Ike isn't particularly fond of the sea, mostly because being on a ship makes him essentially a sitting duck, and partly because there is no better way to learn of someone's quirks than by sharing closed quarters with him for many days. Back at their fort, it was different; the camp was large, and the land even larger. Everyone had his own room, and the option of wandering if he so chose. Now, though... barely a week at sea and Ike can tell that some people are simply not meant to have roommates.
Soren and Boyd are still holding each other's gaze. Boyd's upset frown is just as fierce as Soren's cold displeasure.
"Look," Ike says, attempting to mediate, "I know this voyage isn't easy on us, but you have to keep in mind that everyone is in the same boat -- ah, no pun intended. Everyone is sharing cabins, and this is a long trip." He stifles a sigh; they aren't even looking at him. "You'll have to make more of an effort to get along, you two."
"I was getting along just fine!" Boyd points out. He levels an accusing finger at the staff officer. "He's the one with the problem."
"Soren?" Ike prods.
"... He smells," the raven-haired mage explains grudgingly. "When I pointed it out, he took offense. Really, Boyd, one would think I did you a favor. Never again will you wonder why no one can stand to converse with you so early in the morning."
"Why, you--! What kind of manners are those? Were you raised in a barn?"
"It smells like you did."
"Soren, enough," Ike interjects firmly. "Both of you, are you going to be a problem for the rest of the journey? It could take months, remember what Nasir said? It's all about how the wind blows." He tries giving them a stern look. "Mist and I were hoping this voyage would help bring us and our new recruits closer together, but so far, it's tearing our family apart."
"Hey, sorry, Ike." Boyd waves his hands disarmingly. "I got no problem with making any effort to be friendly, you know that. I mean, if being squished together on this ship doesn't bring us closer together, I don't know what will!"
Ike nods, and then shifts his gaze to his staff officer. "Soren?"
The mage doesn't answer right away, and when he does, it's only to suggest, "Why doesn't Boyd bunk with Oscar and Rolf? Then the brothers would be together."
Boyd is just further insulted. "Aw, Soren--"
"No," Ike says. "If I let you two switch, maybe some other people will want to, and we'll be causing Nasir difficulty for no reason. Plus, it could cause some mixed feelings amongst the company. Plus, you're being silly. Stop it." Having given his final word, Ike turns to go. "Soren, try to work on your delivery. Boyd... ah, I don't know, brush your teeth before you go to bed, or something."
With that, Ike leaves behind a sputtering fighter and an annoyed tactitian.
"Volke, where are you?"
"Here, Volke! Here, boy!"
"... Rolf, I really don't think that's going to get his attention."
"I'd come if someone called my name like a dog's."
"... Well, I mean, to beat him up."
Mist sighs, and looks mournfully at the plate of rice and roast beef she's been carrying around the ship. "He's got to be around here somewhere."
"Maybe he's stuck in a porthole," Rolf suggests, amused.
"Rolf! That's not very nice." Mist glances at the portholes just in case. "It's just... why doesn't he want to eat with us?"
Her friend shrugs. "Dunno. Maybe he just doesn't like other people. Or crowds, or something."
"That's no reason he should go hungry!" With convinction, Mist resumes her search. "Volke! Volke, please come out?"
"I'm so sick of rice," Boyd moans one night at dinner.
Oscar glances down at his own plate. "It's good rice."
"That's not the point," his brother says. "We're eating rice all the time lately. What gives?"
"It's a precautionary measure," Zihark explains. He takes a bite of the rice and savors it. "We have more than enough food for two months, I'm sure, but in case something happens, we're stretching out the rice."
Boyd exchanges glances with Rolf. "We're not lost, are we?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Titania corrects him, taking a seat at their table with her own plate. "We're following the coastline. It's just normal for Nasir to be cautious on long voyages, that's all. Especially since we're harder than civilian folk, and we can handle a couple of days on mostly rice."
Zihark nods and keeps eating. Oscar and Rolf do the same. Boyd reluctantly picks up his fork.
It's a loud, clear, bold address, and it stops Oscar in his tracks across the deck. He looks over his shoulder. "Hello, Kieran."
The red-clad knight jogs over to him, so enthused, Oscar half-expects a sparring match to break out right there. "Behold my axe!" He presents it.
Oscar inspects the steel weapon. "It looks very much like your last axe."
"Oscar," Kieran replies, "it's the same axe. But behold my skill!" He steps back a pace or two and performs an impressive downward thrust, as one would mounted, and stops the follow-through an inch before making a hole in Nasir's deck.
"Very good," Oscar compliments. "You get better and better every day."
Kieran straightens abruptly, gives him a suspicious stare. "You compliment me...?" Almost to himself, "Well then, you're obviously mocking me!"
"No, I'm not," Oscar assures him, raising his arms in surrender. "You're really a very good fighter, Kieran."
The other knight stands very tall, and lowers his axe. "Very well, Oscar, if that's how you want to play it."
He pumps the axe into the air to emphasize his point. "I'm going to train even harder! And when I return, it will be to strike fear into your heart!"
"... Well, okay then," Oscar replies, though Kieran hasn't stuck around long enough to even hear it.
Volke eventually decides that Mist is cute and sweet. So cute and sweet, he decides to remain in the shadows while she roams the ship in search of him.
After putting Sothe to work righting the barrels of supplies he knocked over during his flight, Ike asks Nasir how much farther to Begnion.
"About another month, give or take a few days." Nasir folds his arms, watching Sothe struggle with a particularly heavy barrel. "As I've said, it also depends on our speed, which is all in the wind."
"There's something in sea wind, that's for sure," Ike mutters, referring to some of the odd behavior his band has exhibited.
"Cabin fever, Ike," Nasir assures him. "It's just cabin fever."
Ike is prepared for many things while bathing: A sudden attack, a call to arms, just to name a couple. He's even prepared himself for the scenario that someone would one day burst into his room to warn him on an impending attack.
Soren doesn't burst in, exactly. It's more like he rushes in, holding one of his books and looking exasperated. In fact, he's so annoyed with whatever has managed to annoy him that until he shuts the door and starts for Ike's bed, he doesn't notice Ike is not really fit to entertain company. When he does, he freezes, and hugs the hardcover to himself, eyes noticeably wider.
Ike is more amused than embarrassed. He drops the washcloth back into the bucket and sits more appropriately on the little stool. "Hello, Soren. Do you need something?"
"Ike," the mage gasps, snapping out of his surprise. "I'm sorry, I didn't -- I thought you weren't even here." He fixes his gaze on the bed. "I thought you were... somewhere else."
Ike shrugs. "It's fine. What did you need?"
Soren's complexion is pale, so the soft blush is very noticeable. "Just someplace quiet to read. Boyd is doing push-ups and the like in our cabin, and those annoying grunts he makes...."
"Oh," Ike laughs, "yeah, I can see how that would be hard to put up with. Go ahead," he gestures to the bed. "I'm going to go make the rounds in a second."
Soren settles onto the bed, back to the wall, and sets the book in his lap. He opens it to the page he's marked and all but buries his nose in it.
Ike finishes sponge-bathing, stands up, and pulls out a new pair of clothes. "Enjoy," he says to Soren over his shoulder, once he's dressed. "I'll see you later."
"Yes," Soren replies. He hasn't turned a page.
Soren struggles with himself for a long time after Ike leaves. He wishes the commander hadn't left his dirty clothes strewn about on the bed. He tries focusing on the page in his lap, and then tries closing his eyes, tries forcing the image of Ike's perfectly chiseled body from his mind.
It doesn't work, and he has to leave before he buries his face in Ike's dirty shirt.