In a frozen Daien field under the bright, breaking dawn, Ike and Soren were, as always, side by side.

In a nonsexual, friendly manner, that is.

It seemed that the morphs who had rudely awakened them that morning, rousing them from the bedroll they shared merely because it was warmer that way, had stopped coming from their side of the field. After talking it over with their usual amount of initial disagreement that completely differed in nature from a lover's quarrel, followed by enthusiastic-yet-never-vaguely-romantic banter, they agreed it would be prudent to meet up with the rest of their group.

"We should hold hands as we walk," Soren suggested. Ike wove his strong fingers through Soren's bony ones before Soren even finished his explanation, so strong was their bond of trust and friendship. "It will be easier to make it through the snow this way."

But setting off for the south of camp, hand-in-ever-platonic-hand, Soren – always keenly attuned to his friend's well-being, state of mind, and indeed his every move (though in a very normal, healthy, un-obsessive way that none of the other mercenaries found slightly creepy in the least) – quickly noticed something was amiss.

"Ike!" he gasped. "You're limping."

Ike looked down at his right foot as if noticing it for the first time. "Oh... that?" He smiled sheepishly at his dear friend. "It's nothing to worry yourself over, Soren. I think that last morph might have caught me a bit, that's all."

"Ike. Why didn't you just tell me you were hurt?" he scolded, wasting no time fumbling with his staff. He dropped to his knees in front of Ike in a totally un-suggestive way. "Here, take your boot off so I can get a better look at it."

"Soren, wait- didn't you say your staff will break soon if you keep using it?"

Soren's striking red gaze caught Ike's, smoldering with the intensity of transcendentally pure devotion (but of course nothing more). "And do you think that matters in the least to me, Ike, when you are injured?"

"It's just a bruise, though. What if someone else needs it-"

"You should know better than that by now." Soren hesitated for a moment, but then reached up to touch the side of Ike's face, as friends so close as them would often do. "'Someone else' is of no consequence to me. You are all that matters, Ike. Only you..."

Rather than being perturbed, or at the very least concerned, at Soren's habitual selfishness or his sudden lapse in logic, Ike found himself moved by such a powerful display of friendly affection. He sat down in the cold, wet snow, and set about unlacing his boot.

As Soren gently inspected the minor injury, held his staff in place and murmured the words it would take to make it as good as new, Ike decided it was time to share some powerful words of non-suggestive affection himself.

"Soren," he began, reaching for the young mage's hand, because he knew that's what all friends did when they were about to have a serious talk. "I've been thinking a lot lately, and..."

"Yes, Ike?"

"When this is all over..." He hesitated for a moment, wanting to make sure that this, of all things, came out the right way, even though he was certain his dearest friend, of all people, would understand. "I want to leave here, Soren. I want to leave Tellius behind, and explore new lands. And-" He looked Soren deeply in the eyes, and tightened his grip on Soren's hand.

"Ike, that kind of hurts."

"Oh, sorry," Ike loosened his grip, but kept his gaze fixed dramatically upon Soren. "Anyway... as I was saying. I... I want you to come with me. Please, say you will."

"Oh, Ike." A newly-broken staff fell forgotten to the snow-blanketed ground, and slender arms flew around broad shoulders. "Of course I will," whispered a contented voice in Ike's ear in an entirely chaste and non-eyebrow-raising fashion. They embraced more tightly than ever, expressing their sheer happiness at their magnificent camaraderie and newly-forged heterosexual life partnership. "After all... what are friends for?"

Unbeknownst to Ike and Soren, Shinon and Gatrie looked on at the tender scene of the purest friendship before them, equally touched.

Gatrie turned to his own friend. "...You think they're fucking too, right?"

Shinon nodded sagely. "Like rabbits."