Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 43
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Artemis Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Cullen ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Barf, zero relationship skills, Anton is so full of shit
Notes: Fenris finally gets his foot out of his mouth. Anton covers for his brother.
Artemis woke up to a sour taste in his mouth and a roiling heaviness in his gut. And his head… oh Maker. He could feel his pulse in his temples. He groaned and curled onto his side, trying to find an angle that quieted his complaining insides, but the movement just made his stomach more rebellious. Eyes squeezed shut, Artemis pressed his face into the pillow and tried to breathe until the nausea passed. It didn’t pass. It just sort of sat there in warning.
Someone cleared their throat nearby, and Artemis realised he wasn’t alone. "Anders?" he croaked, because who else was going to be at his bedside? Unless it was Cormac, come to wake him with ‘dog kisses’, in which case Artemis couldn’t be blamed for his murder. Not today.
‘Anders’ didn’t respond except for an irritated huff, a distinctly un-Anders-sounding huff. Artemis finally opened his eyes.
Fenris had been sitting in that chair for hours, drinking whatever it was Anders had left for the two of them — and he’d insisted it was for both of them. It had been salty, but largely inoffensive, and the healer had been right. He was substantially less creaky and angry than he might have been otherwise. Something about that much cordial always made his joints ache, the next day. Wine was so much more pleasant in the aftermath, which he’d learnt was really just him.
But, here he was, and here Artemis was. And he was still holding that stupid red jewel. He’d taken it off and been playing with it all night, watching the light splinter through it, feeling the edges…
"She told me to stop making you cry," he said. "No, I should start with ‘the healer said you should drink this’." He pressed the glass he held into Artemis’s hand. "There’s more. Don’t worry about it."
Smart, Fenris. That’s what he’s going to be worried about. "I’m… I’m here."
Artemis blinked at the glass in his hand, blinked at Fenris. He had a feeling he’d missed something. Or a few somethings. He gingerly pushed himself up onto one elbow to drink whatever was in the glass. The taste was familiar and put Artemis in mind of the last time he felt this terrible, when Anders had literally picked him up off the floor.
Artemis eyed Fenris warily as he drank, waiting for him to turn hostile but only seeing him fidget. By the time he set the glass down, his mouth still tasted disgusting but it was a little less dry.
"You’re here," he said slowly, because that was a concept he could grasp. Fenris was here. Physically. That was a fact. "Okay." Artemis blinked around him and wondered which was less dangerous, sitting up or lying back down. "I have… so, so very many questions right now."
Well, mostly those questions were subsets of the one question: what the actual fuck?
"I, well…" Fenris huffed and looked at the jewel in his hands. How did people do this? What had Serendipity told him? "I’m sorry about the house — I mean, no. I’m sorry I …" This was terrible. This was no way to begin a conversation. Apologising. To a mage . He sighed. Apologising to his mage. "I should have trusted you. I do trust you."
He squirmed awkwardly. "I… well… there’s a window on the balcony that looks out over the garden, and … it made me realise how much I miss you. No, I— Not the window. I just… She told me to stop making you cry. I want to try that. I, um. This… No. Yes. Maybe."
Fenris wished he could just make sense and stick with it, but his ears twitched and his palms sweat, and he just kept second-guessing himself. It was just as hard at Serendipity said it would be. He wanted it to be as easy as Tallis made it look. "This was called the Heart of the Many, but it’s mine, now. And I want you to have it."
He held out the jewel, dangling from that stupid gold chain and looked pleadingly at Artemis, hoping he’d understand at least the gist.
Artemis took the jewel, still looking terribly confused, and Fenris let the heavy chain drop into his palm. Fenris was being sputtery and fidgety and awkward, which was odd, because Artemis was usually the one being sputtery and fidgety and awkward. It took Artemis’s whiskey-logged brain a painfully long time to piece together what was going on here.
"You’re… giving me jewellery?" His thumb smoothed over the red gem in his hand. Jewellery Tallis had given him. "And you… Fenris?"
Something about the mention of a garden nagged at him, but here was Fenris with his unfairly green eyes and twitchy ears saying the words Artemis had been hoping to hear for months, albeit in a slightly more garbled, disjointed fashion than he’d imagined. He sat up, wanting to reach for his elf, but gravity was not his friend this morning.
"I, um." He swallowed. "Don’t… take this as a reflection on what you just said, but… ch-chamberpot?" His stomach heaved as Fenris scrambled for the bucket.
"Please don’t throw up on my feet!" Fenris shoved the bucket in the correct general direction, shoved his feet under the chair, and hoped for the best.
Artemis, in fact, did not hit his feet or the floor. The great lot of what still smelled boozy that came out of his stomach ended up mostly in the bucket, except what spattered across Fenris’s fingers.
"Fasta vass!" Fenris swore but held the bucket still with one hand, reaching out to smooth Artemis’s hair with the other. "Are you done?"
Artemis groaned, hugging the chamberpot to him. His forehead felt clammy under Fenris’s fingers. "I, um. For the moment." He swallowed heavily one more time, still looking a bit green in the face. He looked up at Fenris with a sheepish, pained smile. It would be a miracle if Fenris still wanted to patch things up between them after this, but… but Fenris was still here, wasn’t he?
Fenris continued to brush back his hair, and Artemis leaned into the touch, eyes half-lidded. "I… I am sorry about the house, too," he said. "I should have asked you first. I just… I just wanted you safe."
"Fool mage," Fenris sighed. "I do not need to be protected. I’m the bodyguard, remember?"
Fenris’s hand stroked the side of Artemis’s face, and he wanted to keep looking, to absorb every detail, but there was still vomit settling between his knuckles. "I need to find a towel. I promise you I will be right back in this chair in just a moment. With luck, I won’t even have to leave the — wait, this is your room, isn’t it? My hand. What is it safe to clean that with?"
"Anything, honestly," Artemis said, words a tired slur. "Sheets. I can just sneak it into Anton’s laundry. He knows a place that can get out the most… interesting stains." Artemis’s hungover sweat and drool had made something of a mess of them anyway, and Fenris wiped his hand on a corner of bedsheet and made a note to have them changed for him. Bodhan could probably help with that. Yes.
Fenris looked up at his mage. "Mm?"
"The thing with Anders," Artemis began. The hand still clutching the jewel started to fidget with it. "You know it’s… It was always you."
"And Tallis, because Anders," Fenris admitted. "I had to try. You were … I gave up hoping. She gave me that and told me to stop making you cry. That I’d know what to do with it. So, here. I’ve given you a heart on a chain. Take that as you will."
He picked at the edge of the sheet. "I’ve been in this chair all night. You don’t look like you’re getting up any time soon. I… May I… Will you let me lie down?"
Fenris asked for nothing more. That would be enough, for now. Later, maybe, he would ask if Artemis would like to be held, if only because his chest felt hollow without this mage pressed against it.
Artemis fought hard to rein in his smile, and Fenris was relieved to see those eyes were warm again, like he remembered. "All right," Artemis said, "if you don’t mind sweaty mage sheets."
Fenris took the chamberpot from him and set it back on the floor within easy reach. "I have suffered worse," he said with a small smile, climbing over Artemis’s legs to curl up on the other side of the bed.
Still moving slowly, cautiously, Artemis wriggled closer, wrapping an arm around Fenris and tucking his head under his chin.
"I want you to know that you smell like sex and vomit, and I do not care at all," Fenris muttered against the top of Artemis’s head. "You are here, with me. That is what matters."
He decided the asking might be unnecessary and slung his leg over the mage’s hip. His mage’s hip. "I have missed you. Let us not do that again."
The first thing Cullen noticed was that the inside of his mouth tasted like he’d been licking wet dog, with a faint aftertaste of overripe cherry. He gagged, considered sitting up, and then decided against it. Something happened last night, and he couldn’t remember it, other than Anton trying to get him to come back inside. Something about a statue. The incredible pain in his ass was another suggestion about what might have gone on. Had he gotten that drunk? Had they done that outside ?
No, no, no. Not outside. They couldn’t have. Half of Kirkwall had been at that party. The coat closet was one thing, but the garden ? Well, Knight-Captain had been nice while it lasted.
He groaned and heard a shuffling of pages from beside him. Anton. Of course. He was in bed with Anton, who was reading something.
"Morning, Sunshine," Anton said, peering at him around the book. Cullen wasn’t sure if it was his head, but there was a softer edge to Anton’s usual cocky smile, the look in his eyes almost warm. "And how are we feeling?"
Cullen’s mind filled with adjectives. "Confused," he said, still smacking his lips against the bad taste in his mouth. "A bit panicked. Possibly mortified."
And more than a little nauseous, but he thought that might be bad form to mention, at least until it reached the point of an emergency.
"The only people who saw anything had already seen your gorgeous bottom, on another occasion. You are not the new rumour on the street, today, as I think we’ve reserved that for Anders. All that ‘Warden stamina’ and up to no good with the very heir of our family. Can you imagine?" Anton had yet to stop smiling. "Mum’s going to have kittens, of course. But, Cormac’s been looking for a way out of the limelight for years, now. We’ve just provided him with an out. Or we’ve made it worse. I’m not sure which. He might become legendary, overnight, off this one, and I will just laugh."
"Your brothers," Cullen covered his face and groaned.
"Two brothers, one sister, and a Warden. There was some concern when you vanished after being so very drunk. And I think I have to get you drunk more often if you say things like you did, last night!" Anton pressed his lips to Cullen’s forehead.
"Said?" Cullen squeaked, eyes going wide and terrified. "Oh Maker. What did I say?" Some words filtered back to him, and he — no. No, he couldn’t have said that .
Anton was biting his cheek to keep from laughing, and Cullen’s cheeks flamed hot. "You were just very, ah, ‘descriptive’," Anton said, voice shaky still with that suppressed laugh. "Your use of metaphor was particularly impressive, especially considering the circumstances."
More words came back, and Cullen groaned and hid his face with his hands, skin flushed hot enough to catch fire. Words muffled against his palms, Cullen groaned, "Did I say the word ‘meatstick’?"
"You did. And it made mine throb." Anton grinned a little too widely. "You also managed to beg to be rammed full of throbbing meat pole, something something manhood, something something creamy release. It was all terribly inspiring. You never talk to me like that, when you’re sober!"
Anton was going to hold on to that illusion that he’d been with Cullen the night before, until he couldn’t any more. He really wasn’t sure how to break it to him that the throbbing meat pole had belonged to his older brother, who had also been too drunk to see straight.
"And I probably never will! Oh, Maker!" Cullen groaned into his hands again, and this time pulled them away, sputtering and huffing. He clawed at the foul slime that had settled on his tongue in the night. "This is what happens to my tongue when I say things like that!"
"Sorry, Sunshine, that’s just what happens when you drink that much." Anton reached for something on the bedside table and passed Cullen a small bottle of brown fluid. "Take a sip of that and swish it around your mouth. It’ll clear right up. Cinnamon, for the morning after. Tiny sip. It’s strong."
Cullen trusted Anton’s judgement in these matters. He clearly had more experience with them, and cinnamon was certainly preferable to wet dog. He handed back the bottle, licking his teeth. "I am never drinking again," he said solemnly.
Anton pouted. "But I rather liked drunk you."
"I’m serious!" said Cullen, though his expression looked more pleading than assertive. "Never again! I’m Knight-Captain, for Andraste’s sake, there is certain behaviour that is…"
Anton shut him up with a finger under his chin and a brush of lips. It was a fleeting thing, there and gone, but it had Cullen’s words sticking in his throat. "What about drinking with just me?" Anton asked, finger still stroking under Cullen’s chin.
"You really liked that?" Cullen asked, still looking miserably embarrassed.
Anton reached off the side of the bed and then handed Cullen a towel, bearing a few damp and sticky spots. "I got up before you did," was all that he said.
Cullen sputtered and struggled to find a response to that. It was not the answer he’d been expecting. It was not the answer any sane or reasonable person would be expecting, but this was Anton. Anton who tilted his chin up again, leaning in close enough to breathe against his lips.
"I really, really liked it."
Oh Maker. Where were his words? Where was his tongue ? "I, uh." Cullen cleared his throat, eyes owlishly wide. "I… I suppose… i-if it’s just you and me, and… I had the proper incentive…"
Anton grinned, shoulders shaking in a soft laugh. They both knew Anton had just given him plenty of incentive. "I’ll see what I can do to persuade you," he rumbled anyway, punctuating this statement with another gentle brush of lips.
Maker, but Cullen adored this man.