Title: and you're lost quite classically with your nose in a book
Series: FE10
Character/Pairing: Ike/Soren
Rating: PG
Summary: And you're lost quite classically with your nose in a book
and it seems so fitting and perhaps this is the end we've sought after for so long.
Author's note: for Ammy, at the most recent round of FE_exchange. My themes were Teenage Dream + My Favorite Book. (which also inspired a Glee crossover thing.) Title comes from a line from "Plenty of Paper" by Eisley.

Soren's hair is undone, his spectacles pushed up on his nose. He's transported to a world of facts and figures, histories which Ike finds quite dry. It's as if they must visit every library on their journey, no matter how small, lest it contain some well of secrets. Ike can't just lose himself in a book like Soren can. It isn't even the sorts of soppy romance novels which make Mist sigh – it's purely informational stuff here. The kind of stuff which always makes Ike space out in lessons, where his gaze will drift to the open window where the training fields are.

He's never seen the point of learning about old stories like the Zunama or the creation of the world. Like knowing about the saga of Lehran the heron will do anything for him as a mercenary. That's all he's ever wanted, all he ever will want. A simple mercenary, nothing more.

He leans and sighs and thinks of wooden swords, pirate games. Soren is, and always has been hard to pull into games. He is too complex, too cold and too old to pretend to be pirates. Ike thinks of how it will go, if he broaches the subject. Soren's brow will furrow, his lips pursed together. He will repeat that oft-said mantra he's been hearing since Soren was eight years old: I'm too old for such things.

And like always, Ike will ignore this assessment of Soren's, and replace it with counter argument of Don't be silly – you're no older than I am.

Ike will be the first to admit that libraries aren't really his thing, and that these so-called scholarly pursuits are not, and never will be his strong point. And yet he's won this debate almost every time, not with intelligent banter but sheer determination.

Come with me, Ike will say, reaching out his hand across the desk or table between them.

I'm busy, Soren will reply, but Ike knows his resolve is weakening. An unrelenting gaze, a Come on, Soren, you've been in here all day. Any more and your eyes will fall out is all it takes to elicit the sigh that lets Ike know he has won. Soren will shut the book and give him a perturbed look, muttering about how he can only spare a moment, and how he's only partaking in such foolish things to rest his eyes so he doesn't have another bought of eyestrain. Last time that happened, Ike took the job of having to read to him. He'd slowly spoken each word aloud, and Soren had twitched at each mispronunciation. Eventually they'd compromised, so that Soren sat in his lap and would watch over each word, guarding it from Ike's mistakes. Ike is not suited for reading aloud, especially not the dry, complicated history tomes Soren prefers. He might fare better with soppy romances, and even brought them last time Soren came down with a fever.

Soren gets sick every season; Ike never falls ill. Ike's always the one who brings him the steaming bowl of soup, which will inevitably spill and burn his arms with muttered curses. Rhys for all his compassion has an even worse time with the sicknesses than Soren, so Ike has always taken care of Soren during these times.

It's never seemed out of line – he watched over Soren every other time, why not then?

That time he read a particularly bad soppy novel in comicly high voices. Soren rolled his eyes and sometimes laughs would break into fits of coughing which sounded suspiciously close to concealed laughter.

Soren still gets sick like clockwork every season, but Oscar isn't here to whip up a soup with healing herbs in it. Ike tries to count down the years, but he's no better with numbers than he is reading aloud.

Soren, he says softly. How long has it been?

Soren doesn't look up. Which date? Since we left? ...Since we met?

The first, Ike says.

Four years and two-hundred thirty-three days, Soren says with barely a thought. His ability with numbers has always amazed Ike. When they were younger, Ike used to list larger and larger sums for Soren to complete, a game between them when he couldn't get Soren to come outside and play even with his best determination. Soren never falters when it comes to facts and numbers. He is machine-like, a living, breathing abacus. Maybe others would've teased him for this with their own childhood cruelty, but Ike has always watched over him, kept him close.

He smiles at a memory of Soren pointing out the inaccuracies in their pirate plays.

What? Soren asks, lifting his gaze from the tome.

Nothing. Just watching you, Ike says. And remembering. He's leaning his elbows on the table, chin to palm. His gaze goes down, to Soren's throat, where the lump bobs as swallows. Soren would likely call it something official, like Laryngeal prominence. Ike always calls things by their plainly, no matter what it is.

I'll be done in a moment, Soren says.

Take your time, Ike says.

He's content to just watch. A twitch to the side of Soren's mouth (thinking about kissing them, remembering the feel) a flutter of a blink, an exhale of breath (the memory of hot breath against him, fingers tracing, seeking, finding).

For once, Ike doesn't mind the wait.