Title: The Spirit of Meow (2/4)
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Fenris ♂, M!Hawke ♂, Anders ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Grown-ass men talking to a cat, expletives, cat pee
Notes: It’s not a demon! It’s a piss spirit!
One more chapter. Just one. Lied, it’s two. There is strangely little wine in this story, all things considered.
Fenris woke up scrabbling at the blankets, as Hawke — presumably Hawke, anyway — hammered at the door. "Get off me, sloth demon," he hissed at the cat curled up on his chest.
The cat pinned him with a glare as it rose up in a way he thought meant it was going to leap over his head. So, he waited for it to do so. Instead, it peed on him. That, apparently, was what displeasure looked like.
Grabbing the cat by what seemed to be the terribly convenient cat-grabbing flap just above its shoulders, Fenris stormed downstairs and slammed the door open. Grabbing Hawke by the front of his extremely fashionable robe, Fenris lifted the mage off his feet and shook him. "Your demon-cat pissed on me," he snarled.
"I have ham?" Hawke held up the bag, and Fenris dropped him, turning back into the house, but leaving the door open.
"What did you do?" Hawke asked, following the elf in and closing the door behind him. Fenris did, in fact, appear to be dripping around the midsection.
"I called it a sloth demon. Which it is." Fenris held the still-glaring cat out to Hawke, who took the mangy-looking thing gently into his arms.
"It’s not a demon. Do you really think I’d bring a demon here?" Hawke stroked the cat, soothingly, bag from the market still clutched in his hand.
Fenris glared, utterly unamused. "Sometimes, Hawke, I wonder if you’d know a demon if it was eating your ass."
"Anders isn’t a demon, either. He’s got some Fade difficulties. You have some Fade difficulties. His difficulties are just independently intelligent." Hawke shrugged and offered the bag. "Neither of them are demons, but they are both possessed. By spirits. Not demons. I did not give you a sloth demon."
"What kind of spirit just pissed all over my chest, then?" Fenris snarled, snatching the bag and opening it.
"The kind that objects to being called a demon, obviously. It’s a cat. Answers are a little limited."
"Then how do you know it’s not a demon?" Fenris demanded.
"Is it offering you anything? Tempting you in your dreams?" Hawke asked. "Because I can tell you it wasn’t trying to lure me into its clutches all week. It’s a cat, Fenris. It’s doing cat things. But, with a spirit in it."
"A piss spirit," Fenris growled, returning his attention to the bag. "That is an extremely large amount of ham."
"It is. Look under it."
"And that is a bag of apples. Are you trying to bribe me?" Fenris squinted intently at Hawke.
"Yes. That’s kind of the point, here. And that’s how you can tell it’s not a demon. If it was a demon, I wouldn’t have to bribe you." Hawke stared back, dead-eyed and tight-lipped. "What makes you think it’s a sloth demon, anyway? Cats being cats, I’d have thought maybe pride."
The cat reached up and dug its claws into Hawke’s lip.
"Or rage. I’ve heard stories of a rage demon that possessed a cat. Took out three Templars," Hawke joked, eyes watering.
The cat chuffed and retracted its claws.
"Thank you, Cinnamon Bun."
Fenris occupied himself with fishing an apple out of the bag. Only the best one would do, and it kept him from looking at Hawke. "It curled up on my arm, and I fell asleep. I had no intention of sleeping, then."
"That’s a cat problem, not a demon problem. I didn’t believe it either, until Anders showed me." Hawke shrugged. "Non-possessed cats have the same effect, especially if you pet them."
"I was petting him. He made a strange rumbling sound, and then curled around my arm. It didn’t feel like magic, but I was overcome with sleep." Fenris sounded completely confused by the experience.
"The word you’re looking for is ‘purring’." Hawke eyed the cat suspiciously. "Were you purring for him?"
The cat opened its eyes wide and blinked. "Mew?"
"Is that envy I see, Hawke? Does the animal not make such sounds for you?" Fenris was going to hold this over him forever.
Hawke took a deep breath, like he might reply loudly and at length, and then all the air rushed out of him, and his shoulders sagged. "Just means you’re taking good care of him. It’s important. Anders will be back soon. He’ll tell you what happened."
"Why can’t you tell me?" Fenris asked around a mouthful of apple.
"For Anders’s safety, I can’t tell anyone. He’ll be safe, once he’s back."
"You believe I would have anyone to tell?" Fenris recoiled like he’d been slapped.
"No, I don’t think you would, even if you did. But, most of your windows are broken and your cellars are nearly as deep as mine. I can’t take the chance." Hawke rubbed the cat’s belly, smiling sadly. "He’ll be home soon. We’ll tell you as soon as he’s safe."
"I’m going to regret ever having heard your name, aren’t I?" Fenris sighed. "Very well. You keep us fed, and I will look after your fuzzy piss-spirit. Although one more stunt like that, and it’s getting its very own room in the back of the house."
"Give me your clothes, Fenris. I’ll have them cleaned. Probably end up better than rinsing them in your bathwater."
Fenris looked surprised for a moment. Like so many things about being a free man, the idea of having his clothes cleaned had never occurred to him. He had rinsed them in rivers so many times on the run, that when he had his own bath, it seemed an extraordinary luxury not to be standing nude in the wild, waiting for his clothes to dry. "This I will do."
With a subtle twitch at the corner of his lips, he made his way up the stairs, only to return, a little while later, dressed in a tattered Nevarran dressing gown, that had probably come with the house, a bundle of black cloth tucked under his arm.
"This is your only set of clothes?" Hawke asked, trading the cat for the bundle.
"I have one other, but it is still cold and damp." Fenris shrugged, cradling Cinnamon Bun in his arms. "Laundry day."
"I’ll bring these back in the morning. Fastest I can have it done." Hawke shrugged, apologetically. "If you need anything, send for me. I’ll take care of it. Thank you for doing this. There’s no one else I’d trust to look after him properly."
"What about Aveline and Donnic?" Fenris asked, in complete agreement about the rest of their companions. Isabela and Varric lived in a tavern, and cats were right out, under the circumstances. He wouldn’t trust Merrill with a goldfish. Asking Sebastian for anything would be a mistake. And Anders was … indisposed.
"He’s allergic to cats, or she would have." Hawke rubbed his forehead with his knuckles. "Thanks again, Fenris."
Hawke took his leave, leaving Fenris alone with the cat, for the second time.
"Ham?" Fenris asked, conversationally. "I left the bag upstairs. I will refrain from calling you a demon, if you would be so kind as to refrain from pissing on me."
The cat reached up and… Fenris was pretty sure it patted his cheek. No claws.
"I’ll take that as an agreement, then, Bun." A small smile settled on Fenris’s face, as he headed up the stairs. "If Hawke’s buying us ham, I intend to eat until I can’t. I should think you’d like to do the same."
"Mrrf," the cat replied.
And so, they lay in front of the fire eating ham, Fenris telling foolish stories of how he learnt to be free. A comedy of errors, and the cat chuffed and sneezed at all the right parts, occasionally pressing its nose against Fenris’s hand to ask for another slice of ham.
As they sprawled, both just a little past too-well-fed, Fenris learnt more of the nature of cats. Petting was a good idea. Poking would start a fight, but not a vicious one. Poking the cat in the face with its own tail would result in a lot of posturing and an all-out assault on his hand. Still, no blood was drawn, on either side, which showed a remarkable amount of restraint from all involved.
Hours passed with little naps, storytelling, and rolling around on the exceedingly questionable floor. Fenris didn’t much mind — the robe was probably unsalvageable, anyway, especially after the cat got a claw stuck in it a couple of times. It didn’t matter what shape he wound up in. There was no one to impress, except this small fuzzy creature, who had so little to say, and seemed so easily entertained. Fenris found a lightness in himself, that no one would know but this cat. It seemed a secret shared.
The next day came, as did Hawke, bearing more food and clean clothes. It went much as did the day before — cuddling the cat, promising that Anders would be back soon, and offering to bring more supplies the next day.
As days went by, the bribes extended to nearly filling the pantry, even as Fenris and the cat stuffed themselves silly, and out into new clothes and household goods. "I need you to take good care of him. He’s very important," was all Hawke would say, when asked.
Days became weeks, and Hawke looked more and more neurotic, with every passing day. The cat tried to soothe him, and Fenris offered what little sympathy he had — not that he was heartless, just that he had no idea what was going on, and Hawke still wouldn’t tell. Still, Fenris was beginning to lose faith in Anders’s survival, and he could tell the same thought was likely weighing on Hawke. Bloody-minded apostates, both, so similar in so many ways, but that Hawke was less obnoxiously revolutionary, and therefore more tolerable.
Finally, Fenris made an offer.
"Hawke, I’ve thrown out corpses, in the last week, that look better than you do, right now. Let me make things somewhat more presentable. Stay with us, tomorrow night. I can see that Bun calms you." It was a stupid offer. What good would the cat do? Hawke had his mabari for company, and probably Isabela, as well.
But, Hawke threw an arm around Fenris, pulling him into a tight hug, the cat still cradled between them, in the other arm, purring. His shoulders heaved, and he failed to make any coherent sounds for a while.
"Hawke. Mage. Stop touching me. It makes my skin crawl."
Hawke made some apologetic sounds and pulled back, passing Fenris the cat, as he blotted his eyes with the base of his thumb. "Tomorrow?"
"Night. I hope you don’t sleep in the nude, but I suppose I do have those sleep robes you brought me, in case you forget your own." Fenris held the cat easily, as if it had always been his, and the cat purred loudly at the idea of Hawke staying.
"You know I’d sleep on your vile corpse-adorned floor. You don’t have to —"
"What will we do, if you get sick, while we have no healer?" Fenris shook his head. "Tomorrow night, Hawke. Give me time." Time to get used to the idea of you sleeping in my bed.
"Tomorrow, then." Hawke went to let himself out, pausing with the door open. "Fenris —"
"Thank me? Yes, I know. You’ve said it every day since this began."
"I know this isn’t easy. Thank you, again." Hawke pulled the door closed behind him.
"Well," Fenris addressed the cheerfully purring bundle of fur in his arms, "that was unexpected of me. I suppose we have our work cut out for us, Bun. Just the one room, I think. Let us do this before regret takes me."
So, they cleaned the bedroom, Fenris doing most of the work, while Cinnamon Bun directed from his perch on the foot of the bed. Fenris told tales of learning to steal and learning when not to kill. And ever so slowly, a room emerged from under all the filth, complete with the fresh bedclothes Hawke had provided and Fenris had still not used. It seemed a waste to put such nice things into a room where it still rained through the ceiling in a few places. He’d moved the bed out from under the holes as soon as he’d moved in, though.
While the room was not as clean as Orana could have made it, it was almost unrecognisable, in comparison to its earlier state. At last, Fenris threw himself onto the bed, with a tray of cheese and meat and fruit — Hawke had been feeding them quite well — and invited the cat to take what it wished, as he stuffed his face with the rest. Food, a clean bed, and a companion who would speak no ill. The entire situation seemed surreal, and he did wonder if he wasn’t just trapped in some demon’s hold. But, as Hawke had said, if it were a demon, what need would he have for bribes.
After a bath, he changed into something clean, and enjoyed the strange sensation of lying in, rather than just on, the bed. The crisp sheets against his toes, the smell of new, white cloth on the pillows, and the cat that curled up in the middle of his chest. Tomorrow, the cat would sleep between them, but for tonight, Bun belonged in what had become his usual place.