Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 4
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Carver Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Aveline ♀, Fenris ♂, Isabela ♀, Merrill ♀, Varric ♂
Rating: T (L2 N2 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Zero relationship skills, exercises in pants-free manoeuvring, PTSD, Justice!Anders
Notes: The morning after the night before. Lots of hangovers. A bit of getting trapped in the Deep Roads.
Artemis woke and wondered if he was dead. His mouth certainly tasted like it, and his head certainly felt like it. But he knew he wasn’t when he squinted at the white hair tickling his face and realized it was Fenris’s.
He knew he wasn’t dead yet because he was going to be soon.
Fenris shifted in his sleep and snuffled against Artemis’s throat, lips parted around a rasping breath that wasn’t quite a snore. The previous night and all its drunken… activities came back to Artemis, and he was far too fucking hungover to deal with the tangle of reactions that came to mind. He was also far too fucking hangover to deal with the look his brother was giving him over Fenris’s shoulder.
Cormac’s morning sass degraded almost immediately, when Anders pinched his ass. "No. Absolutely not."
He rolled onto his back in self-defence. "Heal me, first. I am not touching you with anything but my fist, until I stop having a headache and a pain in my ass that I can feel in my lungs."
Fenris woke to the sound of Anders laughing hysterically. Limbs. Human fluff. Mage. And his pants were open, to boot. That actually happened, then. Fenris made an effort to close his pants with a minimum of motion, in the hopes of increasing the deniability of all of this. Nope, didn’t happen, we were all too drunk at the time. You were hallucinating. We were just making fun of Cormac and Anders. That last one seemed almost plausible.
Anton snored on, under the pile of blankets that was only large enough to fit one person.
Artemis’s and Fenris’s gazes met and skittered away. Artemis coughed into his fist and scuttled away a bit. Fenris had been surprisingly warm and comfortable for someone who dressed like a pincushion, and Artemis felt a bit exposed, lying in the middle of the tent in just his nightshirt. "Good morning," he muttered, avoiding another brush of eye-contact by looking about for his pants. Yes, over there, by Anton’s head. His pants. Pants, pants, pants.
"Morning," Fenris rumbled, the pitch rising in an almost-question as Artemis shuffled across the tent on his rump and extricated his pants from the pile of cloth surrounding his snoring brother. The one person who hadn’t gotten laid last night—-oh Maker—-and who had likely heard and seen everything.
Anton mumbled something that could have been another "Good morning" or just more sleep-talk. At least Cormac wasn’t saying anything to him yet.
Right. He wasn’t going to think about that. Nope. He was going to pull on his pants and face the day, hopefully while avoiding absolutely everything else.
A bit of a mournful look crossed Fenris’s face, as he watched Artemis get dressed. Those long, hard legs that had wrapped around his waist, the night — what time was it anyway ? — before, disappearing into grey-green cloth. But, no. Deny, deny, deny, and next time don’t do it in front of everyone. That was his plan, and a solid plan it seemed, or at least as solid as he was going to get before — "Abomination, stop jabbing Cormac in the ass, and get up. I have a use for you that in no way involves you being nude."
Anders just laughed harder. "You don’t know if it involves me being nude or not, and if you want me to get up right now, I can promise you nude is what you’re getting."
Cormac sat up, in slightly better shape than he’d been, minutes before, holding out a faintly glowing hand. "Come here. He’s just being a prick. If he won’t do it, I’ll do it. Won’t be as good, but I won’t have you brooding and hung over."
Fenris took a bit to untangle his armour from the blankets, before he stood up — and there was a regret — and staggered over to Cormac. "I’m not picky."
"Yes you are!" Cormac laughed, wrapping a hand around Fenris’s ankle, and letting the healing wash up his leg. "And thanks for last night. He needed it."
Fenris shook the hand off his ankle and squinted in what he hoped was confusion. "I have no idea what you’re talking about."
Artemis’s cheeks and ears flamed red. He passed a hand over his face and glared through his fingers at his brother. "Ignore him too, Fenris," he said.
"I usually do."
Right. So denial was on everyone’s agenda today, it seemed. He kicked Anton awake. "Come on. Nap’s over."
"Like I got much sleep last night," the blankets groused before shifting, molting off of Anton until the shape under them looked vaguely human. Best to ignore him too.
Artemis stood up and immediately staggered. Okay, maybe standing wasn’t the best idea yet, if his stomach’s one-organ revolt were anything to go by.
"Are you going to throw up?" Anton asked helpfully. "You look like you’re going to throw up."
"I am not going to throw up," Artemis insisted. His stomach gurgled, and he grimaced. "Okay, maybe I’m going to throw up. Anders?" There was no way he was going to ask Cormac for healing.
Fenris hovered as though torn between helping him and backing up to make sure Artemis didn’t puke on his bare feet.
Anders got up and took a blanket with him, winding it around himself as he crossed the few feet to Artemis. "Hold onto my arm, so you don’t fall. Your equilibrium’s going to shift, and I don’t want to drop you on your gorgeous ass."
Cormac threw one of his boots and successfully nailed Anders in the ass with it. "It’s my ass you should be looking at!"
Fenris glared and then looked away. Venhedis. Where had he put his foot-wraps? When had he even taken them off? He would think about his feet, now, because it was infinitely less upsetting than dealing with the jealous burn that had displaced the nausea in his guts. Feet. Feet were a safe subject. No, he was going to choke the life out of that filthy abomination, as soon as they were out of the Deep Roads, and he was less concerned with needing a proper healer, in case of combat. Oh, there they were. Under the edge of the bedroll he’d dragged over them, last night.
Artemis took Anders’s offered arm and closed his eyes at the blue glow of Anders’s magic. It washed over him, first in a trickle, then a rush, and he swayed, grip tightening on the healer’s bicep. He let out a groan of relief that had Fenris’s blood rushing in completely the wrong direction. Feet. Stay on feet. Wrap over one foot then the other.
"You’re a life-saver," Artemis told Anders with a dazed smile. He patted Anders’s arm and straightened, feeling a little less like one of his dog’s chewtoys.
"Yes," Anton agreed wryly. "Things are usually better when there’s no puking."
"Only ‘usually’?" Artemis asked. He certainly wasn’t eyeing Fenris’s back and wishing the elf would look at him. "Are there instances when puking makes something better?" He made a face at Anders and Cormac. "You know what? Don’t answer that."
"There’s a totally innocent answer to that question, but it involves assassins," Anders pointed out, not actually answering the question as he stepped around Artemis to crouch down next to Anton. "Oh, there’s my pants!"
He gathered his clothes from next to the rogue, with a smile that was almost as anti-apologetic as anything Cormac could have mustered. "Let me guess, you’re next on the hangover-removal chain?"
Anton squinted grimly into the face of salvation, and for a moment, he considered telling Anders exactly where he could stuff it. "Unless you want me to be the puking assassin in the party."
Anders actually stood up and got dressed, while he healed Anton. No need to prop up the guy who’s already laying down.
"I feel like you should know you threw your smalls right in my face, last night, like a cheap stripper," Anton said, instead of thank you, setting Cormac off into a fit of the giggles.
"Hey, hey, I still think someone should be paying this guy a lot more than he’s getting scrabbling in the dirt in Darktown." Cormac chimed in. "Probably me, actually."
"Yes, might as well make it official," Artemis drolled. "I guess it’s all on which title you prefer, Anders. The Healer of Darktown or the Whore of Darktown."
"Except the ‘Whore of Darktown’ implies I’m sleeping with all of Darktown," Anders replied, the corner of his lips quirking.
"And this is all of us, looking surprised," Fenris added dryly.
"Now, that just sounds exhausting," Anders said, brows knitting. He was likely going over the logistics.
Which just made Artemis think about last night. Again. He shook his head and made for the tent exit. "Now that just makes me wonder what’s really in your healing potions," he quipped around a nervous laugh. He was careful to avoid brushing Fenris’s elbow with his as he passed.
"Nothing contagious," Anders quipped, fastening his coat.
Cormac finally got up and retrieved his boots, bare-ass naked and clutching a blanket in front of his crotch. "One of these days, you’re going to need to go back into those ancient Tevinter texts and dig up the secret of resurrection, because if you keep on like last night, you’re going to kill me. And it will be an amazing way to die."
Fenris made a disgusted sound and followed Artemis out. "Is your brother always so…" He gesticulated irately.
"Yes," Anton called out after him.
Cormac pulled his clothes on, not without an exceptional amount of pressing the still-bare parts of himself against Anders.
"The two of you could make a living doing this. When we get back to town, you should go propose it at the Rose," Anton muttered, finally surrendering the blankets in favour of the lure of breakfast.
The caves still echoed with the weight of the door slamming shut. Varric’s voice echoed too, in harsh, desperate roars of his brother’s name, fists beating a tattoo into the impregnable door’s surface. The brothers Hawke and their companions stared at the door in varying degrees of shock.
Artemis and Anton exchanged looks with each other and with Cormac. Artemis wouldn’t say that he could never be annoyed enough with his brothers to lock them in the Deep Roads, but he sure as shit wouldn’t do it over a piece of lyrium. This was a joke that had gone on too long. It had to be.
Except the only punchline came in Varric’s voice breaking.
Incongruously, Artemis had the thought that, if they died down here, at least he got to screw Fenris first.
Fenris was not amused by any of this. Not the being locked in, not the dwarf’s panicked shouting, and sure as shit not the way the abomination — their healer — curled in on himself, eyes too wide, face all pale and tragic. Oh, no. No, no. This would not do. He knew that look.
Moving across the cavern, Fenris squeezed Artemis’s wrist, and just kept walking. He grabbed Anders by the face, and stopped Cormac cold, with a foot in his chest. "Anders. Look at me. Do you see me?"
Anders made nothing but small, panicked sounds.
"Look at me. What colour are my eyes, Anders?" Fenris went on.
"He’s done this before," Isabela pointed out, impressed.
"Don’t think too much about why," Aveline grumbled, checking the wall for anything that might open the door. "Carver, help me over here."
Anton joined them, clever fingers searching for a switch, a pressure plate, some way to open the door from the inside.
Artemis hovered next to Cormac, knuckles tight on his staff, and looked to his older brother for guidance. "Is he alright?" he asked, indicating Anders with a nod of his head. He thought of Anders’s healing magic, of the way it seemed to wash over and through him, setting everything to rights. He didn’t know how to do that for Anders.
Luckily Fenris knew what he was doing. He held Anders’s stare, kept his breathing slow and steady and obvious.
Anders blinked up at him, eyes wide and unseeing. "Green?" he said at length.
Anton cursed and shook his head at his brothers. They weren’t going out the way they’d come in.
"That’s right. They’re green." Fenris tried to smile just a little. "Ok, here’s what we’re going to do, Anders. You like Cormac, right? I want you to step over here with me and hold onto Cormac. He’ll keep you safe."
Trying to ignore the sweat pooling in his palms, Fenris nudged Anders toward Cormac, looking expectantly at the other mage. Cormac was quick to respond, both to his brother and to Anders. "Come here, pretty thing. You’re fine. We’re going to be fine."
Anders grabbed on to Cormac’s shoulders like he might never let go. "We’re down in the dark."
"It’s not so dark in here, right Artemis?" Cormac put on that inappropriately sassy smile that only he loved on himself. "Look at all that glowing red shit. We could practically have a party in here."
"No, no, no. We’re down in the dark, and I can hear them."
"Oh, shit," Varric groaned. "He’s a Warden. The Warden is losing his shit."
"He’s not losing his shit, Varric," Fenris snapped. The look on his face strongly suggested that, for all the abomination annoyed him, now was not the time to question Anders’s sanity. "He knows where the darkspawn are, and the darkspawn know where the surface is, from here. He’s not losing his shit. He’s getting us out of here."
Artemis looked at Fenris, at the conviction in his eyes and the squaring of his shoulders, and felt his own breathing steady in response. In that moment, he would obey anything that man—-elf—-asked of him. "He’s right," he said, following Big Brother’s example. "We’ll be alright." His hand hovered over Anders’s shoulder, unsure whether touching him was a good idea just now.
"Well," said Aveline as she turned back to the others, the set of her jaw squarer and stiffer than usual. "There’s no way that door is opening. The only chance we have is to continue further in."
Anton let out a dry, nervous laugh. "Can’t say this is how I thought today would go."
"Considering how we woke up, I suspect none of us did," Artemis added with a forced smile. Normalcy. That was what they needed. And normalcy with the Hawke brothers meant inappropriate humour.
"I woke up in the arms of a man who wanted to plunder my already-looted booty," Cormac sighed. "And now he’s going to save us all. The next time, Anders? Just do me. I owe you at least twelve, if you get us out of this alive."
"But, I’m not alive," Anders protested, still not quite all there. "Didn’t you know?"
And then, there was Justice, radiant and blue. "I WILL LEAD US," he declared.
Cormac did not look entirely well, for a long moment. There was a joke, there, but not in front of Justice. Justice who, at a certain point, always stepped in and stopped Anders from speaking of certain things, from doing certain things. And, admittedly, from dying horribly. Still, at times, Cormac wondered what the fuck he was doing. It was like dating a woman with a controlling husband. Except not a woman. And not actually dating.
Fenris crossed his arms and glared at the floor.
"Oh. Yeah," muttered Carver. "This is much better. Whose idea was it to come down here again?"
"Don’t even start, Carver," Anton said, while everyone glared at Carver in agreement.
"COME ALONG," boomed Justice. He pulled coldly away from Cormac and went back up the stairs, past the altar where the lyrium idol had sat, his blue glow eclipsing the traces of ethereal red. The group trailed reluctantly after him, letting the Fade spirit lead the way.
Artemis timed his steps to walk beside Fenris, shooting the elf sidelong glances. "Thank you," he said, keeping his voice low. "For before. For… Anders. That was impressive." He wanted to ask Fenris how he knew to do that, but there an obvious answer, which was one Artemis doubted he’d want to hear.
"Another of my talents," Fenris replied. "It is not so impressive. What is more impressive is how few people think to try it."
The elf failed to raise his eyes from the ground, before him, deep in that space in which only the end mattered, and the means could be drunk away, later. He watched Carver’s heels, noticing how the youngest brother slowed to help the blood mage. He didn’t like her. He didn’t trust her. He didn’t want her anywhere near him, to an even greater extreme than that piss-damned irritating abomination, but he would admit that she and Carver seemed to settle each other.
Isabela brought up the back, one arm around Varric, and the other around Aveline. Every few steps, she’d crack some completely inappropriate joke as loudly as possible, and up front, Cormac would howl with laughter. Eventually, Cormac started to sing. It was one of those things he did relatively well, even if it was always the dirtiest of drinking songs he could remember at the moment.
"I put my hand upon her toe," he started, and Isabela screamed and joined in. Loudest rogue in the Marches, Fenris thought.
"This isn’t a Lowtown pub crawl!" Aveline protested, but Isabela drowned her out.
"Whip it in, whip it out, quit fucking about," they sang, letting the music prop up the mood in the tunnel. Or tank it. Either or.
Anton sang at the top of his lungs, nudging Carver and Artemis to encourage them to join in. At the front of their troupe, Justice let out a sigh in all capital letters. "THIS SQUALLING SHALL ALERT DARKSPAWN TO OUR PRESENCE."
"Spoilsport," Anton said.
"It’s probably safer," Artemis shrugged. "You don’t want me singing. The darkspawn would think I was one of their own."
"You’re not wrong," Anton agreed. Then he heaved in a breath and continued singing anyway.