Title: Everything To Come
Series: Fire Emblem 9 (pre-canon)
Author's note: cottoncandy_bingo: finding self. So, FE fandom and Lauryn were sad, so I wrote.
Ike left the noise of the village behind, dragging his feet and uncaring how dusty he got. It was too far off to go to the stream near the fort, but at least outside the village gates offered some peace and quiet. He leaned up against a red barn which had seen better days, with only the sound of horses nickering and eating to interrupt his thoughts.
He hadn't spent much time there before he wasn't alone any longer. Not that he was surprised. He and Soren kept a watch out for each other, and if either left in a huff, it wouldn't be long before one of them went searching. Soren, blunt as he was, always knew what to say. Ike didn't know much yet, but he could usually get Soren calmed down.
Soren sat beside him, and took a moment looking him over before he spoke. Ike once heard a guy from the village say that Soren's gaze was chilly–like some kind of monster looking deep into their soul. Soren had been mopey for weeks after that one, which made Ike wish the guy hadn't been so wiry or fast, or he would've punched him out. The scolding and punishment he would've gotten from his father would be entirely worth leaving a mark on that guy.
"You don't want to stay for the festivities?" Soren finally said.
"Nah," Ike said.
He rubbed at his shoulder, which still ached, even after Rhys had applied a staff to it. His mind hadn't been in the training and he'd done really badly, and hadn't even managed to get a single hit on his father with the training foil. Nothing about this day had gone right.
"You?" Ike said.
"I'm not exactly one for parties," Soren said.
"Me, neither. I don't think father is, but those people wanted to throw us something in our honor after we—they—pushed back those brigands."
And there it was, the entire reason he was out here in the first place. It didn't seem right to have some of the girls his age suggesting he was a hero and trying to get him to dance with them when he'd stayed back and 'watched the fort' which anyone knew meant that his father thought he wasn't strong enough to handle it.
"You're upset," Soren said.
Ike shrugged. He watched the lights of the village, the distant sound, the happiness. He hadn't brought about any of it pacing the nearly empty fort while Soren had read in another room.
"I guess I figured I would be something by now. I'm already sixteen, but my father won't even let me out to fight. Boyd has already been out doing jobs for a while, and he's not any older than I am."
"You're far more skilled than Boyd," Soren said.
"If I was, then I'd be out there with everyone else," Ike said.
"Is that what you really want?" Soren said.
Ike chewed at his thumb. "I guess? I've never really wanted anything else, just to be as good as my father and one day take over for him. It's like, this has always been in my blood, or something," Ike said.
He shifted to try and stem the ache in his shoulders, but it only seemed to move down his back.
He sighed and leaned back against the barn, and tried to keep the conversation going to distract him.
"What about you?" Ike said.
"What I want..." Soren said. Soren looked down at his knees, and didn't finish. Ike didn't press him further.
"You'll probably go to the capitol and get some fancy smart job and leave us, won't you?" Ike said. He couldn't keep the moodiness out of his voice, though he'd meant it half as a joke.
"Never," Soren said with surprising force. Ike looked to him. His jaw was set in a stubborn line, and his chin was raised defiantly, like he'd fight whoever would make him leave Ike's side.
"Really? You're not going to leave? Ever?" Ike said.
"I will stay as long as you can make use of me," Soren said.
"Well, that'd be about forever. Nobody else can make sense of the ledgers, and we'd be lost during tax time without you to do it," Ike said.
"Of course..." Soren said. He looked more closed off, and it was about then Ike realized his mess up. He hadn't meant to make it sound like he only valued Soren for the things he could do, but it sure as hell had come out like that.
"Well, that's not all. You're my friend. I don't know what I'd do without you, really," Ike said. "I fail at this words thing, don't I?"
"I'm no better," Soren said. "Expressing emotions is...challenging."
"So we'll fail together," Ike said. "I'm okay with that, as long as you stay around here."
"I will..." Soren said.
"So there's my future. I'm okay with that," Ike said.
"But that isn't all of it. Something else is bothering you," Soren said.
Ike drew his boot across the dust. "Shinon got drunk and said if I ever became leader, he'd quit for sure, because I was good for nothing," Ike said. "I'm not entirely sure he's wrong. If father thinks I'm no stronger than Rolf and Rhys when he's down with a sickness, then I'm not really leadership material, am I?"
"I believe in you," Soren said.
"I'm glad you do, but I'm not sure I believe in me right now," Ike said. He sighed, and looked moodily out to the fences, the fires and the light. He felt a light, hesitant touch to his shoulder. It hurt a bit, but he tried to not let on, because if he did, Soren would probably never dare to touch him again.
"It takes many qualities for a leader, not just strength. I'm sure your father is harder on you because he expects more of you," Soren said.
"I guess," Ike said.
"I'm no good at comforting words," Soren said. He sat with his knees to his chin. Some of his hair had come out of his ponytail and was obscuring part of his face. Ike tucked the stray hairs behind Soren's ear.
"Some days are just bad. I stubbed my toe, I was horrible in training, I had to stay behind and Mist cooked lunch. I think the only thing that can make it better is just tomorrow coming already. ...but, even the worst days are a whole lot better with you around," Ike said.
They fell silent for a bit, as a bunch of shrieking and laughter came from the village. There was also the smell of charcoal wafting that made Ike regret leaving without at least tasting some of the roast. He hadn't had anything since the afternoon, and he'd be hard pressed to call what Mist had made 'food.'
"We should go back," Soren said.
"I don't belong there."
"Even if you aren't a hero or a leader now, you will be one someday," Soren said. "Anyone who says otherwise can jump off a cliff."
Ike couldn't help but chuckle a bit at this. Sure, he was still hungry and the day had been horrible, but the thought of Soren telling everyone–especially Shinon–off just made his mood so much lighter.
"Wow, with you by my side, I really am unstoppable, huh?" Ike said. He poked at Soren's robes. "You're so harsh, nobody will get the last word with you around."
Soren turned away to hide the slightest hint of a smile, but Ike saw it.
"You're right, though, we should go back...Father might be wondering where I am. Any longer, and we might get banished to latrine duty for the rest of the month," Ike said.
Soren got up and brushed himself off. He stayed close. Ike looked down, and then interlocked his arm with Soren's,
"Ike...?" Soren said questioningly.
"Because I want to, that's why," Ike said. "Now let's go eat."
Soren's usually harsh expression softened, but Ike didn't say anything. He could've, but he failed at words, and sometimes it was best just to let Soren think Ike didn't know that he was a big softie deep down.