[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 143
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Fenris ♂, Jethann ♂
Rating: M (L3 N0 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Anders has some issues, drinking to remember, suicidal stupidity, referenced past abuse
Notes: And this is why Anders doesn’t drink so much, any more…
A tattooed hand pulled out the chair on the other side of Artemis, wooden legs scraping against the floor. Fenris cleared his throat and sat down. "Is this the drunk table?" he asked, holding up a fresh bottle of wine before taking a drink.
"We’re so drunk, I had to get Artie over here to even us out into a general air of slightly buzzed." Anders grinned and seriously considered whether he ought to be pouring himself another drink. It wasn’t even Justice protesting this time. Justice was too busy remembering how much he hated it when Anders had more than about three drinks. "Are you drunk too? Are you drunk enough for both of us?" the grin started to look calculating. "I know Artie missed out, last time."
"Every time there’s a party, Artie misses out on something," Fenris shot back, intentionally missing the point. "But, this time, he’s not getting drunk, and he’s coming home with me."
"Ooooh. I’m feeling some tension here!" Jethann leaned his elbows on the table and rested his chin on the backs of his hands. "Do you two not share well?"
"He’s got issues." Anders jabbed a finger at Fenris, entirely aware of his own hypocrisy, in that moment, and completely unwilling to care. He had a plan. A poorly thought out plan, but a plan. Fenris didn’t like him very much, and would be much less opposed to doing truly terrible things to him, than to Artemis. Yes. It would be a demonstration.
Fenris harrumphed, narrowed eyes on Anders as he took a long pull from his wine bottle. "The only ‘issue’ I have is that you are a pain in my ass," he growled.
Anders’s calculating smirk turned outright wicked. "In yours? Well, technically—"
"Lovely party, isn’t it?" Artie asked loudly, hands flitting over the bottles he’d already arranged into oblivion. "Yes. Lovely party. Drinks and dancing and… Isabela groping half the templar order."
"Only half?" Jethann asked, even though his real attention was on Fenris and Anders. "I’m almost disappointed."
"The night is young," Artemis replied, eyeing the men on either side of him. Templars, Artie reminded himself when his fingers twitched for Anders’s drink. No getting drunk around templars.
"But what’s this about ‘pains’ and ‘asses’?" Jethann asked, resting his chin on his palm. "Because it sounds to me like you two have some tension you need to work out, and that seems like a marvellous way to start." He winked at Artie.
"This is why I drink," Artemis mumbled.
"Fenris is a specialist in pains, I think. Ass pains, neck pains, chest pains." Anders levelled a sly smile across the table. "But, I don’t think he’s going to give me any of the good ones, because he doesn’t like mages."
Fenris opened his mouth like he might say something, rethought it, and then started with something else. "You don’t like it rough," he said, surprisingly calmly, taking another drink of wine. If Anders was going to be this drunk, he needed a few more just to be in the same room.
"Oh! Have the two of you already gotten started?" Jethann nudged a not-quite empty bottle of rum toward Fenris. "You know how he likes it, do you?"
"The Hawkes throw a lot of parties," Fenris huffed, eyes wide. "I have seen and heard a great deal more than strictly necessary."
"I know you heard me tell you I thought you’d have liked me better, when I was younger." This time the grin on Anders’s face was almost savage. "Chained to the wall, with no magic, bloody and quiet and easy. And you’ve got something to say about how Cormac likes it? A confusion, you called it?" He scoffed and leaned back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest. "Because you’ve got room to talk."
Fenris’s lip curled in a snarl, and Artemis put a hand on his wrist, the new runed bracelet sending a current up his fingers. "Okay," Artemis said, "as the one sober person at this table, I decree that you two have had enough to drink." He snatched the bottle out of Anders’s hand and stowed it under his chair.
"I wasn’t done with that," Anders protested.
"Yes, you were," Artemis said, voice pitched low so only Anders could hear, "and I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks so. You’re glowing." Anders blinked, eyes flickering between amber and blue, and Artie fought not to panic. A room full of templars. A room full of templars, and the Warden was glowing. Artemis turned to the drunker elf. "Jethann, do me a favour and get my brother. My older brother. Cormac. The one with the…" He gestured at his chin, where Cormac’s beard would be, and Jethann nodded.
"I know who he is," Jethann said distractedly, eyes round. "But this was just getting good!"
Jethann clucked his tongue but did as he was told. Which left Artie alone at the table with glowy and glowier, who were doing a marvellous impression of drunk and drunker at the moment.
Fenris filtered through what Anders had said. Granted, the mage was wrong, the thought disgusted him, but something bothered him even more than that. Anders never talked about the tower, unless it was some ridiculous story that ended in a prank or sex. "How much younger?" he asked, quietly.
"How long have I been in Kirkwall? Younger than that. I don’t actually remember, any more. I got bad at time, for a bit." Anders nuzzled Artie’s neck, twisting himself awkwardly to get the angle. "Ask Cullen. Maybe he remembers." Anders paused. "No, don’t ask Cullen. That was a bad year. I bet he can’t remember either. Fuck that place. Didn’t do anyone any good. Wish it burned to the ground."
Didn’t remember. Didn’t remember and neither would the templar? "You… knew Cullen? Before?" Fenris looked confused. He hadn’t realised that the two of them being from Ferelden had meant they’d be in the same place. In the Marches, at least, most of the larger cities maintained their own circle towers, from what Fenris had heard. He’d just assumed Ferelden would be similar.
"Not much. I knew his face. He knew mine. Everyone knew mine." Anders groped Artie, under the table, trying to forget, even while he was still speaking.
"Anders." Fenris stretched a hand across the table, palm up, and said nothing more.
Anders looked outright ill, as he took it, fingers closing loosely around Fenris’s slender hand. There were so many things he could say, some of them good ideas, some of them the worst ideas he’d had in years. He settled for, "I know." He was sitting across from the wrong elf, and he just kept staring at the table, so he wouldn’t have to remember.
Jethann reappeared with Cormac. "You would not believe how hard it is to extract this man from his cooing hordes," Jethann said, picking up the bottle Fenris had been drinking from and taking a swig.
"Would you believe I was surrounded by templars who wanted to dance with me? I don’t even mean that metaphorically." Cormac seemed to be relatively sober, at least compared to Anders and Jethann.
"Oh! Are you two holding hands, now?" Jethann pointed with the hand holding the bottle and covered his mouth with the other.
"They do that, sometimes." But, Cormac didn’t see the glow on Anders’s fingertips, so this wasn’t because Fenris was having trouble with the runes, which was what he’d assumed. "So, what is this about me needing to come and rescue my Warden from my brother? Or the broody death elf? Or perhaps from you, you sly creature?" He tapped under Jethann’s chin.
"I think the Warden might need rescuing from himself," Artemis said with a wry smile. At least he didn’t have to worry about Anders and Fenris killing each other, which was a legitimate concern and one he often had. He wrapped an arm around Anders’s shoulders and rubbed his cheek against the top of his head, letting his fellow mage continue to grope him under the table. "We’ve switched roles tonight. He’s drunk, and I’m sober. And I’m not sure how to deal with this situation."
Artemis could see why Anders didn’t drink much, if this was where his mind went.
"There’s no situation," Anders insisted, still holding Fenris’s hand. He could feel the lines of lyrium against his palm, could feel the prickle of electricity. It was grounding, a distraction from where his mind wanted to go, and Justice settled into the sensation. "You could go dance with your templars, non-metaphorically. Or you could dance with me, completely metaphorically." He grinned and snickered at his own wit, stifling the sound against Artie’s neck.
Artemis threw his brother a helpless look and shrugged his unoccupied shoulder.
"Maybe we should make it a metaphorical dance party," Anders went on, nibbling at Artie’s ear. "There’s three of you. One of me. Still no, Jethann. And I’m so very pretty when I plead, or that’s what I’m told. Don’t ask Cullen about that. I don’t think he knows, and if he does, I don’t want to know. But, you know, Artie. You’ve seen me beg for you. Tell Fenris how pretty I am, when I’m desperate."
"You’re always pretty, sweet thing," Cormac purred, trying not to look like all the hair on the back of his neck was standing on end. "Why don’t you come here and mage-handle my ass, and stop traumatising my brother, hmm? Can you stand up?"
This was one of those things, Cormac had figured out. Part of why Justice disapproved so strongly of Anders drinking. When Anders got too drunk, so much of his humour and good sense left him, to be replaced with bright-eyed caustic loathing and self-destructive ideas. It happened so rarely, now, but Cormac had gotten a sense that before Kirkwall, Anders had spent a lot of time indecently drunk, and Sigrun’s stories, from the corset party, seemed to back that up. But, Cormac had only seen hints of it. He’d never seen Anders anything like this wasted.
"You’re not drunk," Anders accused, letting go of Artie to check the table for a bottle that might still have something in it. "You should have a drink."
"I’m not drunk because the room is full of templars," Cormac pointed out.
"And I’m concerned about the amount of blood in my alcohol stream, because the room is full of templars," Anders shot back, eyes clear and hollow, for a moment, as he looked up at Cormac. An ugly giggle started in the back of his throat. "What if we go metaphorically dance with the templars? You’ve already danced with one literally. I bet they could show you some secrets. Show you what I’m really good for. And I am good for it. Every time. They know."
Cormac’s spine stiffened, and he considered writing that off to Anders forgetting where he was, but that was dangerous. "We’re in Kirkwall, sweet thing. You’ve been out for so many years." He took Anders’s hand and crouched next to the chair. "I thought all the templars who thought that about you were dead."
Fenris shifted uncomfortably in his seat, shooting a glance across the room to the table of templars, where Isabela and Merrill still sat. He knew what he was seeing. He’d suspected it, for a long time, but just pushed it aside as more exaggerations for the cause. This, though, wasn’t an exaggeration. He’d seen this before, if only in slaves.
Artemis still had an arm wrapped loosely around Anders’s shoulders, unsure what to do. He’d never seen Anders like this, had never heard him talk like this, and listening to him made his stomach twist. Templars, the Circle. That could have been him. That could have been his brother, his sister. It shouldn’t have been anyone, let alone someone like Anders. Artemis fidgeted with the bottles again, righting them after Anders had rummaged through them.
"Are they?" Anders asked, voice and stare distant. He looked at the table of templars but only saw their armour, a table full of Swords of Mercy.
Artemis looked at his brother. "Maybe we should bring him to a less templary room?" he suggested. Squeezing Anders’s shoulder, he asked, "What do you think, Anders? Some place quieter?"
"Some place more private for our metaphorical dance party?" Anders asked. There was still something off in his smile.
Cormac smiled grimly at Jethann. "Can we borrow a room, upstairs? I think I need to get him away from the booze and the templars. Preferably a room with a chamberpot, once that starts coming back up."
"You can use mine, but you’re paying for the cleaning and anything he breaks." Jethann crossed his arms and stepped back.
"You doubt me? No, you doubt Anton. Of course." Cormac laughed and put four sovereigns in Jethann’s hand, as he stood up. He studied Anders and considered the best way to handle this. "We’re getting you out of here. Somewhere a little quieter, okay? You need me to carry you?"
Anders poured himself out of his chair, winding around Cormac, as he rose. "I can walk with you. I’ll walk with you wherever you want me to go. Just keep me warm, Cormac. I don’t want to be cold any more."
The cold had been one of the first things Cormac had ever heard Anders complain about. Templars, his own guilt, and the cold.
"It’s warm upstairs. I’ll get you a blanket and stay with you." Cormac wrapped an arm around Anders’s waist. "Artie, you’re taller than me. Get his other side? I think the stairs are wide enough."
Artemis nodded and all but jumped to his feet, eager to be useful. He wrapped an arm around Anders’s waist above Cormac’s and redistributed Anders’s weight between them. "You always did like being between the two of us," Artemis teased gently. To Jethann, Artie said, "I’d… hate to impose on you some more, but could you let Anton know where we’re going? And why," he hurried to add. He didn’t need Anton jumping to conclusions about the four of them together in a room at the Rose. Just the thought turned his ears red.
Jethann sighed dramatically, as though greatly put-upon. "All right, but only because you’re looking at me like a blue-eyed, kicked puppy. You can make it up to me later, handsome."
"I… yes," Artie stammered as they started to lead Anders away. "And I’ll make sure the room is clean. Um. Yes."
Jethann wandered out onto the dance floor, where Anton was dancing with some templar or other.