Jun 302015
 

[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 116
Co-Conspirator: TumblrMaverikLoki
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anton Hawke , Cullen , Serendipity , Jethann
Rating: E (L2 N4 S4 V0 D0)
Warnings: Misunderstandings, Fereldan jokes, Anton’s garden of delights
Notes: ‘Maker’s … I am not allowed to put an expletive in this sentence’: the Hawke-filled adventures of Ser Cullen Rutherford. PUT DOWN THE PEN, VARRIC!


The day had been quiet, thus far, for Cullen. Just the usual reports and a few meetings. No disciplinary actions, no rioting over lyrium rations, no mages trying to escape. A relatively pleasant afternoon, until the messenger arrived.

"Ser Cullen?" the girl asked, holding a note in one hand. "I’m only supposed to give the message to Ser Cullen."

"I am." Cullen had a bad feeling about it, as he held out his hand.

"You’re wanted at the Blooming Rose, in Hightown, Ser Cullen, ser," the girl said, pressing the note into his hand. "The man there said it was very urgent."

"What’s the man’s name?" Cullen asked, opening the note.

"I don’t know, ser, but I heard a one call him Lord Dog." The girl shrugged and waited, as Cullen read the note.

‘It’s your recruit, Evans,’ the note read. ‘He’s making an ass of himself, and the girls are afraid of him. You need to come up and get him. Don’t send someone. Come yourself and show the people the Order’s got its head on.’

That was fair enough, he supposed. With the way they’d gone through officers, the last few years, he should really make the public point that he was still available and still in charge. Cullen stood up. "Tell Lord Dog I’m on my way."

"Yes, ser!" The girl bolted out the door as Cullen checked his buckles and got his sword.


Cullen marched into the Blooming Rose, careful to keep his shoulders square and his expression stern so that anyone who saw him knew he was there on templar business and not for his own… interests. Anton saw to his interests. Anton was his interest.

Cullen hadn’t entered this… establishment… since that mess with Wilmod a few years ago, but tonight it was rowdier than he remembered. The tables were full, cramped even, a few chairs overturned. Evans was easy to spot — and hear — with his raucous laughter and the Sword of Mercy emblem on his chest. He’d hounded one of the girls into a corner.

Hands clenched into fists at Cullen’s sides. The man was here, in full templar plate, bringing disgrace to the order. "Ser Hamond Evans!" Cullen’s voice boomed across the room.

Evans’s spine stiffened, and he turned to see who called him, ready for a fight.

"You bring disgrace upon the Order. An order which exists to guard against the evils of magic, and how do I find you but perpetuating other evils on people you are meant to protect." Cullen’s shoulders squared, but he didn’t cross the room. He didn’t need to. He stripped off one gauntlet, snapped his fingers, and pointed to the ground in front of him.

"Knight-Captain! I— It’s not what it looks like! I was just in for a little fun…" Evans tried to extract his foot from one of the flipped chairs.

"It’s exactly what it looks like!" Jethann called, from the top of the stairs.

Cullen spared the elf a glance, and then a second when he recognised the man standing next to him. Anton grinned and waved, leaning with his elbows on the railing.

‘Lord Dog’. Maker, he was an idiot.

Cullen turned back to the recruit, deciding he’d figure out how to react to that later. "Well, your ‘fun’ is over," he said, voice carrying. "Outside. Now."

Evans shrank into himself and into his armour, like a frightened turtle, and picked his way across the room.

Cullen crossed the room, in the other direction, at last, to speak with Madame Lusine. "I apologise on his behalf. I intend to make it clear this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. If you see any of my men causing trouble, please send a messenger, and I’ll take care of the problem." He wrote his name on a napkin. "Send me a bill for any damages, and I’ll see that it’s paid. Again, I’m terribly sorry about all this."

"Oh, don’t you worry, Knight-Captain. We get your boys in here all the time, and most of them are sweethearts. Except that Alrik, but I heard he died. Don’t suppose we have to worry about him again." Madame Lusine patted Cullen’s hand. "It’s good the Order’s finally taking a good look at itself. I know some folk have been hesitant to speak up, and that just encourages the bad ones — there’s not many, but they’re bad enough to make an impression."

"Any complaints you have or hear should come straight to me. I suspect people are much more likely to talk to you than to come to me. Nature of the business." A faint blush darkened Cullen’s cheeks. "I’ll go deal with Evans. He shouldn’t give you trouble, again. And… let ‘Lord Dog’ know I’ll be back for him, in a few hours."

"It’s true, then?" Madame Lusine asked. "He doesn’t talk about it much, but we hear things."

"I’m sure that depends on what you’ve heard." Cullen offered a shaky smile and made his way toward the door, glaring balefully at Anton, on his way out.


Jethann drew another card, placing it face-up on the table. "Angel of Death!" he announced. "Let’s see how badly you two lost."

"You say that like you haven’t lost every hand so far," Anton tutted, a slow smile curling his lips as he laid out his hand. "Three Serpents."

"Four Songs!" Serendipity crowed, slapping her cards onto the table. Anton and Jethann groaned as she cackled, scraping up her winnings.

Anton sat back, taking a few peanuts from the bowl on the table and popping them into his mouth. "Cheater," he teased between bites.

"Scoundrel," Serendipity countered, throwing a peanut at Anton’s face. Anton stretched in his chair and caught it in his mouth, smirking as he crunched.

The sound of heavy boots on the stairs attracted almost no attention, until Jethann glanced to the side and realised exactly who was coming up the stairs, and what that expression threatened. "Ah, Tony, dear? Isn’t that your templar?"

"Come to play a hand with us, then, Cullen?" Anton asked, grinning, as he stretched one arm over the balcony rail. "One silver says I get Denier’s drink," he said to Serendipity.

"You’re on." She grinned, eyes never leaving Cullen. "Well, hello, Knight-Captain. I never imagined we’d see you here for anything other than business, but that’s already been handled!"

Anton’s fingers flicked and there was a round of cursing from below. Serendipity slid the silver piece across the table, wordlessly, and Jethann shook his head. Cullen paused at the top of the stairs, looking completely confused, as he took in the scene. Cards? He’d expected something at least a little more risqué. There wasn’t even any clothing on the table — and he was damned if he’d be caught playing strip Grace again, any time soon.

"What are you doing?" Cullen asked Anton, watching as his fiance plucked up another peanut.

"Twenty silver says you can’t do it again," Jethann said, peering over the railing.

Anton grinned and stretched out his arm. "You’re on. And what does it look like I’m doing, Captain?" he asked. "I’m playing cards with two of my most charming friends and dropping peanuts into drinks for money." He dropped the peanut, and there was another, louder round of cursing.

Jethann ducked back behind the railing, holding up a hand to stifle his laughter. "That wasn’t his drink!"

"Such a small target?" Dips replied. "Still worth twenty silver."

Cullen shook his head and rubbed his forehead. "No, I… I mean, what are you doing here?"

"As opposed to somewhere else I could be doing the same thing? Ah! That’s right. There is nowhere else, in this town, that I could be." Anton smiled lazily, holding out his other hand to Cullen. "You know me as a man who makes a lot of money doing a little as possible, yes? This is part of my ‘as little as possible’."

"But, I thought your brother—" Cullen started.

"I don’t live out of Cormac’s pocket. That would be rude. He handles most of the expenses related to the house, but the rest of our extravagant lifestyle is my doing, and it has to come from somewhere," Anton explained, smile still firmly placed. "I play cards, quite frequently. Sometimes here, sometimes at the Hanged Man, almost always with travellers and merchants, unless we’re waiting for someone to beat. Which we are. Sometimes, we get people who are just here to take me for a few sovereigns. One of them actually did, once. I don’t play him, any more."

"That Orlesian, right? The Comte de … wherever the shit he was from." Jethann flicked his hand dismissively, when he couldn’t remember the name.

"Oooh, I didn’t like him, anyway." Serendipity shuddered, gathering the cards to shuffle again.

"That’s the one." Anton nodded. "You thought I was here for other reasons, didn’t you? If I wanted excitement, I wouldn’t need to come here for it."

"Reeeally?" Jethann eyed Cullen contemplatively.

"Oh," Cullen replied intelligently. It was ridiculous how relieved he was to hear that. "I apologise. I just… I assumed…" He gestured helplessly, feeling his cheeks heat. "Usually when someone, ah, comes to… such a place, it is for a specific purpose."

"You’d be surprised how many people come here just for the food," Jethann said. He tapped his lip as he considered his cards. "You should try our Monday night special while you’re here, Knight-Captain. Comes with free entertainment." A wicked smile curled his lips, and Cullen somehow flushed darker.

Anton saw the look on his face and bit his lips to keep from laughing. "I don’t think Ser Cullen is feeling quite that adventurous tonight," he said, "even if the stew is delicious."

"Ooh, is it stew night?" Serendipity asked. "I love stew night!"

Cullen stood by their table, stiff and awkward in his full plate, and Anton craned his neck back to look at him. "Come on," he said. "Sit down. Have some peanuts. Maybe play a hand or two?"

"That… no." Cullen shook his head. "I can’t. I’m still dressed from work. How would that look? I stand here, and I’m just checking facts. I sit down, and suddenly I’m a customer. I can’t. I just… I needed to know."

Serendipity patted Anton’s hand. "You know what to do, Tony. We can amuse ourselves."

"Thanks, Dips." Anton stood, holding a hand out to Jethann, who shook it. "I hear we’ve got some Tevinter merchant ships coming in on Saturday. You in?"

"Oh, I wouldn’t miss it!" Jethann’s grin was almost savagely delighted.

"If you’ll both excuse me, I believe I have to introduce the Knight-Captain to the Hawke definition of ‘excitement’." Anton offered his elbow to Cullen, who gave him an exasperated look and did not take it.

"You have to tell me if I was right about that bench," Serendipity said, shooing them away from the table. "But, later. Tell me later, after you’ve had time to really get to know it."

"‘Introduce’ me to the Hawke definition of excitement?" Cullen asked, following Anton down the stairs. "Introduce? What have we been doing all this time?"

"Nothing quite like this," Anton assured him, smiling in a patently unreassuring way.


Cullen knew the gardens were large but not just how large. He’d spent most of the last party behind a ficus, and Anton hadn’t given him a proper tour until now. He marvelled at the artistry, at the weaving of trees and flowers on either side of the flagstone pathway. He also noted the statuary was a great deal… sturdier than what was there before.

"This is lovely, Anton," he said, honestly. "But… when you said ‘excitement’ I wasn’t expecting the garden. Do you remember the last time we tried for some ‘excitement’ in the garden?"

"Goatilda is penned in," Anton said, waving his hand. "Your underthings are in no danger of being eaten this time."

"The statuary is reinforced, the goat is penned, and we are… going to enjoy the shade of one of these lime trees?" Cullen guessed, looking around. "It’s really quite lovely, but when I hear of you and excitement together, this is a bit more subtle than I’ve come to expect."

"Ah, but the subtlety is half the fun." Anton smiled and spread his arms. "The goat pen is not, as you might recall, the back of the garden, as it seems to be. I know you saw those plans — you helped me with them. There are other delights in this garden, if you can find them. Pick a path you like. I’ll follow."

Cullen studied the ground near the goat pen more closely. The flagstones just in front of the gate seemed to trail off artistically, winding around the corners, until the paths met what seemed to be a wall of greenery. He picked a path and followed it, finding the solidity of the wall to be merely an illusion and very good placement of a hedge.

"You’ve brought back the hedge maze!" Cullen sounded terribly amused by this.

"Less maze, more interesting," Anton said, checking a few branches. "Keep going…"

At the end of the long and winding trail, Cullen found a small clearing ringed with roses, a reflecting pool in the centre, and several small stone benches around it.

"Definitely less visible from the house," Cullen noted, walking around the little garden. The benches all had what looked to be inset dials on them as well as barely-visible circular cuts in the stone, and the stone at the front and back reached the ground, making them seem more pedestals than benches, on a second glance. "What’s this for?" he asked, crouching and tapping on one of the dials.

"Twist it and find out," Anton suggested, sitting on the corner of the next bench.

Cullen turned the dial, watching as the traced circle turned into a cover that sank in and slid to the side. As he twisted it again… that… no. That couldn’t be… "Anton, is that… Am I looking at…?"

"Yes?" Anton asked, feigning ignorance. "What is it?"

Cullen fumbled for words, syllables choking in his throat. He should probably stop staring at it. Shouldn’t he? Yes, he should. "A knob. Your bench has a knob."

"Multiple knobs, technically," Anton said, gesturing at the other circular cuts in the stone. "But yes. You twist the dial to, um. Twist the knob." He bit his tongue to keep from grinning. "So what do you think? Still too subtle for you?"

Maker. Cullen was still looking at it. He pulled his stare away. "Subtle? Ha. Well. As for what I think, I’m not sure what opinion I’m supposed to have regarding furniture with genitalia. I… um." He looked back down and — nope, still a penis. Stone penis. Attached to a bench.

"No need to be shy," Anton said. "You use it just like any other bench. By sitting on it."

Cullen’s cheeks were red again — he knew it — and he wondered if they’d ever been any other colour in Anton’s presence, the way this man carried on.

"Or maybe you’d like it if I sat on the bench, first?" Anton suggested, slinking closer and loosening the laces on his shirt. "If I sat on the bench, and then you sat on my lap, maybe?" The shirt ended up somewhere in the roses, and Anton started on the laces for his trousers. "Or you could sit first, and I’ll show you what I meant by ‘excitement’. But, I think you want the one to your left. It’s not quite as big. The one to the right is bigger."

Cullen tried not to look at Anton, but his eyes landed on the bench. He tried not to look at the bench, but his eyes lingered on Anton’s half-naked body. "It’s a good thing you proposed to me before I learnt the depths of your depravity," he joked, voice a little higher than he expected. He cleared his throat. "I don’t know if I could have said yes to— to all this… What would people think?"

"People would think you were a very lucky man. And anyone who thought otherwise should be advised to get their own house in order, before casting aspersions, because they’re full of shit." Anton’s voice was unexpectedly strong, right along with his opinions on the subject. "And if they knew any such thing about you, it would be because they’d encountered my delightful garden, and then they doubly wouldn’t have room to talk, don’t you think?"

Cullen’s mouth opened and closed a few times, as he considered that. Anton was right, of course. It wasn’t really anyone’s business, and if it became their business, it said more about them than about him.

"But, we’re not here to discuss other people, are we, Knight-Captain? I thought we were here to discuss excitement, and the depths of my depravity, which you seemed all too happy to marry, when it merely involved coat closets and scaling the wall of your tower." Anton raised his eyebrows and paused for a long moment. "Pick the one on the left," he whispered, loudly, after a bit. "Thank me, later."

Cullen reflected that there was a time when their ‘closet activities’ had been scandalous enough. But that was before the goat and — Maker help him — the corset, and before he’d fallen head over heels for this man. This insane man with the depraved benches.

"I… all right. I will… try your bizarre furniture." Try. There was no one here to see this. No one except Anton, and it was Anton’s fault to begin with. "Just… um. Give me a hand with this plate mail, will you?" It was awkward enough to take off when he wasn’t fumbling all over the place.

"Happily!" Anton got in the way as much as he helped, pressing his body closer than was practical, fingers caressing what they could under each piece of armour. At least they were working towards a common goal, that goal being Cullen’s nakedness.

"Do I even want to know where you got these?" Cullen asked, his laugh just this side of nervous as each piece of armour coming off left him more exposed.

"Oh, it’s Tevinter craftsmanship," Anton answered, his smile almost gleeful. "Rather ingenious, isn’t it? Expensive, but worth every copper."

"And you’re going to go cheat the merchants at cards, this weekend. This is your idea of business sense?" Cullen perched on the knob-free corner of a bench, to take off his greaves and boots.

"It’s perfectly good sense. They know I spend an outrageous amount of coin, and the more I take off them, the less goods they’ll have to carry back, because I’ll be buying the goods with the coin I just won. And I never take them for that much. Always spend more than I’ve taken. Just… willing to go for the better and more expensive models, after I win a few hands, and do you know what the markup is on Tevinter goods? It’s not like they’re actually losing money." Anton shook his head and laughed, grabbing Cullen’s tunic and standing with it, tugging it over his head.

"So, you’re convincing them to give you a discount, by taking it from them at the card table." Cullen tried to smooth his hair, with one hand.

"More or less, yeah." Anton grabbed Cullen’s hands and pulled him to his feet. "You’ve still got clothes on. I should fix that," he said, with a smile, unlacing Cullen’s trousers and sinking to his knees to tug them down. He nuzzled the edge of Cullen’s smalls, dotting kisses along the line where cloth gave way to skin. "I should get grease," he muttered against Cullen’s skin, but made no move to get up. "That’s already out here, too. Self-contained little pleasure garden."

Cullen let out another high-pitched laugh. "Self-contained… you really planned this out, didn’t you?"

Anton grinned, tucking a finger into the waistband of Cullen’s smalls and teasing the skin there. "And you’ve only seen part of it," he said with no small amount of pride. "I’ll give you a proper tour later, but the flowers closer to the house were a rather big hint. So were the lime trees."

Cullen still couldn’t decide if he was more dismayed or impressed by all of this. He ran a hand through Anton’s hair, smoothing it back, as Anton tugged more insistently at his smalls, sliding them down, down his thighs. Anton paused to kiss the newly exposed skin there.

Cullen wriggled away from Anton long enough to step out of and kick away his smalls. "This… grease. I don’t suppose that’s built into the benches too?"

Anton wiggled his eyebrows and pressed one of the flowers engraved on the front of the bench, oil spilling down the petals to fill his hand. "I may not like magisters, but the Imperium has some incredible craftsmanship."

Cullen watched as Anton freed the smaller stone knob and stroked the grease onto it. This was something he was actually going to do, wasn’t it… getting buggered by a rock in some secret sex-garden. What had his life become? Maybe he wasn’t ready to marry into a noble family, after all. He’d heard and read stories like this, but he’d always figured them for outrageous fictions. But, Anton hadn’t been born to this, either, so maybe they’d read the same books, and Anton had decided to make those outrageous fictions real. That, he decided, was actually kind of charming. As was the idea that Anton might have done this for him — however much he might fail to appreciate it.

"Notice the shape of the bench? There’s more than one way to sit on it. If I were to join you, we could sit side by side or facing each other, and it would be just as comfortable." Anton smiled up at Cullen and slipped his slick fingers between Cullen’s legs. "Let me work you open, first, so it’s easier," he said, fingers sliding along the crack of Cullen’s ass, as he fluttered his tongue against the tip of Cullen’s knob.

Cullen sucked in a breath. "Easier. Right." He still wasn’t entirely sure about this, but Anton’s fingers and tongue made a good argument. Best to stop thinking, really. If he thought too hard about this, his head was going to explode, and — oh — Anton’s fingers did feel lovely right there.

Anton took his time teasing him, coaxing him open, and slowly, slowly Cullen relaxed. His knees were jelly by the time Anton slid his fingers free, and by then Cullen felt like he needed to sit down. Which was, he suspected, Anton’s plan all along.

Rising to his feet, Anton steadied Cullen by holding his hips, his smirking lips meeting Cullen’s. "Ready?" Anton murmured. "We’ll take it slowly."

Cullen didn’t trust himself to say anything intelligible, so he nodded. Ready was subjective, but if he didn’t try the thing now, he wasn’t ever going to. He held on to Anton’s arms as he eased himself down, and Maker, that was cold! "Of course it’s a Tevinter design," he muttered, angling himself against the stone. "It’s not freezing cold if you’re a magister."

Anton grimaced. "I’ll get a rune for that. I didn’t even think…" He paused, still standing between Cullen’s feet, holding his hips. "Do you want to try again, after I get that fixed?"

"If I don’t do this, now…" Cullen breathed, as the cold stone slid into him. "That’s — that’s really cold. That’s really quite really cold." He shivered, fingers digging in to Anton’s forearms, as he rethought the wisdom of this entire idea. But, he was already halfway there, so he tried to relax and eased himself down until he was sitting on the bench.

"What if I warm you up, hmm?" Anton purred, stepping closer and pressing himself against Cullen’s chest. His fingers tangled in Cullen’s hair, tugging gently to tilt that uncertain face up to look at him.

Cullen wrapped his arms around Anton’s hips and conjured a smile for him. Well, this was certainly… different. Not that it was the first time he’d sat on something of that, er, shape, but stone was much less pliable than flesh and this wasn’t quite like sitting on Anton’s knob.

As he adjusted, Anton distracted him with another kiss, this one lingering, his fingers digging through curls to massage Cullen’s scalp, his nape, and Cullen sighed at the attention.

"Still cold?" Anton asked, lips against lips. His hands trailed down Cullen’s neck, down his chest.

"Less so," Cullen admitted, shifting his hips experimentally. Still colder than Anton’s knob. Still more solid than Anton’s knob. "Have you… used this bench before?"

"Not this one. One like it, though. I, er…" Anton laughed and stepped back a bit, so he could tug off his boots. "It was summer, when the merchants came, and they didn’t mention the runes weren’t included, but I did have the opportunity to test most of the equipment I had installed, here. This is my warning to make sure nothing else is missing any runes. I bet it’s something about the import restrictions on magical items through Kirkwall. I’m so sorry, I should have checked." Anton’s trousers followed the boots, and he set his knee on the bench, to one side of Cullen. "But, I’m sure if we get you warm enough, it’ll stop being so cold. You can’t possibly stay cold if I’m hot enough for both of us."

Cullen groaned and rested his head on Anton’s abs. "Anton…"

"Too much wit, not enough warm? Let’s fix that." Anton climbed across Cullen’s lap, kneeling on the bench. Kisses followed kisses, and Anton’s hands darted teasingly over Cullen’s skin.

"You are…" Cullen murmured between kisses, only to trail off with a laugh and a shake of his head, unable to find an adequate adjective. Or finding too many, some flattering, some not, but all incredibly, exasperatingly Anton.

"I am what?" Anton prompted, teasing with a press of his hips. "Hot? We’ve already established this."

"Debauched," Cullen huffed, the word almost affectionate. He ground up into Anton, changing the angle of the stone inside him, and — well. That wasn’t terrible. And if he shifted just so, that was even better than ‘not terrible’.

Anton watched the change in expression and grinned. "You seem to be settling into my debauchery," he teased, rocking his hips against Cullen.

"Onto. Settling onto." Another flash of panic flickered through Cullen’s chest, at the thought, but there was no one to see them. There were no eyes but Anton’s on him, and Anton looked like he was about to further the debauchery.

"Lean back a little," Anton suggested, nudging Cullen’s chest. "Lean back so I can get closer."

Cullen gripped the back of the bench, looking up at Anton. "What—?" And then Anton’s hand was between them, stroking them both together.

"Oh, just making sure you’re not still too cold for this…" Leaning forward, Anton kissed Cullen again, all tongue and teeth.

Cullen gasped into Anton’s mouth, hips arching up into his touch. He was certainly feeling warmer, heat touching his cheeks and splashing down his chest, pooling where skin met skin. Anton’s soft skin contrasted pleasantly with hard stone, and Cullen rocked between the dual sensations.

Even with the air on his skin, they were still hidden away, Cullen reminded himself, kept reminding himself until the points of contact between stone and flesh were the only things he could focus on.

"You are…" he began again, more breathless this time.

"Debauched?"

"Maddening," Cullen corrected. He shifted his weight onto one hand, reaching up with the other to pull Anton as close as he could. "Incredibly maddening."

"Or maddeningly incredible, you mean."

"That too."

Anton reached down to get more grease, which was cold, and held it in his hand for a moment, before drizzling it into their collective lap, hand following the last slow drop, to squeeze and stroke it over their flesh. "All this wealth, a family name with a history, and all I want to do with it is find new ways to get you to make that face."

Cullen’s jaw slackened and his eyes rolled back, as Anton stroked him just so. His hips rolled between the stone and that hand, and anything he might have meant to say was reduced to a lusty groan and a few pleading whimpers.

"That face, that you’re making right now." Anton’s clean hand kneaded the back of Cullen’s neck, as he kissed him again, shivering in the afternoon breeze that danced across his skin.

Cullen’s hand became more demanding, clutching at Anton, clawing and wringing the sleek muscle of that lean, hard body. Anton was caught between wanting to watch that face twist and wanting to kiss those slack lips. Then Cullen panted his name, and Anton decided that was a better use for his mouth.

"Yes, Cullen?" Anton teased, his own voice breathless. He twisted his hand just so, and Cullen bucked under him, another whimper shivering out of him.

"Anton," Cullen said again, unsure if that was a plea, a statement, or simply the only thing his senses could understand in that moment. "Oh, Anton!"

Anton did kiss him then, swallowing the groans he coaxed out of his templar.

Everything was perfect, because Anton, Cullen decided. It wasn’t a well-formed idea, it was an even worse sentence, but he was certain of the truth of it, as his thighs tensed and he clamped down around the stone inside him. There was no give, and somehow that made it better, in ways he could never have imagined, even twenty minutes ago. Anton had done this to him. Anton had given him this. The entire world was reduced to Anton, as Cullen spilled over Anton’s fingers.

He came down slowly, to the sound of Anton moaning into his mouth, hips and hand still in motion. His hand slid down Anton’s back, cupping one firm buttock, kneading the flesh. Everything was strange and distant, except for Anton filling every sense. Yes, he’d made the right decision, and every time he doubted it, things got better. Weirder, but better.

"I love you," Cullen said against Anton’s lips, his hand on Anton’s ass encouraging every shift of his hips. "You incredibly maddening, maddeningly incredible man."

Anton choked out a sound between a laugh and a groan, eyes meeting Cullen’s before they rolled back. Cullen kissed his chin, his jaw, whispering endearments and encouragements to the skin there as Anton stiffened against him, muscles bunching under Cullen’s hand. Anton let out a groan, low and long, his breath hot against Cullen’s cheek.

They sat, panting, in each other’s arms, for a long while, the breeze licking the sweat from their skin. A new twist to an old game, and one Cullen thought he’d never tire of, even without the twists. Anton nuzzled his neck, nibbled along his jaw, and finally sat up, letting the air pass between them. Cullen shivered and tried to pull Anton close, again.

"Reset the dial," Anton suggested, "before one of us slips and I have to go get Anders."

Cullen’s eyes squeezed shut as the blush dashed across his face. That was one of the last things he wanted to be seeing a healer for — sex accidents. Of course, if he and Anton kept on like this, it was bound to happen, eventually. He fumbled for the dial, beside him, and after turning it the wrong way — which prompted a surprised squeak — he managed to disengage the stone knob, and it sank down out of him, the draughty hole in the bench closing after it.

"Good?" Anton asked, stealing another quick kiss.

Cullen considered that for a moment, waiting for his brain to rearrange his thoughts into the proper order. "Different," he said. "But good, yes."

Anton’s grin was the smug, self-satisfied kind. "Good," he said. "Now you see why I don’t have to leave home for any… ‘excitement’." He slid off of Cullen’s lap to sit next to him on the bench, sucking in a breath at the touch of cold stone against his rump. He shifted from one cheek to the other until it warmed.

"And yet you still scale the Gallows walls to steal into my office," Cullen said with fake exasperation. Or mostly fake, anyway.

Anton grinned, bumping Cullen’s shoulder with his. "Is that a hint that you would like some new office furniture?"