Title: Get the Fuck Out of Bed, Abomination (Something About Mushrooms 3/4)
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂, Anders ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D2)
Warnings: Terrible ideas, hallucinations, mild angst, awkward conversations
Notes: Darktown is less scary, when you’re tripping so hard no one will come near you. On the other hand, the healer is a whole lot more terrifying when you can’t seem to control your mouth.
The journey through Darktown was exactly the sort of thing no sane man would undertake at this hour, but Fenris was pretty sure he’d checked his sanity sometime around when he first picked up a broom. The cloak mostly concealed him from casual notice, but the sudden flashes of lyrium-light from beneath it at once drew attention and warded off those of ill-intent. Nobody felt the need to attempt to mug a man who seemed to be some Fade-powered avenging spirit, blue-lit and snarling at ghosts.
Finally, there was the sign. He ran his fingers over it, to be sure, and when his hands agreed with his eyes, he banged on the door.
"Healer!" he called.
"Please be awake, please be here, please be awake, please—" he muttered under his breath.
The door clattered and swung open. "I have a name, Fenris. And I don’t smell blood. What are you doing here?"
"You don’t want me shouting your name to half of Darktown, in the middle of the night. You never know who might be listening," Fenris reasoned, clinging to the door frame. "I suspect I may be poisoned."
"Poisoned? You?" Anders stepped back from the door, clearly having been in the middle of getting to bed, a thick, woollen robe covering from just under his chin to his ankles. "Picking fights with spiders, again?"
"Don’t… talk about the spiders. If you speak of them, they may appear." Fenris entered the room much more cautiously than was usual for him, and locked the door behind him. "I believe I may have triggered an old ward or a poison gas trap."
"Where?" Anders asked, pulling out a chair and gesturing for Fenris to sit.
"In my house." Fenris removed his cloak, draping it over the chair before he sat.
"That doesn’t make any sense. Start at the beginning. I need to know what we’re dealing with." Anders watched the elf, curiously.
"If you must know, I tried to wash the floor. Hawke has been… particularly irritating, of late." Fenris glared, daring Anders to laugh.
Anders scratched the stubble on his cheek, covering his mouth as he desperately tried to contain that laugh.
"I scraped the remains into some empty crates and threw water on what remained. Then I swept the water into the street." Fenris shrugged and slapped his arm as his tattoos lit up again. "There were also mushrooms, nine kinds, three I recognised. I put the nugbane aside for you, obviously. I ate some of the march-meats — I know those. I have eaten a great deal of march-meats since I arrived in the Marches. And the third, I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s a Tevinter delicacy of some kind. My master used to have soup made with them. I ate one. They’re terrible, as one would expect from a nobleman’s food."
Anders blinked and moved toward a cabinet, taking down some herbs to make tea. "Tell me about the Tevinter mushroom. What did it look like?"
He had a sinking suspicion…
"Something between a bell and a parasol. Blue-green at the top, whitish-yellow around the base of the cap. Sort of slimy-looking."
Anders flicked his wrist to heat the water, and Fenris flinched. "You ate only one? Did you cook it?"
"No, I didn’t cook it. I don’t cook." Fenris squirmed and glared nervously into the darkness in the back of the room. "The shadows have eyes. It’s really quite unpleasant."
"I know what happened." Anders pressed a warm cup into Fenris’s hand. "Drink that. It won’t make it stop, but it should make it less unpleasant."
As Fenris cautiously tasted the tea, Anders threw himself into a chair that creaked with the impact. "Those mushrooms? Those are maker’s tears. You’re lucky you only ate one."
Fenris shook his head, still confused. "Maker’s tears?"
"Right. You’re not a mage. They’re used to boost magical talents and increase lyrium sensitivity. And they’re always cooked, to dampen the effects." The look on Anders’s face was much less a grin than a grimace. "And you’ve got enough lyrium in your body to poison a high dragon."
As if responding to a summons, the lines lit up again, and Fenris nearly dropped his tea slapping at them. "They itch."
"Drink your tea. I’ll see if I can find a salve that won’t react badly with lyrium." Anders stood and crossed to another cabinet. "Talk to me about something else. Tell me something you want, something you like…"
"I want this to stop, so I can go to sleep," Fenris complained. "This is all Hawke’s fault. And yours."
"My fault? I’m not the one hassling you about your mushroom-covered floor!" Anders flipped through a book, with one hand, tapping across jars of herbs, with the other.
"You and your ‘food in the pantry’ nonsense. I wouldn’t have been eating mushrooms, if it weren’t for you." Fenris gulped the rest of the tea, almost enjoying the way the minty aftertaste seemed to wind through his head, like some pleasing vine.
"No, you’re not sprouting leaves," Anders remarked, drily.
"Did I say that out loud?" Fenris was suddenly mortified.
"You’re a little lyrium-addled. You’ll be doing that for a while, yet. Don’t worry about it." Anders went about his work, crushing leaves into a thick paste he could mix with a little wax and a lot of lard.
"What else have I said?" Fenris demanded.
"Nothing much. Eyes in the shadows, spiders in your skin. You’ll be fine. You only ate one." Setting a bowl on the table, Anders began to mix the salve. "I’m not telling Hawke. I’m not even telling Hawke this happened. If you’re still here, in the morning, I’m telling Hawke you cut yourself cleaning, and you were worried about an infection."
"Must you mention the cleaning?"
"From the sound of it, it’s going to be hard to hide the cleaning," Anders pointed out.
Fenris leapt onto his chair with both feet, pointing into the darkness in the next room. "Rev— no, you’d have noticed it, if it were."
"Revenants, now?" Anders pushed the bowl across the table. "Here, rub this into the tattoos. It should numb your skin."
"Thank you." Fenris usually found himself somewhat humbled to be on the receiving end of the abomination’s seemingly infinite kindness, when it came to strange medical issues and gaping wounds. He might even be bearable, if that kindness extended beyond the walls of the clinic, but there was that whole abomination thing, and the shouty demon of vengeance. Why were the ones he actually wanted to like always the most fucked up?
"As charming as it is that you want to like me, you might want to ensure your lips are touching each other, while you finish putting that on," Anders pointed out. "Also, it’s not that we’re the most fucked up, it’s just that we’re the only ones you look at closely enough to notice."
"You’re all mages. You’re all fucked up beyond salvation. Why I even bother is beyond me," Fenris grumbled.
"This from the man who just thanked me. I see how it is." Anders sat on the edge of the table. "Tell me about the perfect world. Don’t tell me what you don’t want in it. Just tell me what you do."
"That seems like a waste of breath."
"It’ll make you stop seeing revenants."
Fenris looked up, startled. "I want a place that’s warm and dry. Sunny and bright, with orchards and vinyards, as far as the eye can see. I want it not to matter that I’m an elf. I want my skin to be my own."
He let his head fall back and slumped in the chair, nearly sliding out of it. "I want apple tarts for breakfast, every day, sweet and sour and spiced. Do you smell that?"
"No, but you do. Keep talking." Anders got up, quietly and crossed the room. "I’m going to make some more tea. Do you want an apple, while I’m up?"
"Baked?" Fenris asked, hopefully.
"I can fake it. Spiced?"
"You would do that for me?"
"I would do that for me. You’re making me hungry, and it’s no more effort to do it twice than once."
Fenris snorted and actually slid out of the chair, cracking the back of his head on the seat. "…I think I am going to stay down here. It seems safer."
A pillow landed on his face. "Don’t leave your head on the floor. You’ll regret it."
"Yes, this seems much softer." Fenris tucked the pillow under his head and studied the ceiling of the clinic, watching flowering vines wind across the rough-hewn surface. "Vines. A definite improvement on revenants."
"Told you it would help." Anders crouched and placed another cup of tea and a dish with a warm, spice-packed apple next to Fenris. "You might have to sit up a little. Don’t pour hot tea on your face. The scalding wouldn’t help your complexion or your demeanor."
Fenris grabbed Anders’s hand. "Mage. Healer… Thank you."
The abomination seemed to glow with an inner light, and not his usual blazing blue one. A calming, golden glow hovered just beneath his skin, Fenris was certain, and wonder lit his face as he studied the mage he so often derided.
Anders checked, just in case. "No, that’s just you. Still, better than revenants, right?"
"Apples and vines and a healer made of the Maker’s light? I think that’s better than revenants, any day." Fenris finally found the strength to let go of Anders and stuff his face with a chunk of apple. Maybe if he ate, he’d stop talking.
"Made of the Maker’s light? That’s a new one. I’m holding on to that one." Anders lifted himself into a chair, to his own tea and apple. "I’m still not telling Hawke."
"Good," Fenris muttered around a mouthful of apple. "He’d never believe it."
"If he wouldn’t believe it," Anders teased, "why would it matter if I told him?"
"It doesn’t matter if he believes it. He’ll still use it. And then it’ll end up in one of Varric’s damnable books, and we’ll never be rid of it."
"Rid of it? I rather liked it. I think it’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about me, even if you did have to be hallucinating to say it."
"There’s something extremely sad about that entire sentence, Anders." ‘Anders‘, this time. Not ‘abomination’ or ‘mage’.
"The part where someone might think you were sweet on me, if I were ever stupid enough to let on, in public?" Anders sipped his tea and watched Fenris’s eyes cross.
"For the thirty-twelfth time, abomination, I am not sweet on you. Why does it always come back to this?"
"Not always. Only when there’s no-one to hear it." Anders shrugged. "Maybe I just like your face, when I say it."
"Maybe I’ll just punch you in the face, next time you say it," Fenris grumbled.
"Is this the part where I’m supposed to apologise and ask you not to? Because that’s not going to happen." Anders laughed. "Eat your apple and tell me about the perfect world."
"…I’m a snow-covered mountain with skiers on me," Fenris muttered, before slapping madly at his face and groping for the salve.
"If that were true, I’d be home again," Anders joked, handing Fenris the bowl, once he stopped flailing.
They stared at each other, strangely, for a long moment.
"Your perfect world. Not mine." Fenris rubbed the salve into his face and visibly relaxed as it began to soak in. "I would have a family. Parents and siblings, maybe I’d be an uncle. They’d be tradesmen and merchants, and maybe I’d be a guardsman. I could be a guardsman."
"You’d be good at it, mostly," Anders agreed.
"Mostly?" Fenris squinted uncertainly.
"As long as you didn’t cross paths with any mages."
"I would live in a world where mages weren’t power-hungry raving assholes with no redeeming qualities," Fenris snapped.
"But, you wouldn’t choose a world with no mages."
"I… no. You’re right. I wouldn’t."
That hung between them, for a while, as they ate.
"There’s a world, somewhere, where we’re friends, mage," Fenris mumbled into his tea, watching currents of air swirl little white flowers along the floor.
"Make it this one," Anders suggested.
"No. Not while you’ve got that… demon in you."
"He’s not a—"
"So, you don’t have a problem with me, you have a problem with Justice." Anders prodded, unwilling to let this be.
"No, I have a problem with you, too. Just less of a problem." Fenris thought back on how many mistakes he’d made, and how many of them would have been so much worse, had he been a mage. A mage, this mage, was a man like any other, but a hundred times more dangerous in moments of weakness.
"Take that back. You would have killed your own sister, if we hadn’t stopped you."
"I know I didn’t say that. My mouth wasn’t open."
"You had that look on your face."
"I’d feel better about the world if I had killed her."
"But, would you feel better about yourself?"
"… No." Fenris squinted up, somewhat belligerently. "What does it matter what I think of myself, if the world is a better place?"
"Well, if it doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, then I think you have to stop giving Hawke a hard time about his mother."
And, suddenly, everything shifted — flowers and vines giving way to shadows with eyes. Fenris rolled to his feet, eyes wide. "Behind y—"
"It isn’t real. Have some tea." Anders reached back and waved his hand behind his head, passing it through what looked like an arcane horror. "If it were real, whatever you’re seeing, I’d have lost a hand, which, I assure you, I haven’t."
"I— I can’t—" Fenris crouched, taut, twitching, fingers fluttering and clawing at his palms.
"Calm down, or you’ll black out, and that’ll give you a hell of a headache," Anders warned. "Drink some tea. Lie down. Get comfortable. Let me worry about the monsters, tonight."
"Stop looking at me like that!" Fenris snapped, squeezing his eyes shut and reaching for the tea. "I don’t need your pity."
"It’s not pity. Look again."
"…No," Fenris sighed. "No. Just stop."
"How about I just glare at you in annoyance?"
"I’d like that."
"You’re such a pain in my ass, Fenris." Anders stood up and offered his arm. "Come here. You’re taking my bed. You need to stop standing up, before one of us gets hurt."
"Isn’t your bed cramped and lumpy?" Fenris held out his hand and edged toward Anders until he made contact.
"It’s the most comfortable flat surface you’ll find in all of Darktown, so unless you want to walk home, you’ll take it."
"I’ll take it," Fenris conceded, at last, letting Anders lead him into the back.
"You get comfortable. I’m just going to grab something to put stuff on. Like my ass. I need something to put my ass on." Anders yawned and lit a lamp, snapping in its general direction.
"I never see you do things like that."
"I’m too tired to be pissing around with the wick and the firestarter, at this point." Anders rubbed his face and stumbled back out to get the tea, the salve, and a chair.
"I got you out of bed, didn’t I?"
"Yeah, Fenris, you did. And now you’re in my bed, and I’m not." Anders set the chair beside the bed, piled with necessities. "Chamber pot’s over there. Tell me if you need it. You’re not getting up again, in this condition. Especially not near my chamber pot."
"I can see where that might end poorly," Fenris admitted. "Mage — Anders, tell me about your perfect world. I think I poisoned mine."
Anders tossed a blanket over the elf in his bed and grabbed another chair, putting his feet up on the edge of the bed as he sat down. Reaching under the bed, he pulled out another blanket and wrapped it around himself.
"My perfect world? Self-sustaining communes, embracing all the arts of man, trading with each other for necessarily foreign goods. A world in which every man is judged by his actions, and not the potential actions of ‘people like that’. A world with no slaves. A world in which you and I couldn’t have come to be. A world that doesn’t need us and couldn’t make us."
"You speak of us equally."
"I believe it. We’re functionally equivalent victims of a corrupt system that needs to come down. We’re just on opposite ends of it."
Fenris smiled warmly as something serpentine and blue wound out of the shadows and coiled brightly along the walls. "You’re crazy, mage."
"I know. I’m still right."
"You’re still glowing. It’s… unsettling." Fenris rolled onto his side and pulled the blanket up.
"That’s all you. I guarantee I am not lit up at all, and if I was, it would be blue."
"How offensive would it be if I bought you a bed, once I can see well enough to get out of this one? Something better-built, maybe with a little spring to it and less lumps."
"I wouldn’t be offended. You know, Hawke never even offered." Anders reached for a cup of tea. "It might strongly imply you meant to spend more time in my bed, though, so you might want to watch that."
"An anonymous donation, then, by way of Lirene. For your assistance and your continued silence, on the subject," Fenris muttered into his blanketed hands.
"You don’t have to bribe me. I wouldn’t tell Hawke, anyway. I already said I wouldn’t tell Hawke."
"Fasta vass. It’s not a bribe. Just take the fucking thing," Fenris demanded, crossly.
"…You’re welcome, Fenris." Anders sounded amused.
"I’d like that to continue to be the case. And you’re our healer. What good is a healer who isn’t sleeping well?" Fenris considered that for a moment. "A lot of good, apparently, but how much better is a healer who’s slept well?"
"Sounds like you’ll be funding that research."
"Fucking right I am." Fenris banged a fist on the edge of the chair with the tea on it. "I’ll even clean my kitchen, so you can exercise your Orlesian cooking skills in it. You’d commit cookery for me, wouldn’t you, mage?"
"If you stop calling me ‘mage’, and it keeps you from eating any more questionable mushrooms, I’d seriously consider it." Anders slipped his feet under the corner of the blanket, and Fenris glared. "Hey, you’re in my bed, that I got out of to help you, and my feet are cold."
"And you’re asking me to cook for you."
"My feet aren’t any warmer than yours, you know."
"In case you ever wondered why I spend so much time at Hawke’s, these days…"
"I can think of at least fifteen other reasons, most of them things I would be happier never to have thought of at all, but they do seem to have made the walls prettier."
Anders choked on his tea. "You should try to sleep, while it’s still pleasant in here. This is going to keep on for hours, yet, and if you can sleep through it, you’ll be better for it. I’ll wake you up if you look like you need it."
"Waking up to your face, because that’s an improvement."
"You weren’t complaining, last month."
"I wasn’t hallucinating last month."
"I’ll give you that." Finishing the tea, Anders set the cup aside. "Still, you should sleep while you’re still likely to have good dreams. I’ll try to keep my feet off you."
"Good," Fenris mumbled, the will to keep himself awake draining out of him. "You do that."
Anders watched Fenris sleep, for a few hours, soothing him, when he started to panic in his sleep, with a well-placed hand and some surprisingly on-key lullabies in a language Fenris didn’t speak. Eventually, he drifted off in the chair, half expecting to wake when Fenris tried to sneak out, later.