Title: Always I Wanna Be With You
Series: FE9 (AU)
Character/Pairing: beginnings of Ike/Soren, Ranulf
Summary: AU Ike plays a certain game involving robotic rainbow unicorns. Ranulf seriously questions his heterosexuality. Soren is a bit obvious in his listening, and Ranulf somehow manages to escape alive. Ike/Soren
Author's note: the theme for fe_challenge was "flying through the rainbow skies". My first thought was 1. Lesbian Pegasus Knights and then later 2. Dorkiness involving Robot Unicorn Attack. Guess which won over. And no, I'm not crossposting this.
Happy (early) birthday, Jordan! To the only straight guy I know who is comfortable enough in his masculinity to wear a purple Robot Unicorn Attack shirt!
Ranulf burst into Ike's room, as he was wont to do. He opened his mouth to say something, then noted what Ike was doing. His eager expression twisted into his patented (literally) dude, what the fuck expression.
"Ike, I seriously question your heterosexuality," Ranulf said.
Soren tensed where he sat on the bed, reading some tome like BlahBlah: History Of The Blah Blah Through The Ages. It wasn't even an assignment, either; he read these for fun – if such a word even existed in his vocabulary.
"You don't go out hitting on girls with me, you don't look at porn, and now you're playing a game with sparkly unicorns with rainbows that come out of their ass to an Erasure song," Ranulf said.
"Uh, Ranulf, you date guys," Ike pointed out.
"This isn't about me, Ike. This is about your glaring lack of heterosexuality, and what it means for our bromance," Ranulf said.
Soren's grip tightened at the mention of 'bromance'.
"Also, Soren, if you're going to pretend to ignore us by reading, you probably shouldn't have the book upside down."
Soren emitted a particularly vile curse in old Daein, and looked about ready to throw his tome right at Ranulf. The fact that he could lift something of that size, let alone throw it was a wonder.
"Soren, could you please not kill him?" Ike said.
Soren looked from the book, to Ike, to Ranulf again. Finally he let the book rest on Ike's bed.
"Only for you, Ike," Soren said.
And with that, he stormed out.
With Ranulf's interruption, Ike's last unicorn had smashed to bits by now, and it was crying sparkly unicorn tears. Unfortunately, his mark was just shy of Boyd's, so it meant he'd have to do it all over again, despite spending the last three hours in frantic pursuit of points and fairies and stars and pink dolphins with sparkly unicorns.
"I think this will prove it once and for all. You'll thank me for this, one day," Ranulf said.
"Really, it's just a game, Ranulf. No different from playing Tetris. Boyd bragged that I couldn't beat his score, so I'm proving him wrong."
"This isn't about your gay unicorn game, Ike," Ranulf said. "This is about what you're being oblivious about which is so blatant, you could see it from space."
He pulled out his cellphone and switched through photos.
"Cute girl, nice tits, nice dick – though not on the same person, mind you – ooh, Mardi Gras, I was wondering where those went. Oh, there it is!"
He turned the phone aside. It was a photo. A photo of Soren in a sparkly camisole, pigtails and girly jeans looking murderous.
"...How the hell did you manage that without him killing you?" Ike said.
"Actually I just came across it. Your sister is immune to a lot of things, including painful death. Apparently she gets off Scott-free being your blood relative and all... Anyways, I think there was some kind of bet, exchange or dark female ritual involving makeup and body glitter going on here. I really think the sparkly camisole with ponies on it brings out the murderousness in his eyes, don't you think?"
All Ike could do is stare.
"I'll send this to your email for further inspection. In fact, I'll make it your desktop. Maybe then you'll get the picture," Ranulf said.
"I'm not sure I 'get' it as it is," Ike said. "It's very blatant that Soren...wears sparkly things?"
"The obvious is staring you right in the face, Ike. Right up there with rainbow-spewing unicorns. Think about it. I'm sure you can find it in that thick skull of yours to see the obvious," Ranulf said.
With that, Ranulf turned on his heel and left.
Ike left the weeping unicorn and went outside to find Soren. Ranulf could take care of himself, but Soren...who knew what kinds of deep angsty things he'd get into.
This was a usual routine for Ike. Something would irritate Soren – and face it, something was always irritating him – or he'd be exceptionally depressed that day, and Ike would have to fix it. Ranulf referred to Soren's moods as 'like a PMSing woman on crack'. Ike might of been oblivious and lacking in social skills, but he knew enough to keep any agreement of the silent, mental variety when it came to that.
It didn't take that much searching to find Soren. He peeked through their apartment complex, and then checked the windows to spy Soren outside, sitting on the old swings. The sky was grey, and looked as if it might pour down with rain at any moment. Ike sat down in the swing next to him.
"It's been a long time since then..." Ike said.
"Yes..." Soren replied. "Time is cruel and unceasing."
"You aren't writing poetry again, are you?" Ike said. He cringed at the thought of velvet-black sorrows and unceasing melancholia spilling down like rains of ink.
"I never wrote poetry. That was a fabrication of Ranulf's," Soren muttered.
Well, Ike never had technically seen proof of the diaries full of anguished poetry Ranulf assured Soren had.
"Uh...Ranulf gave me a picture of you. With a camisole with ponies on it," Ike began.
Soren clenched his fists like he'd punch someone, despite the fact that like Reyson, he'd probably break all the bones in his fist.
"Could you please not kill him? You know, I can't watch out for you if you're in prison," Ike said.
"I would hide the evidence, of course. And if that was by some miracle, found by those bumbling law services, I would simply prove that I was driven to do it. I am sure the lasting records of his conduct would exonerate me."
"I guess I'd break you out and stuff. But still, you're too little for prison. The big guys would mess around with you. Then I'd have to like, kill them or something," Ike said.
Soren softened. "Thank you...for that."
He reached out for Soren's hand and after a moment, Soren took it. When they were younger, they'd held hands every day on the way to school and back. Sometimes, Soren had clung to his shirt while they were eating lunch together. He always hunched down when he ate, nibbling bit by bit, and looking paranoid at anyone who might come close, as if they'd try and steal his sandwich or something. Ike had always accepted it as just one of Soren's facets. When they were young his father had sat Ike down and said now Ike, Soren is different. You have to remember that. He'd never taken it to mean different in a bad sense, more that Soren had experienced a far harder life than him, and sometimes it resulted in odd behaviors or mood swings.
Ike always did what he could to ease these times, because he knew deep down, Soren was suffering. There was pain Ike couldn't imagine, invisible monsters he couldn't defeat – but could hopefully hold back for a little longer to give Soren a fighting chance. Soren's grip was loose, even hesitant. Their hands swung beside them across the divide of the swing set.
"Hey Soren...why don't we hold hands anymore like we used to?"
"We're not children anymore, Ike. Something like that would have been acceptable when we were younger, but now holds different connotations."
He said it wearily, as if he had run over the same thing in his mind several times.
"I don't care what other people think," Ike said.
"It's easy to say that in theory, but much harder in practice. People are cruel and selfish...they exclude whatever doesn't fit their misguided standards of normalcy," Soren said.
"Hey, I already said I'd fight a whole prison full of guys for you. What's two rednecks with a beer bottle got on that?" Ike said.
Despite himself, Soren smiled just a little.
"And about Ranulf – He's not really hurting you; he's just being himself," Ike said. "He doesn't really mean anything by it."
"My dignity says otherwise," Soren grumbled.
"I think the sparkly ponies killed whatever dignity you had left," Ike said. "Seriously, how did that happen? ...does this have anything to do with my jersey disappearing?"
Soren didn't reply. He didn't meet Ike's gaze either.
Ike head a rumble of thunder not too far off. He felt a raindrop splatter over his nose.
"Come on, let's go back."
Ike got up from the swing. It swung backwards, drifting without him. A few errant raindrops began to fall. He held out his hand, and Soren took it. They ran towards the shelter of the apartments just as the downpour began to come. A flash of lightning came as they closed the door behind him.
"Phew, we barely made it..." Ike said.
Soren's hair stuck to his face. His black turtleneck looked like it'd have to be peeled off with the way it was clinging to his skin.
They walked up the stairs they'd played on for many years, as long as he could remember. Hide and go seek, tag, and even Mercenaries, which was way more fun than playing house with Mist. Ike would be the leader, and Soren always took some boring job like tactician or staff officer. He was practical, and always said I am not strong enough to fight, but I will help you in what way I can. Soren was never very imaginative. He always tried to get Soren to imagine he was a wizard or something, because it was make-believe and Hero And The Staff Officer just didn't have a ring to it. Soren would begrudgingly agree, only after he had thoroughly researched the subject as to not use inaccurate representations.
Even then, Soren couldn't relax a moment. Any hint of childhood Soren ever had, Ike had to drag out of him.
The clomp clomp clomp of their footsteps echoed through the halls. Mostly Ike's, as Soren never made such a ruckus – or as Titania put it "like a herd of elephants running through."
Through it all Ike noticed that Soren would break into moments of unconscious humming, and then realize what he was doing and stop himself with a muttered curse.
"Song got stuck in your head, huh?" Ike said with a grin.
"Yes," Soren said tetchily.
"Always wanna be with you, and make believe with you..."
"—and live in harmony, harmony, oh love–" Ike sang off-tune, but he didn't care. Mist and him used to sing stuff at the top of their lungs on car trips to Gallia, and their dad and Titania was always good natured about it. Shinon even taught them a few bawdy songs along the way. All the while Soren had kept quiet during these times, though.
He'd never really heard Soren hum anything before. He always worked in silence, and seemed either completely indifferent or utterly despising of music. Maybe those rainbow-shitting robotic unicorns did have some magic after all.
They reached the apartment, and they kicked their sodden shoes at the doorway as Titania had told them to thousands of times.
"You can have first shower," Ike said. "I think I'll check my mail and then start another round after I'm changed."
"Again?" Soren said in irritation. "You've already spent the entire weekend with that game." Soren said 'that game' the way one might say 'that husband-stealing hussy'.
"It's a game. I spend one weekend trying to beat Boyd's score and you guys already think I'm trying to marry the unicorn," Ike said.
"...Are you?" Soren said, a note of panic rising in his voice.
"...No," Ike said.
"No, of course you aren't." Soren turned aside, already sinking towards sullenness again.
"I'll be sure not to use up all the hot water. Don't catch cold, Ike..."
"I won't. You know nothing gets me sick. Ranulf says I could sleep naked in an igloo and still come out fine."
"That doesn't mean you should tempt fate," Soren said.
He felt something warm in his chest. Like a catchy song you can't get out of your head, or a warm summer's day. It was kind of weird, because he realized he'd always felt this way, it'd just intensified somewhere along the line. With his broadening shoulders and deepening voice had developed his relationship with Soren.
They weren't little kids anymore, but he was still looking out for Soren, and he didn't see that changing anytime soon.
"You know, I think Ranulf might be onto something," Ike said.
Soren snorted derisively. "That'd be a first."
"And if you ever need to hold my hand, no matter where we are, just take it, ok? I don't care what anyone thinks and neither should you."
"I don't care what the cruel, ignorant masses think, if they even think about their actions at all. I simply care that they might be provoked to violence."
"Well, you know what Tibarn always says. 'One man's broken nose is another man's epic bar fight.'"
Soren sighed. "Just promise me you won't be the one with the broken nose. All right?"
"I'll try," Ike said.
"Yes well...I should go shower before I catch cold. You might be immune to illnesses, but I'm not," Soren said. He looked almost demure, a sort of half-tender expression, softer than his usual death glares. It made Ike want to brush the wet hair from his cheek and...what? He wasn't quite sure what happened next. Like with his life, and the blank that came with what he'd do next or what he'd be when he 'grew up'.
He'd always wanted to be a hero, one with Soren by his side. The world seemed so much smaller then. Idyllic was a word Soren would probably use. Or something fancy like Halcyon.
He thought of the heat from their fingers touching as they ran in from the rain. That one place had remained warm despite the prickles of cold from every drop of rain, and Soren's hand had interlocked so well into his own. Just thinking about it made the warmth in his chest grow a little more.
He wasn't quite sure of this warmth, or what happened next in his wantings, but whatever it was, he'd figure out soon enough. He started humming a song from his childhood, and remembered trips to Gallia with a skinny boy behind him, so clumsy and inexperienced at being a child.
"You've really grown a lot," he said aloud
Soren appeared at the door. He was toweling off his hair, and had on another identical black turtleneck and jeans on. Soren was still slim and tiny; he looked brittle enough like his bones would snap if you weren't gentle.
"What?" Soren said. "Did I miss some soap on my face?"
"You," Ike said.
"I'll explain later," Ike said.
"Ah...there should be plenty of hot water left," Soren said.
As Ike walked off towards the bathroom to get out of his wet clothes, he heard Soren humming, interspersed by muttered curses of damnable earworms. He smiled to himself and felt the warmth spread a little more.