. Ike rolled his eyes and swallowed before replying, something that Soren guessed he picked up from Elincia. Ike picked up a piece of bacon with his fork but replied before eating it, waving it around as he spoke like it was a baton.

"Please Soren, how many times do I have to tell you to watch your weight? You need to eat more- it can't be healthy that you weight so little!" His voice had gotten a little louder, just loud enough to reach Mia's ears. Soren could tell because the trueblade practically jumped out of her seat and came over to see Ike (although some part of Soren hoped he wasn't too invisible). Mist looked over to where Mia was going and got up too, and was followed by Titania.

"Hiya Boss!" Mia said, grinning wildly. "Heya Soren, hope you're not too beat from our duel- I wanna take yah again tomorrow!" Soren nodded to Mia polietly, barely even glancing at Mist and Titania. Ike grinned at Mia and the others.

"Hey Mia, Mist, Titania. Yes I'm ok, no I don't think I'm getting any worse, and I'm sorry but Rhys still thinks I shouldn't fight until a few days incase it gets worse. Does that answer all of your questions? Oh, wait, I had a good night's sleep too." Mist smiled at her brother and nodded, but Titania still had her serious smile on her face. She crossed her arms, her red hair falling over her shoulder.

"Ike, be serious. I know you think its nothing but what if it isn't? I trust Rhys, but even the best heal staff can't heal sickness." Titania said, her way of reminding Ike that he was maybe the only thing that kept the company together. Goddess knows what would happen if Ike died from a cold. A sudden lack of feeling left Soren numb and he suddenlt stood up.

"I have things to do." He said simply, nodding to Ike and catching Mia's eyes. She raised an eyebrow at him, her piercing green eyes seeming to actually have worry in them. Soren spun around on his heel and walked out of the mess hall, not even looking back. If he had he would have seen too blue-haired swordmasters looking at his back as he walked away.

"HYAA!" Slash, plunge, dodge, counter, slash- "HAAA!" Mia sliced and stabbed the dummy, dodging the clumps of hay that her attacks released. No one else was training, and sweet poured down Mia's face, her clothes soaked. It was easily mid-day, and it was hot out. The others had taken shelter inside the fort, probably asleep or reading. Mia always trained before lunch though, and not even the harshest rain or the coldest snow fall had stopped her yet.

"HYAAA!" Mia spun around and cut the dummy's head off in one clean swipe, taking out the rope that held it up in the same blow. It fell to the ground, hay falling everywhere like a yellow rain. She stood there, holding her sword, panting heavily from the heat itself. Some part just wanted to go inside or head to the small lake and swim a little (she was one of the few mercenaries who could swim, the others being Shinon, Oscar, and Ike), but she instead looked around from the broom to brush the hay away so she could practice a few slashes.

She easily found the broom and put her sword down and started to brush the hay away as a sudden breeze in an otherwise still world came and blew it all away. She raised an eyebrow at a white robed figure who stood at the edge of the training arena. Soren slowly climbed the fence and climbed down the other end. It was hardly graceful- in fact it looked more like the world's saddest atempt at fence jumping, but Mia couldn't help but smile at the archsage.

Some memory tugged at the back of her head and she suddenly frowned and then grinned at Soren as she remembered it. The man had covered the area surprisingly quickly, and he raised an eyebrow at her sudden change of expression. His black hair and bright red eyes contrasted perfectly with his white robes Mia realized.

"Is something wrong?" He asked, looking at himself, raising his arms. Well, he's a little weak, but I'm sure he can learn, Mia thought. Mia shook her head, her blue hair gleaming in the sunlight. Soren shrugged and added, "Well I don't usually wear my archsage robes, but..." He trailed off, wondering why he had spoken so suddenly. Usually he was hesitant to speak, and he never, ever started a conversation.

"Uh-Huh. They look good on you." The words were out before Mia even realized she said them. Her face turned a nice red and Soren's face looked a few shades brighter then his eyes. He seemed out of words for a few moments before he finally replied.

"A-A-Ah thanks..." His face was soon under control again, a perfect blank slate. Mia wished she could say the same for her face- it still was bright red. "I was going to say... You, uh, should get out of the sun." Mia raised an eyebrow and went to return the broom back to its place against the fence. She picked up her sword and rubbed a bit of sand off of it. It smudged slightly and she frowned, making a note to polish her sword soon. She put it away and turned back towards Soren, who had been standing there silently.

"Thanks for the offer, but I need to train." She tried to make her face as blank as his, but, if she had been able to see her own face then, it looked more like someone trying not to smile after someone ran into a door. Soren's shoulders slumped but he was silent for a few moments before coming up with a good reply.

"It wasn't an offer. Ike would appreciate your efforts, but your health comes before anything else. In this heat your chances for heatstroke are roughly fifty percent more likely, and that's before you train." His voice was still plain, betraying no hint of emotion. Mia sighed, crossing her arms across her chest. They both stood there for a few moments, looking at each other, waiting for the other to break the silence.

Mia, silently sweating under the heat, trying to ignore the urge the wipe the sweat off her brow.

Soren, silently sweating under his robes, wondering if it would be all that terrible to leave now, cut his lossess, get out of the heat before he did faint. Absentmindedly he wondered if it would really that terrible if Mia fainted from heat. He looked at her bright green eyes, hard with determination, looked at the sweat that silently dripped off her, and then invisioned her dropping to the ground, no one knowing what was wrong. He sighed, sagging his shoulders.

"Mia. Come inside, rest." The trueblade raised an eyebrow, her crossed arms tightening. Soren could tell she's going to refuse, so he finally adds on last line that, for some reason, he doesn't and won't regret. "For me? P-P-Please?" He asked, his white robes fluttering in a natural breeze. Mia's blue hair flowed in the wind, her expression surprised and.. Was that confused? Puzzled? Soren couldn't tell, which surprised the archsage. He wouldn't say he was a people person- in fact, he usually loathed time spent 'socializing'. No, but he did know people, emotions.

Mia gave Soren a small smile, her eyes shinning, as usual, from exictment. Her arms dropped to her sides and she nodded eagerly.

"Sure thing Soren! I guess I wouldn't want to miss a day of sparing with yah anyway!" With that the trueblade started to run back to the fort, stopping when she noticed Soren was only walking behind her. She jogged back the few yards and grabbed his arm, tugging him forward suddenly, breaking into a run that Soren was forced to keep up with.

"M-Mia!" Soren managed to gasp as they ran. Mia grinned and laughed, and for some reason, seeing her smile at him was worth the entire trip out.