Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 12
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D0)
Warnings: Dead slavers, sewers, dick jokes, zero relationship skills, Cormac is still fucked up, Artemis isn’t much better
Notes: A matter of keys. Signs of affection, among broody death elves. A distinct lack of Anders.
Artemis watched the two of them, the easy way Anders spoke to Cormac and lightened the mood, the way they looked at each other. ‘It’s not serious,’ Anders had said. His head was so far up his own ass in denial, it was a wonder Cormac could fit his prick in next to it.
Artemis squeezed his brother’s shoulder. "Dead and bloated, whether conveniently or not, we’ll have all that slaver stink out of there in no time. And then we’ll rid the world of some more slaver stink and teach them all not to mess with the Hawkes." It wasn’t his home quite the way it was Cormac’s, but it was still home, where their mother grew up, where their parents had met. He would do whatever he could to erase that black history from these walls, even if he had to scrub until his fingers bled.
Anders pressed a potion into Cormac’s hand. "Drink this," he said. "And try to save your energy for crushing slavers who aren’t already dead."
Fenris hummed in agreement. Then again, he always had energy to crush slavers. Or stab them. Maybe both.
"Thanks." Cormac still radiated fury, but there seemed to be a lot less seething, as he knocked back the potion and handed back the empty bottle. He knew Anders re-used them.
After a long moment of staring into Anders’s belt buckle, he looked up at his brother. "Hey, Artie? I gotta ask you something. And it’s not just because you’re the best brother ever to come out of Highever."
Cormac slid off the rail and crossed the few steps between them, resting his hand on Artemis’s shoulder as he asked something inaudible to anyone else. He tapped his chest and shrugged.
Artemis’s eyebrows shot up towards his hairline. He glanced at Anders and didn’t bother to hide his smug smile. He nodded and leaned in to murmur something teasing but affectionate in Cormac’s ear.
Fenris watched the pair with narrowed eyes. Mages. Mages talking in hushed whispers. "What are you two plotting over there?" he asked.
"Ask Cormac," Artemis said sweetly.
"Your demise. Obviously." Cormac stared at Fenris, for a long moment and then laughed. "No, don’t worry, it’s not about you. It’s… well…"
Cormac pulled a chain out from under his robe, with a couple of keys hung from it, just far enough apart not to jingle when he moved. He untied one of the keys and held it out to Anders. "This is the key to that door. If you need to run, you run to us."
Not ‘to me’, ‘to us’.
"And if I just need a warm body and a soft bed?" Anders asked hand hesitating just above the key.
"You’re welcome to me, but you’ll have to work out the details with him. And if I find out you made a pass at my sister, you’ll wish the Templars had gotten to you first." Cormac grinned.
"What about Anton?" Anders teased, taking the key.
"He sleeps with a dagger and the dog in his bed. How lucky are you feeling?"
"No, I suppose I know who to run to if I want to get lucky," Anders quipped, winking at Artemis to hide how much he wanted to kiss Cormac right now.
Fenris growled, ears twitching in annoyance. He coughed and cleared his throat when he realized the mages were looking at him. Now it was his turn to avoid eye-contact with Artemis.
Anders rolled his eyes and looped the chain around his neck, tucking the keys under his tunic. Maker, those two were so obvious. "No need to get all growly," he said. "You know you’re welcome to join us."
If anything that just made Fenris even more growly. Artemis flushed up to the tips of his ears. He wasn’t drunk enough for this. Where had he put that rag? He needed to clean.
"Gentlemen, please, there’s enough Hawke to go around." Cormac flashed a smile at Fenris and followed his brother back inside. "I think we still have a few more slavers to toss down the shitter. Who’s helping me carry these?"
"He is." Anders pointed at Fenris, who growled even more irately in his general direction. "Because if I don’t go get something to burn in there, we will never be rid of that stench. Also, lunch. What do you eat, your wrathfulness?"
"Something with nug ham?" Cormac called back, not turning around.
"I wasn’t talking to you, Cormac! I was talking to Fenris!"
"Be more specific!"
"Nug ham does sound good," Fenris conceded, finally making his way past the abomination, to help carry crates of sundered corpse parts. Something about that almost put him in a better mood. Sundered corpse parts, from dead slavers, that were going to be namelessly disposed of in the sewer. "But, apple turnovers sound better. Or tarts, I suppose. Something with pastry and apples."
"Artemis, what do you eat?" Anders figured he could leave off the obvious gibe, seeing as Fenris would probably relieve him of an internal organ or three, if he mentioned that, right now.
Even Cormac let that one lie. Artemis could tell they were all thinking it, regardless, and he grimaced. "Honestly?" he said. "Whatever’s in front of me." And, okay, but just made it worse. One look at Anders, and he could tell the healer was fighting not to say anything. He really, really didn’t need to be reminded of that night. "Anyway," he said, clearing his throat. "I doubt we’ll be finding nug ham and tarts in the sewers. Or at least, no predigested nug ham and tarts."
Anders made a face. "Thanks for that."
"The grossness makes my point no less valid." Speaking of, he wondered if Bodhan had remembered to stock the pantry.
Fenris shook his head. Nothing worked up an appetite quite like disposing of frozen slaver bits, rotten meat stench or no. Except, perhaps, killing them. He wished he’d been here for that part, but he hadn’t met the Hawkes, yet. Hadn’t even known the cellar came down this far, until Artemis opened the door.
"I’m going to the market," Anders announced, in case it hadn’t been obvious, which it clearly hadn’t been to at least one of them. "The one upstairs."
Cormac pressed a couple of sovereigns into his hand as he passed, heading back toward the stairs in question, and Anders tried to hand them back. "Take it. I know where you spend your coin. And look for the little elf girl, up there. She wanders the market with a basket of resins. Tell her I want all the ‘Breath of Falon’Din’ she can sell me. Maybe if I call the dead gods, it won’t be so… ugly, down here."
And that was the sound of Cormac still not being quite right. It would, however, get rid of the stench. The incense in question was a powerful one, and the alienage smelled of it for days, when one of the residents died. "She knows you?"
"She knows me. I’ll let you introduce yourself, but tell her I said hello and yes to Thursday." Cormac slung a twisted metal something in the direction of the door, clearing his brother’s head by a few feet. "I’ve got something on order."
"Something." Fenris picked up the … he thought it used to be a rack of some sort, as it skidded to a stop near his feet.
"Yes. Something. I’m not having a discussion about my incense choices in public."
"Yet you will do plenty of other things in public," Artemis remarked, though he wondered if he should. Technically, that last time had been his fault, no matter how hard Carver glared at Cormac. Anders’s parting smirk said as much before he was waving cheekily and heading up to Lowtown. Artemis cleared his throat. "But yes. Incense. Incense is a good idea, Cormac."
"I’m always concerned when the words ‘Cormac’ and ‘good idea’ are used in the same sentence," Fenris rumbled, hefting the twisted metal ex-rack and throwing it into the sewer, perhaps more gleefully than necessary. It made a few satisfying clangs on the way down.
Artemis went back to scrubbing, ducking each time Cormac appeared with new cargo, no matter how far it flew over his head. He didn’t trust his brother to miss his skull every time. "So what do you think we should do with these rooms when we’re done?" he called out to Cormac as the three of them worked. "Think we could lock Carver down here?"
Fenris snorted. "And position him between your brother and the abomination? Someone will end up either dead or castrated."
"Mm. Likely both," Artemis agreed, cringing.
"Let’s not make me castrate and kill my own brother, hm?" Cormac actually carried the next piece out. Whatever it had been, it had been very large, and bits of chain and gears still jutted from the wreckage. He couldn’t justify trying to throw something quite that heavy. His shoulders were nice, but they weren’t that nice.
"I believe the concern was for you or the abomination," Fenris pointed out, as if he hadn’t been the one concerned.
Cormac just stared. "Please. That’s my baby brother you’re talking about. You really think Anders couldn’t take him in a fight?"
"I think you still think of him as a child, and that’s going to get you killed." Fenris smirked. "And for the record, I can only hope I’m there to laugh."
"You!? Laughing!? That might be worth all the stabbing!" Cormac returned from the sewer entrance and clapped Fenris on the shoulder as he walked past.
"There’s going to be some stabbing right now if you touch me again," Fenris said with the friendliest smile.
Funny that Fenris didn’t seem to mind when Artemis touched him. Then again, Artemis had been drunk in every Fenris-fondling instance, and he vaguely remembered some growling taking place. There was a part of him that was desperate to know what would happen if he touched Fenris while sober.
But not right now. No while they were dealing with frozen slaver-bits and sewers and Anders was shopping for tarts. The door Artemis was scrubbing was almost shiny enough to give off its own light.
"Maybe we could open a bar in the basement," Artemis mused aloud, tone wry to let them know he wasn’t serious. "Put the Hanged Man out of business."
"Yes, because you, cellars, and bottles of alcohol are a great combination," Fenris muttered. He stilled, frozen chamberpot in hand, and tossed Artemis a look over his shoulder. His face was red enough to rival the wine stains they’d only just gotten out of the floor.
"That’s a fucking amazing combination," Cormac cut in, "and you don’t get to start about it, because as I recall, you were too busy taking advantage of the situation to do any complaining at the time."
Defending his brother’s sex life was not something Cormac had ever really seen himself doing, unless Carver was involved, in which case it was less ‘defending’ and more ‘accepting the blame for’. Still, Fenris was so the fuck far out of line, he’d gone orbital with that comment, and no one was allowed to talk that kind of shit about the Hawke brothers except the Hawke brothers.
Fenris opened his mouth to say something about Cormac’s role in the whole thing, how he’d actively assisted in getting his own brother off, but one look at Artemis, and he reconsidered, backing down to a safer point. "At least I didn’t invite myself to someone else’s orgy."
"Hardly an orgy. There were only three of you," Cormac scoffed. "It’s not an orgy until you get to five."
"I cannot imagine there are five people in all of Kirkwall that would want to see you naked," Fenris shot back.
"Good thing I was in Lothering, at the time." Cormac grinned a little too broadly, borderline antagonistically.
Artemis knew that smile. That was his ‘I’m feeling fucking dangerous’ smile, and Cormac was already wound up after tossing around slaver goo. This was the part where Artemis should stand up and calm them down, remind them they had work to do before someone lost an appendage. Too bad he was standing on the far side of ‘pissed off’, himself.
"Are we really talking about this?" he snapped. He had his own watered-down version of Cormac’s crazy-smile, though he didn’t realize it. "Right here? Like this? Because if you are, I’d rather not." He straightened and threw his rag at Fenris’s feet. "Maybe I’ll go help Anders with lunch. That will be one less mage for you to worry about."
Fenris winced. This wasn’t what he had meant or how he’d wanted this to go.
Cormac’s shoulders shifted back as he pulled himself up to his full height, looking down his cheekbones at Fenris. He wasn’t as tall as Anders, but he was a whole lot wider and less amusing.
"C’mere, Artie." Like when they were younger. He held out his arm to his brother. "The broody elf didn’t mean it. And the broody elf had better start explaining what he did mean, or the furniture’s not the only thing I’ll be bending."
"Like you could," Fenris huffed, knowing there was no way out of this one. "It was supposed to be funny, Artemis. I thought you’d throw a rag at me and make that face."
And then maybe he could have gotten something going about abuse at the hands of mages. ‘Oh, rags, is it!? Stupid mages throwing stupid mage-rags at the elf!’ and so on. But, that wasn’t how this had gone at all, and maybe he hadn’t been expecting Cormac, good-times-and-bad-lines Cormac, to quite have this in him.
"I guess you did throw a rag at me." Fenris examined the vile heap of wet cloth at his feet.
"Because it was so hilarious," Artemis said flatly. This? This was why he’d been avoiding everyone. He didn’t need this.
Maker. Without alcohol, he was a neurotic mess. With it, he was the slut to end all sluts. There had to be a happy medium in there somewhere.
Artemis wiped a hand over his face and ducked out from under his brother’s arm. "Can we just… get back to work, please?" This was the part where he distracted himself with cleaning and organizing and generally avoiding the world. Or dying of mortification. Either worked.
Fenris watched him turn away, his own shoulders sagging. Mages. He didn’t know why this particular mage’s opinion mattered so much more than the others’. It was always one step forward, two steps back with him.
Maybe a bar would be a good idea. If there were a bar down here already, Fenris would be too drunk to care.
"You didn’t hit. Maybe that’s the problem." Cormac offered his brother another rag. "Just tag him one in the face, Artie. You’ll feel better, he’ll feel better, and we can all move on."
"I would certainly feel more damp," Fenris muttered, bending down to pick up the rag at his feet. He also held it out to Artemis.
Cormac’s eyes widened. "I think that’s a sign of affection among broody death elves."
Fenris glared at him. It was a sign of affection, but he wasn’t about to announce that to the world, what little of it was in this room. He wasn’t in the habit of volunteering to get struck with disgusting cleaning implements by mages. He wasn’t in the habit of volunteering to get struck by mages. He wasn’t in the habit of volunteering, when mages were involved at all, unless it involved killing them. It occurred to him that he might have regrets, if he ever killed Artemis, and he wasn’t entirely sure he was comfortable with that development.
Artemis stared at Fenris, at the submissive cast of his eyes and the rag outstretched in his hand. The anger leaked out of him like water through a sieve. "Dammit," he grumbled, snatching the rag. Fenris looked up at him, tensing in anticipation of the blow. "I can’t throw the rag in his face like this. Not when he’s giving me those damn puppy eyes." He pressed the rag into Cormac’s hand and used Cormac’s sleeve to wipe off the filth it left behind on his hand. All while smiling sweetly at his dear brother, of course.
"There are no puppy eyes," Fenris muttered, scowling.
"Well, not anymore," Artemis replied. "Now you’re back to that ‘I’m going to murder someone’ look you’ve perfected so well. There were definitely puppy eyes, though. Big ones."
It was unfair how quickly one spiky, broody elf could disarm him.