Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 21
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anders ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N3 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Drunken stupidity, bathtub shenanigans, Anders is possessed of infinite patience
Notes: Artemis needs a bath. Fortunately for him, Anders is there to help with that.
Maybe he did need a cat, he reflected, realising he was still petting Artemis, scratching behind his ears. "What do you say, hm? Should I go fill the bath for you? I’ll even warm it, and get you the good soap. It smells of embrium and basil."
Artemis all but purred under his touches, eyes drifting shut as he nuzzled into Anders’s shoulder. A feather tickled his nose, and he reached up in time to block a sneeze. "You spoil me," he said, enjoying the warmth, the comfort of a body next to his. "And you just want me naked," he teased half-heartedly.
A bath sounded lovely. But so did not moving and sitting here with his nose pressed to Anders’s neck and talented fingers combing through his hair.
"If I just wanted you naked, I’d have taken you up on it, the first time you offered," Anders pointed out. "Mostly, I want you not to leave a big, greasy stain on my pillow."
He scratched under Artemis’s chin and along his jaw. "But, if you want to get naked for me, after you’re all clean and warm and tucked into bed, I’d be happy to discuss it, then."
Extracting himself from under Artemis, without knocking him over, proved an interesting puzzle, but one Anders managed to solve, much to Artemis’s dismay. There had been a pump put in, at some point, in the corner of the next room — near where the cages used to be. It was all laid out for potionry, now. His very own lab, with no one sneezing or coughing or touching any of his work. He could get used to this, he thought, filling a bucket and hauling it through the room several times. He seriously considered getting a hose for things like this. A touch of fire, the good soap, a towel, a relatively clean washrag.
"Can you walk, or shall I come carry you? You’re lighter than your brother. I can definitely sweep you up and carry you off."
More questions about his limbs and their functionality. Artemis blinked down at his legs for a long moment and decided it was worth a try. Not that the thought of a tall, handsome mage sweeping him off his feet was a bad one, but he would save that for Plan B.
Plan A went off to a wobbly start. Anders wrapped an arm around his waist, and Artemis held onto Anders’s coat. The floor didn’t rock as terribly this time, though it still took some manoeuvring to get him near the tub. This time, as Anders helped him peel off his rather-ripe clothing, Artemis didn’t bother with a flirtatious comment. It was best to concentrate on one task at a time, anyway, and as it was he nearly got his foot caught in his trousers.
Anders stepped on the trousers and lifted Artemis out of them. It was just easier than watching the struggle of man vs. pants. After checking for extraneous cloth and making sure they’d really gotten all the clothes off, he helped Artemis into the bath, making sure the man sat down, before he let go.
"Introduce yourself to some soap," he suggested, handing it to Artemis. "I’m going to go take my coat off, so I can wash your hair. Yes, I’m washing it. That’s so you don’t drunkenly drown yourself in my bath. If there’s anything you think I forgot, just let me know. It’s probably safer if I get things than if you try to get up, in your current condition."
The noise Artemis made was either a sound of agreement or a hum of contentment. Maybe something in between. He sat back in the tub and wriggled until he was comfortable. Washing oneself was, it turned out, easier than walking, and Artemis found his limbs functional enough for that.
Anders returned sans coat, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Artemis craned his neck back to look at him. "You really don’t have to do all this, you know," he said. There was a touch of gratitude in his words, and a touch of self-loathing. Maker, he wondered what Cormac would say if he saw all this.
"Of course I do." Anders looked at him blankly, like the thought of doing anything else had never even crossed his mind. "You’ve been drinking yourself into a stupor in what is effectively my living room for the better part of a week. I can’t watch you do this to yourself, any more."
Anders wet his hands and worked them through Artemis’s hair a couple of times, before picking the soap out of his hands. "Besides, you’re right, it’s an excellent excuse to get a good look at a Hawke other than your brother. You’re a lot less dark than he is. I’ve always wondered about that. I’d think he was adopted, but you definitely have his ass."
Artemis’s chuckle turned into another purr at the rub of fingers in his hair. "Cormac takes after our father," he explained. "Though we both inherited the famed Hawke ass. The twins take after the Amell side, mostly. Complexion-wise, anyway. I have no comments on Carver’s ass."
Anders quirked an eyebrow. "Yet you’ll comment on Cormac’s?"
"We’re closer," Artemis replied wryly. "And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s hard not to have an opinion on Cormac’s ass, especially when that opinion is ‘please put it in some pants, I’m trying to eat’." Amazing. Anders had managed to make him undrunk enough to form coherent sentences. Sentences about his brothers’ asses.
"I don’t know, I think your brother’s pants should definitely be off if I’m trying to eat. Assuming it’s his ass I’m eating." Anders was checking for comprehension and coherence, and being ridiculously offensive was usually the quickest way to figure that out. If he got decked, it wouldn’t be the first time, but it would be a quick and easy answer. "I can see where your opinions on the subject might be a little different."
He worked the soap into Artemis’s hair, scratching lightly at the scalp, tugging just a little. It was soothing, having someone else to look after — someone else he had time to look after, as opposed to the ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there of the clinic. He really should get out there at some point today, but Artemis first.
Artemis’s nose crinkled. "You had to say that, didn’t you?" he groaned. "Thanks for that. Can… can you wash my brain while you have the soap?" Not that he was particularly shocked, but it was more the principle of the thing.
"I’m sorry, but you really made it too easy," Anders countered, not sounding sorry at all.
Artemis huffed and rubbed away a bit of soap trickling towards his eye. Anders’s fingers were fast turning him into a puddle of goo. Anders was going to have to pour him out of the bathtub along with the water.
"Here, close your eyes and tip your head back. Move forward just a little." A bit of nudging and shoving, and then Anders poured a bowl of water over Artemis’s hair, wringing it out with one hand, and then rinsing it again. He ran his hand through it. Probably as un-soapy as it was going to get without changing the water. Definitely less greasy.
"Feeling a little more alive?" Anders asked, standing to get one of his robes. The Chasind one was tempting, but that wasn’t going to fly. Not the Tevinter one. Or the other Tevinter one. Not on Artemis. Not now. And then he found his old Warden robe, almost never worn… and put it right back in the wardrobe. Ah, here, this one. Deep green and some sort of fluffy goat-wool or something. He wore it under things, sometimes, to keep his knees warm, on the mountain. "You had me worried for a bit."
"Mm?" Artemis, formerly a mage and now a puddle of goo, struggled to remember how to speak. "Worried?" He hadn’t thought about anyone worrying about him. He hadn’t thought about much at all. That was rather the point. He was fast becoming just sober enough to be embarrassed by that. "Oh, you know me. Takes more than that to take me down." The words and their accompanying smile came out weaker than he would have liked.
His fingers were getting pruny. Anders helped him to his feet and out of the tub. Water tended to make everything more slippery and difficult, but no one was harmed in the endeavour.
Anders, however, came away a great deal more damp. Which was to be expected at some point in all of this. He crouched down and grabbed the towel, which was thankfully dry, and started to work his way up Artemis’s legs, working the blood back into the extremities as he went. Legs, that gorgeous ass, back… And that was where he realised he was standing in the middle of his bedroom, holding his lover’s naked brother in his arms, with nothing but a towel. A dim smile touched his face as he took a moment to appreciate that, and then went back to drying, before he tried to help Artemis into the robe. Perhaps he should have gone with something with front or side fastenings. Something that wasn’t an over the head and pray sort of affair.
"You could just leave it off, you know," Artemis said, half teasing, with a half smile, even as he slid his arms through the sleeves. He’d underestimated how much better he’d feel clean and dry with fresh clothes against his skin. Clothes that smelled like Anders, like the herbs he used, and Artemis found himself pressing his nose into the collar.
Artemis fidgeted with his still-damp hair, brushing it back with his fingers and twisting at the ends. "I, er…" He felt more clear-headed than he had in days, more aware of himself and his behaviour than he’d wanted to be. "Thank you. Anders."
For helping. For worrying. He rather liked having someone worrying over him.
"Come lie down," Anders invited, taking Artemis’s hands and leading him slowly toward the bed. He climbed up onto it and pulled back the tattered blanket and the worn sheet. "Just let yourself relax. You’ve been through some shit, this week, haven’t you. Just lie down and be warm for a little while. It helps. There is nothing that needs you right now, except you."
And how many times had he said exactly that to Cormac, in the last year? Worked every time, too. Cormac would grumble about it, but he’d eventually lie down, and he’d be passed out in a couple of minutes. Worked on one Hawke, why not try it on another? Maybe he’d throw in one of those completely devastating back massages that had earned him such a name, back at the keep.
Artemis did as he was told, climbing under the blankets and all but allowing himself to be tucked in. The sheets were a bit scratchy, but they were warm. Artemis tried to remember how to relax without alcohol, without…
He clutched Anders’s wrist before he could pull away. He throat worked around words, around a question he didn’t ask. All he did was look at Anders, eyes large and blue and fragile. "Stay with me?" he asked, finally.
The words echoed uncomfortably through Anders’s memory, but he simply smiled and slid into the bed behind Artemis, wrapping his arms around the man. "Like this?"
For the first time in months, he was wrapped around a living body that wasn’t Cormac. It wasn’t that he’d given up on getting around so much as that he just hadn’t had time. And before Cormac, he hadn’t had time. He hadn’t had much time at all, since Justice. But, here was Artemis — Artemis who had once taken an interest in him — curled up in his bed, asking him to stay. Tempting? Oh, yes. But, he’d wait and see. If he kept giving, maybe Artemis would keep taking.