After so many unforgotten years, Stefan receives an unexpected visitor. Between Ike's death and the hostilities of the colony themselves, will Stefan be able to help his old friend? Or is Soren just a lost cause? Implied Ike/Soren. Slight Stefan/Soren if you squint. Maybe.
Yes, there's an OC. Plz to be gettin' over. I'm trying to characterise him well and stay away from Stu-ishness.
“We need more meat,” Kaz grumbled in sync with his own stomach. “Fed up of snacking on bread and plants. Need some crunch in my diet.” He was reprimanded with a short, sharp jab to the stomach. “Ouch! Hey! No need!”
“Every need, actually.” The older man looked down at him in disdain. “If you want meat, you’re welcome to hunt for it. We barely have the funding for our usual supplies.”
Kaz screwed up his face. “You’re a jerk, Stefan. Hunt for it…Tch. What am I, a laguz?” He flopped down onto the sand, hitting it with a soft flump and sending grains of it flying into his dark hair. “Who put you in charge, anyway?”
“In charge of supplies, or babysitting pups like you?” Stefan smiled wryly before turning back to the paperwork in his hand and rifling through it with a grimace. He was talking more to himself than to the youngster, but still attempted to keep up some sort of conversation. On a blisteringly hot day such as this, nearly everyone was sat in the shade or holed up underground. With so few of them out in the open, temporary and unexpected friendships were formed. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, after all. There were other Branded closer to their respective ages, but most of them descendants of bird laguz. Stefan guessed that this was what had drawn the youngster towards him instead. It was strange how the tribes seemed to segregate them even now. “We might be able to cut down on the amount of wheat we have to purchase, depending on how many of our own crops survive the summer… but that won’t nearly make up for the extra supplies we’ll need with all the newcomers.” He shot an irritated glance at Kaz, who pouted.
“Don’t look at me like that. If you keep a colony of Branded isolated for long enough, they’re gonna do it eventually. It’s not like I’m the first, or the last. It’s been, what, fifteen years? I’m not a newcomer. All the newborns, they’re the problem.” Kaz rolled over, resting his head against the dunes. “And quit calling me a pup.”
Stefan leaned over and ruffled the youngster’s hair. “Newborns don’t eat as much as you.”
“Hey, gerroff!” Kaz swatted at Stefan’s arm with no real force, then sat and glowered at him for a while. He fiddled with the sand around him, scooping it into piles and tracing lines through it with a finger.
Eventually, even Stefan became irritable, shoving the paperwork to one side with a sigh. “Goodness knows how Soren ever did this,” he muttered under his breath.
Kaz caught the comment. “That the mercenary?” He yawned. The scorching heat was making him tired. “You need to get a new claim to fame. You’ve been prattling on about Ike and the mercenaries since I can remember, prolly even before that.”
“Mm,” Stefan said noncommittally. “I can’t even remember how long it’s been, you know. Spending time with pups like you makes the time go so much more slowly.” He smiled at Kaz’s scowl. “Sorry, pup, it’s a habit.”
“You did that one on purpose!” Kaz scrambled from the sand, brushing it from his shorts and shaking his head to free it from his hair as well. “I’m going inside. It’s too hot out here.” He kicked at the sand with the toe of his boot. “See you later, maybe.”
Stefan didn’t bother watching the youngster go. In the growing colony, there were too many faces to remember and with most, he simply no longer bothered even trying. New acquaintances were made on a daily basis. What was the point in attempting the foolish task of memorising them all? Had he taken the effort to look up, however, he might have chanced upon the distant figure on the horizon, making its way ever closer to the heart of the desert. To their home.