Title: Extra Crispy Is The Answer To All Questions.
Character/Pairing: Kieran/Oscar, Ike/Soren if you squint a bit, plus various cast members. (Tormod/burning things, Sothe, Shinon, Titania, Boyd, Mist, Rolf, etc.)
Word count: 2434
Author's note: kink meme: blanket sharing in 17-20 or the bridge chapter, also ballistae.
This is M's Christmas present.
This takes place a bit after 18, but before 19, implying a period between the two (a 18x, if you will), for the sake of artistic license, and because the next few chapters are filled with Dark, Emotional Sad Things which don't exactly lend themselves well to crack which this is in abundance.
Kieran had been relatively fine all through the warmer regions of Begnion, Crimea, and the coast of Kilvas and Phoenicis. At least, as close to 'fine' as Kieran ever got. However, their march on Daein had proven with some problems. Namely, Kieran seemed to see the wintry cold as just another challenge to be surmounted. Such as today. They had many miles of Daein to go, and yet the thick snow had halted their progress, somewhat. Soren was not in a very good mood about their progress being halted – not that he ever was anything nearing sunshine and rainbows, but when he was in a truly horrid mood, he had a way of putting a damper on the mood everyone around him.
Kieran had disappeared, but that was no more surprise than finding out that Soren hated everything today (with perhaps, the exceptions of Ike and knowledge.) Oscar was too busy making soup for the cold army to pay notice. It was only Rolf's cry of Whoa, is Kieran supposed to be that naked, or that blue? that he handed his ladle to Mist and went out to see what the matter was this time.
As Rolf had said, Kieran was naked. Very naked, in fact, so much that he wasn't even wearing boots. Frost had formed on his eyebrows and hair, and his teeth were chattering. Oscar cleared his throat and put a buckler in front of Kieran's...lance.
"Kieran," he said, for once sounding like a nagging mother. "What on Tellius are you doing and why are you naked?"
Truthfully, Oscar didn't want to know, but he had to ask.
"C-C-Crimean K-k-knights do not get c-c-old! I w-w-will fight this crafty wind with my manliness!" Kieran said. "J-just this morning, I took a refreshing bath in an icy stream!"
"What now?" Ike said. He emerged from a tent with Soren, Soren's briefings and ledgers still in hand.
"I-I have bested W-winter yet! N-Now o-only t-that c-c-rafty squinty-eyed c-cook of a k-knight will o-oppose me!"
It was a moment of perfect synchronization as upon realizing the situation, both Ike and Soren facepalmed at the exact same moment.
"Yeah, I'm going to go eat now," Ike said. "Soren, it's your call."
This was a dangerous call, given Soren's mood, but his mood was so black that he didn't even seem to have the heart to give him a tongue-lashing.
"He's your rival. You deal with him," Soren said, giving them both a scathing look before he turned on his heel and went to follow Ike.
Tormod too had looked out from his tent shared with Sothe, as well as most every other member of the group. He raised his hand, as if this were a class.
"Ooh! Ooh! Is this the part where I get to burn things?"
Soren pushed back the flap of the tent he had gone into, and looked out with a glare that could likely have made flowers wilt, had there actually been any around . "No."
"Awww, c'mon! Pleaase? I'll only make it a little crispy, promise!" Tormod tried his best puppy eyes. Sothe rolled his eyes and went back to the tent, Soren was already gone.
"If you can manage just enough to warm up some water, you can come," Oscar said. He'd ask Ilyana, but he thought she might eat the soap like last time. She'd burped up bubbles for a whole day after that. And Soren...was Soren, so he wasn't even going to go near him in a mood like this.
"Awesome!" Tormod said. He grabbed up his book and Oscar prayed he wouldn't regret this as he tried to lug a squirming Kieran towards the tent used for cleaning both armor and their bodies.
"Nay! Nay!" Kieran bellowed.
Several of the horses raised their heads, looking up questioningly.
"This is for your own good," Oscar said. Tormod was following behind, and when they stepped into the tent, he pulled out the large wooden tub. He grinned to himself, as if he were brilliant, and began to bring in handfuls of snow. This brilliant idea soon bored him, and he instead went off to fetch water in the usual manner.
This would've been the point he would've awkwardly stripped Kieran, had he actually been wearing any clothes. As it was, he was a large, shivering, scarred blue man who was more than a little peeved. Oscar knew the only way past this was some fast talking to try and get him to see reason — even if reason and Kieran were usually on different planes of existence.
"...See, there's this foe even worse than Winter called hypothermia. If you don't hurry into the tub, hypothermia will win."
"Hypothermia besting me? Never! I will make it run like the coward it is!"
"You do that, Kieran," Oscar said.
Tormod came in lugging a bucket of water. He said some words over it, and steam rose from the water.
"Not too crispy, now," Oscar said.
"I am a Crimean Knight! I can take things extra crispy!"
Oscar gave him a if you ever want to eat again, you won't do it, look, and Tormod kept it in the moderate flambé range. Kieran stepped in, and his cry was a manly battle cry against the hated foe of hypothermia, and certainly not because the water was quite hot on his quite cold skin.
Oscar put the lye soap between his hands and rubbed it to a lather, for Kieran would wash with nothing else, nothing else being challenging, or rough enough for him, when Kieran wrapped his arms about Oscar's waist and pulled him in.
"And here's a new sport called Naked Water Wrestling!"
Oscar sputtered as Kieran laughed. "I got the better of you that time, rival of mine!"
Oscar was now quite wet, his clothes and armor soaked. For a moment, he thought about letting Kieran die. But Kieran was more or less, his friend, and he didn't do that, even if it was very tempting at times.
"Naked Water Wrestling, huh? Can I take notes?" Tormod asked.
Oscar was too tired to say no.
He scrubbed at Kieran's skin, supposing that body heat would help (although it would've been more helpful if Kieran hadn't been squirming and attempting to 'wrestle'.) He washed the frost from Kieran's hair and eyes, and under the heat his body did take a more normal, less blue hue. He scrubbed his very scarred chest, and over his arms. Anything lower than that was Kieran's job, because he did not want to have a my rival is trying to plunder my lance! conversation again with Tormod in the room.
"There, you're looking better now, though you'll have to share a blanket with me for a while, considering Tormod torched yours," Oscar said.
"Heheh." Tormod smiled sheepishly.
"No! It is a trick, a trap. You're simply jealous of tthe deep connection of rivalry Winter and I share!"
"He's hallucinating!" Tormod said.
"Actually he seems about normal," Oscar said.
"When was Kieran ever normal?" Tormod said.
"Point taken. About as normal as he ever gets," Oscar said wearily. "Get me a wool blanket, will you? Sir Simpleton here is certainly a manly enough Crimean knight to take its scratchiness."
"Aye-Aye, sir!" Tormod said and saluted.
"I need no blanket! The fiery hot-pantsted one has done me a great favor!"
"You won't be able to protect princess Elincia if you turn into a Kierancicle. In fact, I don't think I can be your rival then, either," Oscar said thoughtfully.
"Nay! I would break free from the ice that imprisons me!" Kieran bellowed. "BREAK FREE WITH MY BARE HANDS!"
"With manliness?" Oscar suggested.
"Well, while I doubt much could get between you and your manly bare hands—"
"Not even bears!" Kieran said proudly.
"Not even bears," Oscar agreed.
Tormod returned with the blanket, and Oscar took that as a cue to get out. Drying Kieran was worse than Rolf when he was young. He was ticklish, for one, despite his cries of Crimean knights are not ticklish! But after some work, he managed it.
"Ok, other set of clothes. ...Please don't tell me Crimean Knights are too brave for more than one set of clothes?"
"I uh, sort of torched that too," Tormod said.
"Yes, of course you did," Oscar sighed. "Right, new plan. Kieran will be wearing my clothes."
Kieran narrowed his eyes, doing a pretty good impression of an angry Oscar. "Is this some new crafty plan of yours, McSquinty?"
"...No, it's a new proof of our rivalship. All rivals share clothes, don't you know?"
"I saw Soren wearing Ike cloak once," Tormod added.
"Yes, Ike and Soren have a special form of rivalship," Oscar said. "The kind that doesn't need fighting. Or separate tents."
"Then wear your clothes I shall, and I shall wear them more valiantly, more bravely than you ever could!'
"I'm sure you will, Kieran," Oscar said.
There were raised eyebrows to Kieran's new green clothes, but then eyebrows were always raised towards Kieran – at least to the newer recruits who hadn't gotten used to his particular brand of crazy yet. Both newly clothed in dry pants and shirts with overcoats fitted under their armor, Oscar steered Kieran off to the kitchen for the last part in the battle against hypothermia. He was somewhat more cooperative this time, which only meant it was less like wrestling a buttered seal than before. He sat Kieran down on a stool and poured out hot tea and soup for him, with butter dunked bread as a treat. He scooted another stool close and wove the woolen blanket around the both of them. It was just big enough to cover them both. Drinking tea and eating soup side-by-side as comrades, warmed them inside and out.
"As I was saying before, that doesn't mean you should take to going naked. People might get the wrong idea about the Crimean Knights, for one. Plus, maybe some crazy shopgirl would kidnap you and take you back to her lair. It could happen."
"...Are you implying that I am ruggedly handsome, dear foe of mine?"
"...here, have some soup," Oscar said.
To make the day worse, there was an army. A scraggly, mere annoyance of an army, but still an army. Mercenaries came out from every tent, grumbling, cold, and more than willing to take the worst out on their enemies. Kieran had finished his and tea by now, and was ready to fight the foe, as he always was.
But before the soldiers and fighters could even reach them, there was a familiar whistling sound through the air. Ike flinched slightly. He pulled out an arrow which had lodged itself in his arm and surveyed it with little showing of the pain he must be experiencing.
"Ballistae," Soren said, his voice a hoarse growl. Rhys moved forward to heal him, but he said a terse don't.
Soren cleared his throat. "I'm closer; I'll do it.."
He lifted his staff, healing the wound, however minor in a shower of white light.
"Pretty minor to be using a Cure staff on, eh?" Boyd said. Soren turned to him slowly and fixed him in a stare with his red eyes.
"J-just kidding!" Boyd said.
"Suuure you are," Mist said. He stuck his tongue out at her. She reciprocated the gesture.
Soren didn't stick around to hear Boyd's explanation. He moved towards the Ballista in question that had fired at Ike with murderous intent. He took an arrow which did far more damage than it had Ike, and kept walking with hardly a flinch until he was in close enough distance to rain hellfire – or to say, hellish winds down on the unfortunate ballista rider who fell after one swift attach.
He slapped a vulnerary over the wound and started towards the other ballista through the snowy ground.
"Maybe we should just let him kill everyone," Ranulf quipped. "When he comes near, we'll just tell him they insulted Ike. They should be good as dead, then. We can just sit back and watch. Maybe roast weenies. Hey, maybe we could win the whole war if we tell Soren that Ashnard tried to make Ike his bitch!"
"You've got to be kidding," Boyd said. "He'd like, get into a murderous rage and kill us all if we did that, I know it!"
"Nice to see you believe in him, Boyd," Ike said dryly. "Soren isn't killing any of us, not even you, Shinon."
Shinon snorted. "Like to see the welp try."
"Come, my valiant steed! Let us ride to the aide of our fellow compatriots for the sake of honor, Naked Water Wrestling, and fighting bears! This is the code the Crimean Knights live by!"
"...Naked Water Wrestling?" Titania asked.
"Don't ask." Oscar sighed. "I should go stop him from getting himself killed."
"On that note, I think I should probably get Soren before he runs out of vulneraries. Rhys, if you see me coming this way with what looks like a black sack of rice over my shoulder, have your heal staff ready."
"Of course," Rhys said.
"Please do," Boyd said. "I don't want him killing us all!"
"Boyd, you are such an idiot," Mist said, knee deep in snow with her thick wool leggings.
"Ah, nothing like love to make you run blindly towards the enemy with homicidal intent," Ranulf said. "Any more of you crazy kids want to carve up some ballistae so we can go home and have some more soup?"
"We fight in the name of soup!" Kieran bellowed as he swung his axe towards a hapless ballista rider.
"Well said, my crazy axe man. Well said," Ranulf said.
Apparently bad moods + attacking Ike = homicidal Soren? (He did er, ignore his back protecting Ike's in the Greil's Mercenaries cutscene, mind you.) Go Rambo!Soren, go!
...but don't forget your vulneraries.