Title: Basket of Irises
Fandom: Fire Emblem Path of Radiance/Fire Emblem Heroes
Summary: A quiet moment after the festival, a basket of irises that love a tactician's hair too much, an end to a long day. Ike is weary, but Soren is there.
Notes: The Greil's Devoted paralogue chapters made me feel so much. :')
Basket of Irises
As Ike unfastens the coat around his shoulders, shaking free of the fancy red garment lined with way too many tassels, a huffed sound of displeasure from the room over makes his lips quirk up at their shared ordeal. Any other outfit of his would end up in a messy pile, but this one is different, chosen with eager care by Mist and Titania.
He slowly folds the silky sleeves as best as he can and drapes the coat over the back of the chair in the room. To his displeasure, the outcome is a lumpy pile, just a step above messy, but at least there is little possibility of further wrinkles or tears in the future of this coat. His hand lingers on it, the material soft under his fingers. He doubts a second attempt at folding it will help matters. Best to move on. Yes, it's best to move on...
Just as he reaches for the sash thing tied around his waist, he hears a yelp that has him crashing through the door, heart pounding furiously against his rib cage.
"Soren?" Ike asks, voice jarringly loud, nerves still on edge since the festival.
Soren glances over, the usual stunning red of his eyes sadly concealed by the dark of the night, difficult to read. His face, pale against the silver moonlight, doesn't ease Ike's worries, as he knows how taxing being among crowds is for Soren, and today has been no exception, the crowds in town even more immense than usual in celebration of the Day of Devotion.
But Ike also knows that Soren did enjoy the festival in his own way, even admitting that he could see the merit of such a celebration, though he much prefers spending his time in a more practical fashion still. After all, before the tournament began, Ike turned from the meat stall to see a tiny, fleeting smile on Soren's face, until Soren looked away and rattled off their strategy for the upcoming battles.
If only Ike turned around sooner, he could have seen more of that smile, but getting to enjoy Soren's voice was not bad either.
Like Ike, Soren was shedding the layers of today's outfit, his fine, green coat draped over his chair in a much neater fashion than Ike's, leaving him clad only in the white blouse and black pants underneath it. He has gotten a bit further than Ike in removing the finery that bound them today, as that thing around his waist is also neatly folded by the table, but no more than that.
Without the coat, Soren's silhouette is smaller, his shoulders slim and empty. But if anyone thinks to underestimate Soren because of his slender stature, they would be terribly wrong. With irises billowing in the air, their foes fell one after another to a deadly dance of flowers and a smirking tactician.
Ike could watch on, forever, enraptured by the sight.
Now, under the caress of the moon, Soren's hair glows a soft black, and it's with his heart thumping too loudly and too quickly in the quiet and calm of the night that Ike follows the trail of his long tresses down to where they are ensnared on the handle of the basket of irises in Soren's hands.
Ike takes a deep breath, the scent of those flowers grounding him, and feels his nerves settling a teeny tiny bit more, now that he has found the reason for Soren's distress and understands his own overreaction.
"Need some help?"
Ike gestures at the basket, to which Soren gives a quiet affirmative but does not nod, head kept still. Understandable, with his hair caught so. Walking closer, Ike leans in and begins working as carefully as he can, while Soren holds the basket steady, the scent of irises teasing their proximity.
Soren's hair is as soft and smooth as it looks, except for the snarl at the end. Ike runs his hand through it and gently works on freeing each strand from the jaws of the relentless basket. It's a foe like none other Ike has ever met.
"Come on, let go," Ike grumbles. "This hair is not yours to keep."
"Are you talking to the basket, Ike?" Soren asks and chuckles, his shoulders relaxing, as if the stress from the day has melted away because of Ike's inane comment. It makes the last of Ike's own unease loosen as well, so much that he finally realizes how tense he was before this.
As Ike emerges victorious over the basket, successfully rescuing Soren's hair from its dastardly reaches, Ike hears a quiet sigh of relief from Soren, who then places the basket down on the table and runs a hand through his hair.
Soren reaches behind him to remove the clasps in the back.
"Long day?" Ike asks.
"Very much so," Soren mumbles and lets his hair down. "But nothing in comparison to yours."
Soren's shoulders no longer appear empty with his hair framing it. Ike stares. This too, is another sight that captivates Ike: Soren, with his guard down. To be trusted so much is something to be treasured, and in turn, Ike does the same. It's not until Soren mentions it that Ike realizes just how worn-out he feels.
He rubs the back of his neck. It has been a long day. He doesn't really know what to say or how to explain why he feels this way, but here with Soren, who shares his exhaustion, he feels just a bit less tired.
Perhaps it is all the finery that makes him feel strange. Fancy clothes just aren't him, and taking off the coat has already made him feel much better, much more himself. He isn't cut out for silk shirts or overly embellished coats, and would feel terrible if he damaged the clothing while fighting. His usual outfit is just so much more comfortable, with much less to worry about.
Perhaps it is because of being reunited with someone he has never thought he would ever meet again. What a strange world, to be able to meet a dearly departed loved one again, just like living within a dream, yet it was no dream. Ike and his father were able to fight alongside each other once more, and laugh together as well.
But, his father could not stay. He wishes his father could stay, that they could continue to fight side by side. Yet, it is not to be, the end of the festival bringing an end to their miraculous reunion. And with each piece of finery that Ike takes off, he brings the end of this miraculous yet exhausting day one step closer to the end.
Soren looks up at Ike. Though Ike doesn't really understand everything he is feeling, Soren seems to know well enough. Soren sweeps his hair to the side and steps closer. With a gentle tug, Ike feels himself pulled to him, all the way until his chin rests against one of the very shoulders he has been eying all this time.
Ah, Soren must have noticed.
Ike has to hunch over by a lot, and Soren's shoulder is bony, but when a weight comes to rest against the back of his head, a slim hand running through his hair in a methodical fashion, Ike finds it more soothing than anything.
He closes his eyes and breathes out.
Later, Soren will tell Ike that to him, Ike is the leader of the Greil Mercenaries now, not his father. To many, they will believe Soren to be sharp-tongued, with little compassion, but Ike will blink the moistness away and nod, as he understands exactly what Soren means, even though it hurts to admit it.
He longs for those days when his father was still with them, but that is an era gone by, and this is the here and now. Ike cannot cling to his father forever. Come morning, Ike will once again be the leader of the Greil Mercenaries, finery put away along with all the daydreams and fatigue, returning to business as usual.
But for now, both still half clad in the last of the day's fine clothes, Ike brings his arms around Soren and leans in, letting himself enjoy this quiet moment of comfort between the two of them, in these last few moments of this miraculous yet exhausting day.
"I'm not going to lose to a basket of irises," Ike finds himself mumbling tiredly into Soren's shoulder, and Soren snorts, his entire body shaking.
By the way, I ended up pulling Mist, Soren, and Ike from the Greil's Devoted banner, in that order, but never pulled Greil. :'D I guess he really wants his kids to grow up...
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