Title: A Sleepless Night (2/2)
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂
Rating: M (L3 N1 S3 V2 D1)
Warnings: Dick jokes, discussion of past relationships, war in the past tense, dead friends, discussion of past abuse
Notes: Okay, yes, now it’s two chapters. More of the same, pretty much. They’re charming. They’re sweet. They’re both complete dicks.
Cormac woke, blearily, to hot breath against his forehead and hips rocking against his thigh. Warm, still wearing his boots… what? Oh, right. He’d come to check on the healer at some unspeakable hour, and ended up in bed. The healer who was, it seemed, still asleep. At least it wasn’t one of his brothers, this time, Cormac reasoned. There was only so long you could keep that many people in that small a space, before accidents happened. He’d mostly learnt to ignore it.
A gasp, Anders clutching at his back, and then the healer leapt back, as if waking from a nightmare. Cormac grabbed his shoulder and pulled, to keep him from falling off the cot. He watched Anders wake up, terror first, then disappointment, then horror.
"I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to—"
Cormac backed himself up against the wall and pulled Anders back onto the cot. "You’re not related to me. It’s a nice change of pace," he joked. "I’m warm and you were sleeping. And I just woke up. And you’re … still cold, aren’t you."
"I dreamed it wasn’t true. I dreamed it wasn’t true, it was all a nightmare, and we— we were going to Qarinus, in the morning. I dreamed… just one more time…" Anders rubbed at his face, eyes damp. "I don’t know how to live like this."
"We’re not him, and we never will be, but we liked you enough to walk into that trap with you. I still like you. Promised you breakfast, didn’t I?" Cormac huffed out a laugh. "You’ll never forget. You’ll probably always blame yourself. But, as long as it’s not the only thing you have, I think you’ll do fine."
"You’re insane, you know that? How am I supposed to live with this? How am I supposed to look at myself?" Anders couldn’t even look at Cormac, turning his head to look up at the wall.
"Step one, don’t look at yourself. Not just yet. I’ll look for you, and what I’m seeing is that you need a shave. You grow that out, and nobody’s going to be able to look at you — Maker, man, what are you, part bear?" Cormac reached up and tugged at a bit of that blond beard.
"I’m serious," Anders insisted.
"So am I. I’d say don’t let it get to you, but it’s going to. It’s going to tear you apart. So, let it, for a while. I was not the only one with you, that night, and I don’t think any of us are going to let you die of grief. This shouldn’t have happened to anyone, but it happened to you. And I kind of like you, which is saying something, considering you threatened me the minute I walked through your door, but I do." Cormac’s hand took a gentle grip on Anders’s shoulder. "Please, Anders, let us take care of you. We lost one mage, this week. Let’s not go for two. Two is a lot. There are so few of us out here."
"Why do you care?" Anders looked baffled.
"Could’ve been me. My brother, my sister, my dad… We lost a whole village, and half a town of refugees. I haven’t seen anyone I knew, since I got here. I want to know you. I’ve never met a mage I wasn’t related to. Not except that healer who was travelling south with the Wardens, and by the time I met her, I needed a healer. Only knew her five minutes."
"Darkspawn?" Anders asked, as he filtered through the rest of that.
Cormac laughed. "Wardens. Sometimes, it’s good to be drunk and stupid. I didn’t think I’d be getting up for a week, after that, but there she was, all glowy hands and long-suffering sighs. So, of course, I went out and did it again, the next night, but with less Wardens, sadly, since they’d already moved on. The king’s army moved on the next day, took two of my brothers along. Templars hung back to protect the town, and so did I, to protect the town from them. Lost it all, anyway."
"You, your family, you stayed to fight?"
"Ten years, and the longest I’d been anywhere. We stayed until the Darkspawn were on our doorstep. By that point, half the templars weren’t local any more, so I told them I was from the tower, on loan to the Wardens. Nobody batted an eye, once the first wave came. My sister had to drag me away. It was my house. The house my father died in. Nothing for it, in the end. We had to go." Cormac curled up against Anders’s chest. "We were all we had left. I don’t know if anyone made it out, but us. There are no familiar faces here. Ten years, Anders. Everyone’s gone but us."
"You have your family," Anders reminded him, one arm finally reaching out to settle over that thick, warm body.
"So do you." Cormac’s voice was as thick as his shoulders. "You have my family, too."
"I don’t think it works like that," Anders rested his chin against the top of Cormac’s head.
Anders reflected that he was unwashed, unshaven, starving, had slept about three hours in the last four or five days, and had then woken up humping the leg of a man he barely knew, while dreaming about the friend he’d just killed. And somehow, this man he barely knew had not only forgiven him, but was willingly curled up against him, offering to take care of him. He should have been terrified, and frankly he was. Cormac Hawke was clearly a madman. But, it was an optimistic madness, if a painfully honest one. And really, Anders thought, he could probably do with someone reminding him about the little things — eating, sleeping, shaving. In time, Cormac would get tired of him and go. But, what was the harm in a little flattery and free food, in the mean time?
"Mmm," Cormac groaned. "Let me up before I fall asleep again, and forget I was going to get us food. You need to eat. I probably do, too, but you’re so warm, and this is so much softer than the floor."
"I’m freezing my ass off," Anders reminded him. "You’re the warm one."
"Because I’m not on the floor." Cormac groaned again and managed to sit up, the world strangely angular and flat to his sleepless eyes. "Back in a few minutes. Food. Don’t die."
Anders laughed and stretched. "If I’m not right here, when you get back, it’s because I made it into the back, where I have something even more bed-like. It might have been a real bed, once. Real straw mattress and everything."
Cormac dragged himself to his feet. "A mattress. Two things other than the floor, in one day? How did I get this lucky? A bed. You have a bed. Marry me."
"Fuck the Chantry," Anders muttered. "Mage freedom before marriage. Breakfast before mage rights."
Cormac cackled, exhaustedly, and staggered out into Darktown. Up to the market for food, and then back to this ridiculous half-dead mage who had a bed he was willing to share.
About an hour later, Cormac stumbled back in, to find that Anders hadn’t made it to bed. Instead, he was lying on the floor, with half a lyrium potion next to him, trying to shave with no mirror. Lightning leapt to Anders’s fingertips, before he realised the footsteps were just Cormac.
"Stop casting before breakfast," Cormac yawned, holding out a sack. "Rolls, apricots, dried fish, cabbage salad. Apricots were free. You know there’s a tree by the bridge to the Gallows? Don’t think anyone’s noticed it. Kind of behind a statue."
"I had a potion, first," Anders grumbled, nicking himself. The mark was gone before it even started to bleed. "I don’t have to shave well. I’m a healer. Five minutes, and I’ll be done."
It took closer to ten, but he did eventually manage to finish shaving, and without a drop of blood spilled. "Couldn’t handle it," he said, sitting up. "Still reek, but at least my face is mine, again. You know how hard it is to get a bath, down here? Water’s either foul or seawater, unless you haul it from Lowtown. Privacy’s a joke. Half likely to get my pants nicked every time I take them off."
"So, you’re saying you want me to watch your pants, while you wash?" Cormac unpacked the food onto a nearby counter and pulled one of the cots closer, so they could sit.
"That would be amazing. Should really wash my clothes, too. I can’t remember the last time I had something clean. I have three shirts and two pairs of pants and a handful of robes I don’t dare wear, stuffed in a locked trunk — nobody else should be wearing those, either." Anders hauled himself up, staggered the few feet to the cot by the food, and dropped himself onto it, leaning back against the counter, as he reached for the round loaf of bread he knew contained his cabbage salad. "I just hang things to air them out a bit, when I’m not wearing them. Hope for the best. Lost a few shirts like that. Lost more pants. Still have to hang stuff, even if it’s wet, but if it’s dry, I can hang it in the cupboard, at least."
Cormac stared for a moment, not chewing the bit of fish sandwich in his mouth. "You… How long have you been living like this?"
"Oh, not even a year, yet. It won’t go on forever. People know who I am, now. They don’t steal from me as much as when I first got here. A chest full of robes and books and my staff at my back. Nowhere to go. I came later than you. After Denerim. After Amaranthine. Right after Amaranthine, really. Lost a good friend, and just couldn’t do it any more. Packed up and came to get my other friend back. Lost him, too. Everything I touch turns to shit."
"That is not true. I’m sitting right here, and you spent a whole three hours wrapped around me. I’m no more shitty than I was before." Cormac grinned, and finally remembered he was eating.
Anders picked at the cabbage salad, scooping it with a bit of bread. "Great. I stink and you’re already shit. Apostate power."
Cormac cackled. "I think — and I do think too much — that you should let me help you get a decent bath, and then we’ll wash your clothes, and you can put on one of those robes you don’t dare wear, because if anyone has anything to say about it, they’re coming through me to say it. And then we should go lie about in your not quite a bed that is supposedly even better than that rickety cot, which is a definite improvement on the floor. And yes, I did just invite myself to bed with you."
"That’s actually kind of flattering. You scrape me off the floor, put food in me, and then offer to come to bed with me? It’s my lucky day. My toes are cold." Anders laughed. He left out the parts in between, because he was still trying to sort those. "The only thing I ask is that you stay out here, while I’m in the bath. Bathing without someone watching is one of those luxuries I’m still getting used to, and I’m really kind of enjoying it."
"A luxury? What the fuck happened to you?" Cormac asked, with his mouth full.
"Fifteen years in Kinloch Hold. Happened to everyone, really." The completely placid smile that settled on Anders’s face was terrifying. "It’s over. I belong to me, now."
"Andraste’s brazen ass… There was something dad never mentioned." Cormac shook his head. "All the things he had to say about the Circle, but never that."
"Everything you’ve heard was probably true." Anders shrugged and kept picking at the salad. "The shit you didn’t hear is probably mostly true, too. It all sounds good, on paper, but it never really worked the way it was designed, and that’s a fault in the design, that it didn’t account for the follies of man."
"You really do sound like my dad, when you say shit like that. But, you know, you’re young and gorgeous, very much not like the last time I saw him." Cormac made himself another sandwich.
"You saying your dad was young and gorgeous, once?" Anders elbowed Cormac and grinned slyly.
"I’m saying my dad looked just like me, when he charmed the pants off the daughter of Aristide Amell and eloped to Ferelden with her. You tell me if that counts." Cormac’s grin was nothing shy of wicked.
Anders studied Cormac contemplatively. "You’ve got young, but gorgeous…? Rugged, maybe. Nice shoulders, definitely. Would you settle for dead sexy?"
Cormac sighed, melodramatically. "I suppose. If I must. But, I guess you’re gorgeous enough for both of us."
"And now I’m a gorgeous magical unicorn. My, you just keep getting more creative, don’t you?" Anders laughed. Food really was improving the situation dramatically, that warm rush of megalomania and invincibility wrestling with the need to sleep more, now that his stomach had seized the blood intended for his brain. "Still going to take some convincing, before I let you stroke my horn."
"Easily nine out of ten people I had my wicked and delicious way with — and there were way more than ten — died in the course of a day. I was there. I couldn’t save them. You had yours, I had mine. I know now isn’t the time, and I got nothing for convincing, any more. You want it, I’m interested. You don’t, I’m a hopeless flirt, no big deal. Don’t take me more seriously than you want to. I’m just like this. Sometimes, I get lucky. Sometimes, I get punched. Most of the time, people just laugh. I take what I get." Cormac squeezed an entire apricot into his mouth, and tipped his head back. He spit out the pit a moment later. "But, if you’re interested, don’t think for a second that I’m even slightly ambivalent. I will agree so fucking forcefully, the elves will hear it on the mountain. It’s up to you."
"You remember I’m a Warden, right?" A nervous laugh leapt out of Anders, as he started picking apart the bread bowl from his salad.
"Didn’t I already share my opinion on Warden stamina? Besides, you’re already a healer. If you break me more than I meant you to, you can fix it."
"Break… you?" Anders looked confused and a little distressed at the idea. "I’m not like that. I swear. It’s not a Warden thing, whatever you heard."
Cormac laughed, maybe a little harder than strictly necessary. "What? No, not like that. I’m … I’m into that. I like it a little rough. Okay, a lot rough. I’m into the aching for days thing."
"So, you come flirt with the healer, who’s going to reflexively try to fix that, as fast as it happens." Anders shook his head, and finished off his salad and bread.
"The healer part is kind of incidental. I think it offsets the Warden part nicely. Mostly, though, I’m just here flirting with this gorgeous magical unicorn of a mage, who’s willing to be in the same room with me."
Anders just smiled and basked in that, for a moment. "Help me stash the food, so we still have some, later? There’s that whole no doors problem, down here, and the idea of waking up and already having food is so appealing right now."
"Back in the sack and under the bed?" Cormac suggested, putting things into the bag they’d come out of.
"Exactly what I was thinking." Anders groaned and hauled himself to his feet. "I’m going to … thing … water …" He gestured vaguely in the direction of the overlook.
"Saltwater? Seriously?" Cormac asked, sweeping the rest of the food into the sack.
"I’m not going to try to haul that much water back down from Lowtown, in this condition." Anders shook his head.
Cormac thought about it, for a few seconds. "We’re mages. We can do better than this. Show me where you’re pulling from, and I’ll help you haul water. Then we’ll figure out the rest."
"If you’re thinking distillation," Anders said, leading the way, "I don’t have enough equipment in the right size. Thought of that. Still too poor."
"What if we freeze it, before you haul it up?" Cormac speculated. "Freeze it, haul it, dump it in the tub, melt it, freeze it one more time, pour out the sludge, and then warm it up?"
"I’ve done that to get drinking water, but you’re talking about doing it where people can see it." Anders shook his head. "You’ll get us both killed."
"Will not. Who’s going to notice? I have amazing aim." Cormac folded his arms across his chest.
"We could do it the long way," Anders pointed out, casting out the hauling bucket. Whoever had designed the contraption must’ve been Carta, because it was pure dwarven ingenuity. "Double freeze it in the tub. Maybe triple, if we have to haul more water, because it wasn’t already frozen."
"I like the way you think." Cormac grinned as Anders cranked the bucket back.
"I think this thing weighs almost as much as I do. Grab a ring? I’m too tired for this." Yawning, Anders lowered the bucket and unhooked it. "Three to fill the tub."
Cormac just picked it up, sloshing water on himself and the ground. "Maybe four, if I keep doing that," he muttered. "I got it."
While Anders bathed, Cormac dried his own clothes with a combination of ice and fire, freezing the water out of the cloth and then heating the damp out, when it stopped working. After a while, Anders reappeared, damp, but clean, in a gorgeous blue and gold robe, in a Tevinter cut.
"Hate wearing this thing, around here. It’s like a ‘stab me, I’m a mage’ sign," he sighed.
"Washed everything?" Cormac asked.
"It’s hung up."
"Then excuse me while I solve the bathwater problem, and then the wet clothes problem. You should sit. You’re still looking a little pale."
"Cormac, anything would look pale next to you." Anders laughed, but went back to sit on the bed, all the same. He meant to lie down there, anyway. "I’ll get it later. When I haven’t used most of my magic to compensate for my lack of shaving talents."
"Or, I could just do it, and then you don’t have to worry about it," Cormac pointed out, freezing a streak across the floor of the clinic and then freezing the bathwater, so it wouldn’t slosh. He kicked the tub and watched it slide a few feet. Perfect. "Back in a minute."
"Why?" Anders asked again, when Cormac returned and stuck the empty tub under the dripping clothing.
"Because there’s enough shit going on, and you don’t need this." Cormac started freezing the water out of the cloth. "And I’m looking for an excuse not to go home for a bit. It’s quiet, here. Dog’s not barking, nobody’s yelling. And you’re here, and we all know what I think about being in a room with you. Completely selfish reasons, honestly."
"Not completely selfish. We both benefit." Anders pushed down the ratty blanket. It looked like it had started life as a down comforter, before ending up in the dump and being dragged into Darktown, but it was still decently warm. He stretched out, close to the wall, head on a small red pillow. "Still coming to bed with me?"
"Templars couldn’t keep me away," Cormac groaned, tapping the clothes. "Damp, but not wet. Should be dry by the time you wake up."
He sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled off his boots and socks, tucking them under the bed. The blanket had been made for a much larger bed, and it hung almost to the floor, concealing everything under the bed.
"Thank you," Cormac said, quietly, sliding into the bed beside Anders and pulling the blanket up
"Me? You’re down here carrying my bathwater and buying me breakfast. Thank me. That’s crap and you know it." Anders pulled the blanket up to his eyes.
"Your bed is warm and your rooms are blessedly quiet. And you’re letting me share this wondrous quiet warmth with you." Cormac hesitantly reached out and squeezed Anders’s upper arm.
Anders reached up and just held Cormac’s hand for a bit. "If I roll over, would you… would you hold me, like you did, before?"
"Want me to rub your belly again, tomcat?" Cormac teased, letting go so Anders could move.
Anders got very still, for a long moment, and then he rolled over. Just as Cormac thought he might have pushed too far, Anders sighed. "Yeah, I do."
"Calming," Cormac ventured, wrapping an arm around Anders and pulling him close, hand gently circling over the embroidered gold waist of Anders’s robe.
"Yeah," Anders choked out, after a few seconds.
Cormac just squeezed his other arm under Anders and crossed it up over his chest to hold on to his shoulder.
"I never wanted any of this. I just wanted to be a regular guy, and live a regular life, maybe with a little more magic and a little less chicken-farming, but minimal excitement. Less templars. Less bullshit. Less wondering who we’d lose, next."
"You totally wanted to be my dad," Cormac pointed out. "Regular guy, regular life. A wife and five kids, a house in a farming village, when we finally settled down. Minimal bullshit, all things considered."
"Could’ve done without the five kids," Anders scoffed, sounding a little less maudlin.
"So could he, I’m pretty sure." Cormac laughed. "But, mum wanted a little girl, and didn’t give up until she got one."
"Your father’s a saint. Five kids…" The ‘and an apostate’ was understood.
"It’s definitely a holy blessing that he didn’t kill us all. Saintly patience right to the end, though I sometimes wonder if we didn’t shave years off his life, the poor bastard." Cormac laughed. "I almost got killed running around after Dalish legends, so many times, and my little brother always came with me — not that he had any interest in the legends, I think he was just into the elves. I know he got into at least one elf. The next brother down … I don’t even know what his deal was, but the number of times he got brought home by a prostitute, with his pocket full of coins, the two of them talking about card games and who cheated… The twins ran around and beat each other with sticks, until dad was looking, and then she’d trip her brother and stand on him until he cried — and that was it, with the twins, too — she didn’t cry. He did. Made the neighbours crazy. I don’t know, I didn’t pay much mind to the twins. I wasn’t home much, by the time they got old enough to be interesting."
"Your family sounds amazing. And now I’m absolutely certain your father should have been sainted. Statues in his honour." Anders turned his head and stifled a yawn against Cormac’s hand.
"When I’m king of the world, there will be statues from Lothering to Kirkwall! And maybe one day someone will see one of those statues and tell me where he was really from, and I’ll go build a statue there, too." Cormac pressed his face against the back of Anders’s neck. "But, I’ll never be king of the world at this rate, so maybe I’ll just write his name on eggs and throw them at the side of the Chantry, instead."
"If you’re egging the Chantry, count me in." Anders hooked his foot around Cormac’s ankle. "Maybe we shouldn’t use eggs, though. We could be eating those."
"Rotten eggs." Cormac cuddled closer, still rubbing Anders’s belly.
"If we’re using rotten eggs, we should just crack them and plant them in the flower beds at night. Just below the surface. They’ll be trying to figure out where the stench is coming from forever."
"You sound like you’ve done this before."
"Fifteen fucking years in Kinloch Hold." Anders tossed an arm back, hand settling on the side of Cormac’s thigh. "I am a master of terrible things to do with bad eggs."
"Anyone ever mention how unreasonably tall you are?" Cormac asked, noticing how they fit together.
"All the time. Took you long enough."
"I was appreciating your other enjoyable qualities— your wit, your warmth, your sparkling personality, the fact that you’re not related to me."
"Oh, come now, your family doesn’t sound that appalling."
"Anyone’s family is that appalling when you’ve been sleeping on the floor of some tiny Lowtown hovel with them, every night, for a year. Five kids. One room. No bed." Cormac huffed against the back of Anders’s neck, and Anders shivered. "Sorry. You’re tall."
Anders laughed and rolled over, in a tangle of limbs and twisted blanket. He tugged the blanket back into something like the right shape and tucked the edge between his back and the wall. "Better?"
"A little harder to rub your belly like this, isn’t it?"
"So rub my back, instead. I don’t care. You’re warm."
Cormac laughed against Anders’s chest. "You’re pushy, when you’re tired," he teased.
"So are you. Inviting yourself to bed with me?" Anders wound closer around Cormac.
"That’s different. I’m pushy all the time." Cormac draped an arm over Anders, rubbing his lower back.
"No you’re not," Anders muttered. "And thank you for that. Not my back — well, thank you for that, too, but I meant not being pushy at the wrong times."
"Don’t thank me, yet. I will be, eventually. When it happens, just smack me." Cormac’s eyes drifted shut, and he smiled and didn’t comment when Anders’s leg hooked around his own.
"Just don’t get attached to me. I’m not going to be here forever."
"No one is. You’re here, now. It’s good enough."
"You’re out of your mind." Anders yawned and stretched, pressing himself against Cormac.
"That implies I was in it, to begin with," Cormac mumbled. "I could wake up back on the floor in that hovel, and I’d still be happy I had a bed and a warm body that wasn’t my brother for one night. You being you just makes it worth remembering."
"I’ll disappoint you," Anders muttered against the top of Cormac’s head. "I’m really pretty forgettable."
"It’s not like I’m consorting with noblemen. I’m just another refugee with a staff. A staff that’s going to start paying a lot more attention to the conversation if you keep doing that with your leg."
"You want me to stop?"
"Going to be here when I wake up?"
"You will have to kick me out of this bed to get me to go further than the chamberpot." Cormac cleared his throat. "By which I mean, ‘do you want me here when you wake up?'"
"I hope you have the sense not to be. I hope you have the sense to put as much distance as you can get between us, but… yeah, I do. I do want you to be here."
"Fuck sense. I charged a fucking ogre. Sense can go take a flying fuck at the Golden City." Cormac grumbled.
"Careful, I might start thinking you like me," Anders scoffed.
Cormac just snorted.