Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 24
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Zero relationship skills, sibling rivalry, Cormac is taking things well, Fenris is not
Notes: The morning after. Anton goes to get Fenris to help him stab things, and Cormac congratulates Artemis.
Once again, Aveline didn’t have the time to go check on something unpleasant that was going on, up the coast. More slavers, she thought, or maybe it was just smugglers this time, but the reports didn’t sound good. So, she handed it off to Anton, when he dropped by to ask if anyone had been ‘looking for him’, in the kill or capture sense of ‘looking’. He was, as usual, inappropriately flirtatious, and she dragged him out of the keep by the ear and kicked him precariously close to the top of that very long flight of stone stairs back down to Hightown. He blew kisses and fucked off, before she decided to do worse.
Fenris was an obvious choice, for this venture. Stabbing assholes along the coast was one of the elf’s favourite things to do, as far as Anton could tell. And maybe he’d drag Varric and Isabela along, as well. Nothing like a team of underhanded bastards to take out the underhanded bastards you didn’t want lurking.
He picked up an appropriate bribe, as he passed that Orlesian bakery, and then pounded on Fenris’s door. He could have just let himself in, but he figured it would take a much more substantial bribe to excuse that.
The door was wrenched open with a force that no door deserved. "What?" snapped the growly elf holding the doorknob. He blinked, eyes narrowing, when he saw Anton, and he looked over Anton’s shoulder and around them as though expecting someone else.
Anton, knowing that was Growly Elf for "hello", smiled and waved, holding up the package of pastry. "Good morning!" he chirped.
Fenris growled in reply. Likely not a ‘good’ morning for him, then. Anton wondered if any mornings were. "If this is about your brother, he can go fuck himself."
Anton squinted at the elf. He had quite a few brothers, and it was difficult to tell which brother was most likely to piss off Fenris on any given day. "Which brother? What did they do this time?"
"You mean to tell me you don’t know?" Fenris scoffed, contemplatively eyeing the box of pastry.
"I don’t know shit. I’ve been up to my balls in my own business for a week and a half. I know Cormac’s not getting laid, because I can hear that when it happens. I think Artie might be pissed about something, because the dishes rattled, the other night, and I think Carver’s been out with some girl or something, because I haven’t seen him all week." Anton opened the box of pastry and helped himself to the first one, in exactly the way one should, when bringing gifts of food. Always helped to demonstrate it wasn’t poisoned. He offered the open box, and Fenris grudgingly accepted an apple tart.
"Yes, I’m sure Artie is pissed. I hope he has the sense enough for that to be at himself." Half the tart disappeared into Fenris’s mouth, and he muttered something that might have been, "Wretched mages always sticking their mage-fingers in other people’s mage-free affairs."
He swallowed and tried again. "If you’re not here about that, what are you doing here, and why am I being bribed?"
"Bribed? No! Please. That’s a gift, from one friend to another." Anton nudged Fenris’s ribs with his elbow in a way that would likely get that arm torn off if he continued. "A friend who would help another friend. By killing people." That was, as far as Anton was concerned, the very definition of friendship.
Fenris hummed and narrowed his eyes at the Hawke in front of him. "So you buying me apple pastry is on the same level as me killing people for you?"
"This is correct."
"And you see no fault in this logic?"
"Not at all."
Fenris sighed and took another bite of apple tart. "Fine," he mumbled. "Who am I killing?"
"We — you, me, Varric, and Isabela — are going on an all-expenses-paid tour of the Wounded Coast, to sweep up some garbage suspected of smuggling elven slaves." Anton smiled like a Rivaini carnival barker. "And this is why I bring you apple tarts. In a just world, showing up on your doorstep with a job like this would be considered tribute, but this is not a just world."
"Do not speak to me of justice," Fenris snarled, grabbing another tart and storming into his house — Artemis’s house — the house in which Fenris lived, no thanks to meddling mages. He left the door open in that way that suggested he intended Anton to follow him.
"Shall I speak to you of Anders, instead?" Anton joked.
"Not if you expect me to travel up the coast with you, at this hour," Fenris grumbled, finding the few bits of his armour he wasn’t already wearing, and strapping them on. He picked up his sword and then eyed the pile of weapons beside the bed, contemplatively. "Sword or axe?"
He laid the sword aside and hefted an axe, before tossing it aside and picking up another one. That one didn’t suit him, either, and he went back to the sword. "Sword."
While Fenris muttered over his weapons, Anton munched on his tart and used his foot to poke at a decomposing body by the door. "Still decorating with corpses, I see," he said through a bite of pastry. "What did you call this one? Harry?"
"Darius," Fenris replied distractedly, strapping on his sword of choice and flexing, making sure it sat at the right angle. There may or may not have been wine involved in the naming of said corpses, but Anton already knew that.
"I’m surprised Artie hasn’t manhandled you into cleaning them out yet," said Anton, looking around. "It’s the sort of thing that would drive him nuts."
Fenris wheeled on Anton with a growl, fingers twitching for his sword. "This is my house and not his, and I will not be ‘manhandled‘ into anything!"
"Whoa, hey." Anton held up his hands and took a step back. "That must’ve been some hell of a fight you two had, if he’s rattling the dishes and you’re still shouting about it. I know Artie’s a neurotic disaster area, and I know what a blighted pain in the ass he is — he’s my older brother, after all. So, you know, if you want to talk about it, I’ll hear you. I’ll even throw for drinks."
"It was not a fight. If it were a fight, you would be lacking a brother." Possibly two brothers, if Fenris were honest with himself, and he had no doubt he’d have stabbed Cormac first, on principle. "I do not need him, nor anyone else, mucking about in my personal affairs. I do not need a mage to run my life for me."
Fenris patted himself down, checking for the essentials, and then pushed past Anton and headed back downstairs.
"You may not need it, but he does. It’s not personal. He does that shit to everyone he likes. He can’t help it." Anton followed Fenris down and out.
"Perhaps he should learn to," Fenris growled, fingers flexing in their gauntlets.
Anton eyed the stiff line of Fenris’s back as he followed, shaking his head. Well. At least Fenris was plenty fired-up enough to kill some slavers.
Cormac had been camped out in the library, for a couple of days, just to keep track of Artemis. If he didn’t hear from Artie or Anders shortly, he was going to go down there, he decided. And then the floor vibrated. Ah, Artie was fine. And if he read that right, Anders was probably having a great time, too.
He fetched himself another piece of cake and sprawled out in that grand green chair, with his feet up on the table, reading some trashy romance novel he’d found in one of the shelves. Something utterly ludicrous involving ‘love that wouldn’t die’ and reanimated corpses. Nevarran trash. He’d have to pass it to Bethany, later. She’d never stop laughing.
And there went the floor, again. Wow. They were really getting up to something, weren’t they? Eventually, Cormac fell asleep in the chair, book on his face, plate in his lap. He’d know if Artemis came upstairs, if only because his feet were still on the table, and that could not stand.
Artemis shuffled upstairs hours later, hair mussed and gait stiff. He’d worked up an appetite and headed for the pantry, only to spot his older brother passed out in the chair, his feet where they didn’t belong. He set aside his quest for food for the moment to shove Cormac’s feet off the table, sighing in frustration at the smear of dirt he’d left behind. He grabbed the plate off of Cormac’s lap while he was at it. He’d drop it off in the kitchen while he looked about for a rag with which to clean off the table.
"Hmrf?" Cormac woke up as his feet hit the floor. Right. Artemis. "Hey. I see you’re still standing, after that. Good time?"
Cormac pulled the book off his face and leaned forward to wipe off the table with his sleeve. It wasn’t like he meant to go out further than the back garden wearing that. Artemis looked a little rough, but after the amount of drinking he expected was involved, that probably wasn’t too surprising. Still, his cheeks looked a little thin and he was moving like an old man.
Artemis’s face flushed red to the tips of his ears. It occurred to him that the rest of the house would have noticed the ‘earthquakes’ and that Cormac would know exactly what that meant. It seemed he didn’t need to be as loud as Cormac to broadcast what he was doing. "Er… I don’t know what you’re talking about," he told the plate in his hand, because denial had worked for him well enough so far.
Food. Right. He’d come up here for food. Not to be prodded by his nosy older brother who apparently knew everything he’d just done. Well. Maybe not everything, he decided, thinking about the stone knob and the way it had made Anders squirm. The thought made him smirk as he turned back towards the pantry. It had been a very educational day.
"Don’t give me that. You did Anders. Either that or you found his collection of toys, but I’m betting you did him, and given that you’re standing up under your own power, I’m also guessing you were the one doing the doing. Not to cast aspersions on his skills or anything, of course." Cormac laughed. "Congratulations. You needed it, and he’s … well, you know what I think of him. Did he show you the electricity trick?"
All right, so escape to the pantry wasn’t an option, not after that. Artemis stopped and turned back around. "You underestimate me, brother-dear," he said. "You think you’re the only one who can handle the flagpole?" He was still just this side of ‘fucked stupid’ to say something like that.
Cormac’s eyes got big. He looked like they might fall out of his head, if he opened them any wider. "You… seriously?" An astonished and somewhat reverent grin cracked his face, as he stood up and hugged Artemis, clapping him on the back. "Maker’s aching balls. My little brother sat on the flagpole, and is still standing. I’m impressed. I’m proud. Good for you."
"Standing is a relative term," Artemis said, teetering a bit when Cormac clapped him on the back. "And so is sitting. Sitting is not a thing I’ll be doing for a while." It was more than a little awkward to think that he and his brother had sat on the same knob, but he was tired enough to let it go. "Did… did you feel the floor shaking? Did I break anything?"
"The floor? Yeah, some. That’s how I knew." Cormac shrugged, keeping a hand on Artemis’s arm, just in case. "Nothing’s broken. Nothing even fell. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t in one of the rooms over the cellar."
He looked at the cellar door and then back at Artemis, contemplatively. "Tell me you made him send you up here in this condition, or I’m going to go down there and kick his ass. … After I get you something to eat. I’d say sit, but don’t. Here, lean by the fire, where it’s warm. I think this is a celebratory moment, so I’m advising cake. Possibly also some of the roast chicken, because you look like you haven’t eaten all week, and you could probably use something a little heavier. I know what passes for food, down there, and even if you were eating it, it still wouldn’t count as eating."
"I slipped away while he was sleeping. You don’t need to fuss over me, Cormac," Artemis muttered, even as he smiled tiredly. Yet he set the plate back down, on the table, and did as Cormac suggested, leaning against the mantle, cheek pressed to stone. He rather liked the idea of food coming to him rather than the other way around. "Mm. Chicken. Chicken does sound good."
"I’m your brother. Who the fuck else is going to fuss over you?"
Cormac grabbed the plate and stepped out, returning a few minutes later with a different plate, loaded with chicken and potatoes and a large slice of cake. His other hand contained a recognisable vial, which he held out, first. "In case you’d like to sit down, some time, today."
He was, after all, entirely too familiar with that whole not sitting down thing. And the not standing up thing. And the waking Anders up in the middle of the night because okay, that was just a little worse than he’d thought, and it had just gone from a pleasant ache to bloody murder thing.
Artemis smiled tiredly and took the vial first, uncorking it and swallowing the potion in one go. He could still feel Anders, a dull ache inside in the form of his knob. He wished he knew some healing spells of his own, but he supposed that’s what older brothers and abominations were for.
Still leaning against the mantle, he took the plate from Cormac’s hand. It was far more food than he felt he could stomach just then, but there was something sweet in the gesture. As he chewed his chicken, Artemis wondered what he had missed this past week or so. Or however much time had passed. It was all a bit hazy. He opened his mouth to ask about Fenris, only to snap it shut the next moment. Dangerous line of questioning, that.
"How is… everyone?" he asked instead, awkwardly.
"Anton’s up the coast, according to Aveline, and that means he’s probably got Isabela with him. Bethy’s been hanging around the Chantry, mooning over that holy dipshit from Starkhaven. Mum hopes she marries him. I hope he falls off a cliff. Carver’s been … out. Girlfriend or something, probably. He’s doing that moody ‘it’s none of your business’ and ‘you wouldn’t understand’ shit, again, like that one time with that girl from Redcliffe. I’d say I haven’t been getting any, because you’re hogging my lover, but I’d be lying." Cormac shrugged. "Aveline’s pissed off, Varric’s writing another book, Mum’s … trying to reclaim the grandeur of her youth, or something. I haven’t seen Merrill around, lately. I should probably check on her, and make sure she hasn’t been dragged off to the Gallows or something."
Artemis noticed that he didn’t mention Fenris. Unsaid, his name still hung there awkwardly in the air. "So, the usual," he said, poking at his potatoes. "Good to know I didn’t miss too much."
He didn’t realize how empty his stomach was until he’d had a few bites of food. His stomach gurgled at him, finally voicing its complaint as he demolished the chicken. He was going to collapse after this, he just knew it. It was a good thing Cormac was there to keep him from falling over.
"Nah, everything’s about where you left it. Nothing’s on fire, nobody died. I made sure nobody was looking for you, mostly because I didn’t want to have to answer any questions that might arise if they found you." Cormac snickered quietly and rubbed his cheek.
"Okay, I have to ask. Did you get his shirt off? Tell me you got his shirt off. I’m dying, here. The only time he took it off for me, we were drunk and it was dark, and I just … don’t remember. I get the feeling he’s got a horrible tattoo or something." He sat on the arm of a nearby chair, keeping an eye on how much wobbling Artemis was doing. "Sure as shit can’t be a scar, with the way he talks about the one on his leg."
Artemis frowned, nibbling at the cake. "No, the shirt stayed on," he said, and wasn’t that a disappointment. "I wasn’t about to ask, not after…" He coughed into his hand. Not after awkward conversations about flagpoles and earthquakes. If Cormac didn’t know, he doubted he was ever going to. "Oh well. I was naked enough for the both of us."
Yep, he was tired. Definitely tired. He was in serious danger of falling asleep with cake in his mouth, and that was something he doubted Cormac would let him live down. He set the half empty plate down on the table before he dropped it.
Cormac got up and hefted Artemis over his shoulder, without asking. He’d done it enough times, over the years, to one or another sibling. Passed out sibling over one shoulder, everything else in the other hand. Crouching, instead of bending, he picked up the cake. "You’re going to bed. You look like you’ve been trampled by a full team of oxen, and I’m not letting you sleep it off on the floor, however hilarious it might be to watch you fall on your face. I can watch you fall on your face, later, when you’re drunk."
He headed for the stairs to the floor above.
"Cormac!" Artemis squawked, wriggling in his brother’s grip. "I do have legs, you know!" Legs that weren’t likely to hold him up for long, but he had his pride, after all. He grumbled and watched the floor recede behind them as his brother carried him up the stairs.
"Knock it off! If I drop you on the stairs, neither of us is going to be happy."
They made it to Artemis’s room with little further incident, but a great lot of grumbling, and Cormac dumped his brother on the bed, setting the plate on the reading table. "Cake’s for breakfast. Eat it before you try to stand up. Trust me."
"Bossy bastard," Artemis grumbled, even as he burrowed into his pillow. Maker, but he could sleep for a week. If Cormac said anything in response, Artemis didn’t hear it. He was asleep before he finished pulling up the covers.