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at day's end

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Soren has blood on the edge of his robes and in his hair from where some of the enemy had gotten far too close, and he is more than willing to trade the next person that speaks to him for a bucket of hot water. One of the newer recruits—a keen bowman, not half bad with a sword either, but not good enough with either that Soren has bothered to remember his name—salutes, but doesn't move out of Soren's path.

Soren stops just short of his toes. He stares down the bowman, brows slanting sharply and nostrils flaring.

The bowman flinches, but holds his ground. "The fresher troops took the liberty to set up tents for you and the General, sir. Baths and washing buckets as well, sir."

The very thought of someone touching his possessions is enough to get his hackles up. Ike's doubly so. Wind kicks up, blasting past the bowman and through the camp; a sign of fraying temper and tenuous control.

The bowman's salute sags, hand shaking slightly and expression suddenly unsure as he likely regrets not diving for safety at the sight of Soren.

(Soren has flee on sight orders from various bandit groups and militant troops in three countries. Greater warriors have not the courage to remain in his sight, let alone stand toe to toe with him.)

Soren inhales deeply. Forcibly relaxes, rolling his shoulders down. Asks curtly, "Where?"

"Over there, sir," the bowman babbles pointing. "Six tents down and one up, sir. By the tall oak, sir."

Piece said, the bowman flees. He nearly takes out four tents and his own feet a half dozen times in the mad dash.

Soren rolls his eyes, and bites back as snarl as he marches towards his tent. If so much as one page is out of place, someone will be spending the next four months on latrine duty; if not tied to the Greil Mercenary standard by their ankles.

The tent is easy enough to find, half again as big as its nearest neighbor and set apart from the surrounding tents and half shaded by a large oak. Steam curls out the front flap and a small slit in the top of the oilcloth, carrying the scent of lye and sandalwood with promises of cleanliness and warmth.

Shouldering through the flaps, the cloud of warm steam hits him head on. Some of the tension bleeds out of his back and shoulders as he starts pulling off his robes. He's in his smallclothes and debating whether to take them off for a proper washing or to leave them and wash as is when his gaze lands on a pair of pushed together bedrolls off to the side and their occupant.

Soren freezes.

Ike, stripped down to an undyed shirt under a leather pauldron and thick silk pants, curls on top of the bedrolls, deeply asleep for the first time in a long while. His armor is stacked nearly behind him, Ragnell leaned against a support pole. Wet clothes hang from a drying line strung loosely between two support poles off to the side. Damp hair shadows his face.

Soren scowls.

The bowman must be playing some sort of prank, which Soren will make him regret dearly.

And yet.

On second look, the chest and pack tucked behind Ike's armor are definitely Soren's—the wear patterns are as familiar as the calluses on his hands. The second bedroll with its uneven mending around the foot and head is definitely not Ike's. Soren scrubs his hands over his face, uncaring of the soiled clothes in his hands.

Titiana is behind this then. Or Mist. Or both.

He'll remind them tomorrow that no, he does not need them trying to drive Ike into his all too willing arms. He's a tactician, goddess damn it; his four year plan to covertly woo Ike is well underway and progressing completely on schedule. Their wingwomaning is more likely than not going to wreak his plans entirely.

Bath and clean clothes first though.

There will be time for hunting down and admonishing meddlers later.