This post is about Ike/Soren, but at heart, I think it is about how tropes lose their power and how to restore that power to them.
But I'm really just writing about Ike/Soren here.
There is an extremely common type of Ike/Soren
story, in which Soren is afraid of something (generally something that will adversely affect his relationship with Ike), the truth comes out one way or another to Ike, and Ike's reaction is extremely favorable and proves all Soren's fears wrong. I blame A support.
There are alternatives. Ike could leave for no apparent reason
, or Soren could literally choke to death on his imagination
, or Ike could say something uncharacteristic
justified by the heat of the moment. All amounting to the suggestion that Ike would never ever ever ever have any reason to behaves as Soren fears. Soren's fears are just irrational baseless phantoms! And then Soren's happy and they make out or whatever.
At one point I liked this type of hurt-comfort, as evidenced by my ability to draw up quite that many non-recent samples on a whim. I, uh, even wrote one. Or maybe a few.
But here's the thing -- and I speak not as a reader of any one of these stories, but as a reader following this pairing who has been presented only with these things again and again. The overall effect suggests that Soren doesn't really have any reason to worry about the health of his only interpersonal relationship. He is being silly. This is his one crazy groundless emotional weakness.
It is not outside of the human psyche to be worried about something logically ridiculous, but it's a problem in terms of storytelling power. The presentation of this fear as completely baseless depowers it. Soren grew up with a woman who treated him as a burden, a sage who found him inadequate, a village that stoned him without provocation, and a country of laguz who shot him looks of disgust before denying his existence. There's a pattern to his story. He's going to see
these patterns in his story. And it's very powerful to him.
Now a writer might go "Yes, we know, that's why there are paragraphs of Soren lamenting his life of woe in these stories," and yes, this is again true -- on a single-story level.
But this is not how the reader experiences them. The reader has seen my-caretakers-and-the-laguz-hated-me a thousand times. The reader has been conditioned to expect that flood of but-ike-is-different paragraphs at the end. Even if written compellingly from Soren's point of view, at heart the reader knows that Ike will never reject Soren, and if Soren can work up the courage to confess everything will be okay.
It's so antithetical to the way Soren experiences that anxiety and confession. I think the perpetual retelling of this arc has effectively robbed it of what truly makes it compelling.On a side note, it also suggests that Ike is okay with Soren, always, unconditionally, just because. I am not okay with that implication. Ike sticks to his principles, and no two people ever have quite the same beliefs. People can and do get over their differences, but they are not without their sources of conflict. The game itself presents us with one major difference in beliefs between them, and while Ike literally calls out every other instance of racism, Soren's goes unchallenged. I think the game wants to excuse Soren because his racism stems from trauma and not ignorance, and I am not okay with that implication either.
And so, after seeing the most recent "Soren is afraid, Soren confesses, Ike soothes his fears" story, I decided* that it might be interesting to write a fic in which Soren's fears are realized
. To put the fear back into his fears. It isn't a major rift and Ike is going to leave him forever
. It doesn't need to be. It's just enough to prove his fears justified, to him, and scare the shit out of him. It's these moments that make Ike's ultimate acceptance mean more.* Actually I should credit WET NOODLES, who said she anticipated that said story would be about an actual rejection -- and was terribly disappointed. I found the idea interesting.