[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 166
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Anders ♂, Fenris ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V0 D0)
Warnings: Anders has issues, Fenris is trying to be sympathetic
Notes: Anders comes back to himself, and goes to Fenris for advice.
Anders woke up on the floor, beside his bed, to Purrcy standing on the side of his nose. The last… he had no idea how long was a blur of memories he’d hoped never to see again, flashes of Justice, and… the cats had been with him. They hadn’t been in the room, the last time he’d been actively paying attention, but he could remember the hints of fuzziness and meowing. At some point, either he or Justice had let them in. The chamberpot seemed to be only slightly used, so he couldn’t have gone hazy for that long. The cats looked fed — at least they weren’t yowling and clawing at him, like they did when they were hungry. He just… wasn’t sure what day it was, or what he’d been doing before…
Cormac. It slowly came back to him, and he curled up around Purrcy, earning a confused meep, as the rest of that night filtered back into his head. Windowless and dark — why hadn’t he just gone upstairs? But, it hadn’t even occurred to him that upstairs was an option, that there were windows in other rooms. Cormac’s face was so much clearer in his memory than he remembered it being at the time, strangely, and the reluctance and concern — so obvious to him, now — bothered him more than most other things about any of that. In no small amount, it also bothered him how hard he’d pushed, how he hadn’t even acknowledged that he was upsetting Cormac. But, he couldn’t see it, then. He’d gotten lost inside his head.
Justice reminded him that Cormac had been bringing them food and taking out the chamber pot, but that he hadn’t been allowed in the room. Hadn’t laid eyes on Anders since that night. And that wasn’t right at all. That wasn’t what he’d meant to happen. Justice, it seemed, had also dressed him, at some point, probably because he’d been complaining about being cold. That stayed with him. Cold was something he knew. What he didn’t know was what to say to Cormac, after all that. And who would? That had been appalling!
…But, Fenris might know. He’d been so drunk, but he remembered holding Fenris’s hand, remembered that unspoken acknowledgement that had passed between them, at the party. The night this all started, really. Maybe Fenris would know.
He showed up at the door, unshaven and still sweat-damp from a week of nightmares and terrors, in the same thing he’d been wearing the whole time. It hadn’t occurred to him to change. Hadn’t occurred to him to wash. His voice creaked, when Orana answered the door, and he had to clear his throat before he managed a few words. "I’m here to see Fenris."
Fenris paused when he spotted Anders, his reaction showing only in the twitch of one eyebrow. "If you’re looking for Cormac, he’s not here," he said, even though Orana had said Anders had asked for him. Why would the mage be asking for him? "I believe Artemis planned to drag him out to the Hanged Man when he left here." Which was an amusing thought, really, and the reverse of what he was used to.
Anders winced at the mention of Cormac, and his stare cut to the floor, studying the lyrium lines on Fenris’s feet. "No, I…" He cleared his throat again. "No. I wanted to talk to you."
Fenris nodded, his expression still carefully neutral, and he motioned Anders into the lounge. "Sit," he said, pointing at a high-backed chair. It occurred to him that that sounded less like a request and more like a demand, so he added the word, "Please."
Anders obeyed almost too readily. As Fenris sat across from him, studying the mage’s haggard appearance, he wished he’d paid more attention to that late-night conversation with Artemis, the one about Cormac and what had happened.
"Help me," were the first words out of Anders, as he stared at the floor, quiet and miserable. "I was there for so much of what happened with you and Artemis, and— I just didn’t know who to go to. Except that’s not true. Stop, Anders, think about the words coming out of your mouth." He sighed and tried again. "The night before the wedding. I said some things. You were there. You gave me your hand. I know you know what’s going on. I know you’ve seen it before. Please just help me …" Anders gestured irritatedly, as he couldn’t find the words he meant. "I have to talk to Cormac, but I can’t do it, yet."
"You came to ask me for help with your relationship problems?" Fenris asked, more than a little surprised. "I would almost expect you to ask Aveline. She’s been quite successful, so far, excluding her own execrable attempts at flirtation."
Anders barked out a bitter, hollow laugh. "I think your relationship has been successful in spite of her advice, not because of it," he said. "And this… she wouldn’t know what to do with this. I don’t know what to do with this."
"Well, to start, you can remember to breathe," Fenris said, voice calm, measured. Only then did Anders realise he was practically vibrating in the chair, breathing just this side of too shallow and too fast. He took a deep breath and then another, and Fenris nodded. "So what happened between you and Cormac?" He had some… ideas based on how Cormac had been, on what Artemis had said, ideas corroborated by what little Anders had already told him.
"I did some pretty terrible things, and that’s a lot coming from me. I— I talked him into it, and then he talked me back into it, and … doesn’t even really matter what ‘it’ is, just that it wasn’t something I should have been doing at all, and I don’t really blame him for not knowing that, at first, but when he realised it, when he tried to stop me, I snapped at him. He was so worried. I can see it, now, but I couldn’t see it then, and every time he tried to give me an out, I just kept getting angry that he didn’t trust me to take care of myself. And then it was over, and he went to take a piss, and I don’t remember." Anders looked up, pale around the beginnings of an extremely fluffy beard. "Justice made sure I didn’t die. I know that. But, I don’t remember anything else. Justice told me Cormac kept bringing food and taking care of the cats, but I don’t remember. Fenris… what day is it?"
"Saturday," Fenris told him, brows tilted in concern. "If this happened the same day Cormac spent the night here, then it’s been a week."
Anders’s skin went from pale to grey, eyes glazing over, turning inward. A week. He’d been like this a whole week with Justice in control. He already had blank spots in his memory, but this…
Fenris’s voice reminded Anders where he was. "I… He came here, did he? Cormac?" Anders nodded to himself. "That’s… that’s good. Artie is good for him."
"Just for one night," Fenris said. "He looked…" Fenris hesitated, unsure how to finish that sentence, if he should finish that sentence. It would likely make Anders feel worse. "He was worried about you."
And, really, that just made Anders feel even worse. After everything he’d done, Cormac was still worried. Cormac had taken the time to make sure he ate, while he was… apparently shut in a windowless room, by his own decision. Or Justice’s. He wasn’t quite sure how that had happened, and he really wasn’t sure it had been a good idea, but at least the cats had been there.
"Worried." Anders shook his head. "Something wrong with that man." His shoulders started to shake as it all crashed over him, again. "I was wrong. I was so wrong, Fenris. What am I supposed to do with this?"
Fenris sighed. "Mage— Anders, look at me."
Anders looked at Fenris’s feet.
"I’m not that much shorter than you," Fenris drawled, and Anders slowly dragged his eyes up. "As far as ‘wrong’ goes, I’ve done substantially worse. You didn’t try to kill him, did you? I think I might have heard about it, if you did."
"I don’t think so." Anders looked confused. He hadn’t even considered it, which might be a good thing. Either way, Cormac was still alive, so if he had, he hadn’t succeeded.
"I nearly killed Artemis, in the Fade. He almost let me," Fenris reminded Anders. "And we’re about to get married, now. I think that whatever you’ve done, it’s probably a great deal more forgiveable than attempted murder."
"That was different," Anders insisted. "That was the Fade. Demons. You weren’t you."
"I was me enough," Fenris muttered. "Were you
"Then there’s no point in feeling guilty."
"If you feel guilty for worrying him," Fenris gently interrupted, "fine. But your guilt doesn’t help him. He needs to see you." He could see the panic filling Anders’s eyes and added, "Or at least hear from you. I could talk to him, if you like. I suppose I could use flowers, though that didn’t end so well last time I tried."
Anders offered him a wan smile.
"He got me flowers once — got us flowers, I guess, not that Justice really understood them. I nearly punched him. That time, he deserved it." Anders tugged at the ends of his hair, which hung loose and ratty, hiding some of his face.
"I have become well-acquainted with flowers gone awry," Fenris offered, studying a corner of the ceiling. "And I frequently think your — think Cormac should be punched, on principle, if nothing else. I am in agreement with Carver, there, it seems."
"My what?" Anders asked, hollow eyes settling on Fenris’s cheeks.
Fenris took a deep breath. "Another year, and it will be ‘husband’ by Fereldan law…"
"What? We’re not getting married. I’m not getting married. Ever. Fuck the Chantry." Anders choked on his tongue, nervously twisting the ends of his hair around his fingers. And Fenris was wrong, anyway. They had a couple of years, yet, before that would come into it, and they weren’t in Ferelden, anyway. "It’s not like that. It’s nothing serious."
"Four years? Five? The two of you have been ‘non-seriously’ engrossed in each other for longer than I have been with Artemis." Fenris shook his head. "I have my doubts about how seriously you decline to take this, given that you are here, talking to me about how serious this non-serious situation has become." Fenris paused. "He’s been waiting for you, since that night. My mage went to drag him away, so he’d think of something else."
Waiting for him… Anders couldn’t quite picture it, couldn’t quite wrap his head around it. "That’s… no. It can’t be serious," Anders said, emphasising the word ‘can’t’, as though he had no choice in the matter. Then again, when it came to Hawkes and matters of the heart, Fenris was used to having no choice in what he felt either, though he was far from complaining.
"It can be," Fenris said, seeing the look in Anders’s eyes for what it was: fear, not denial. "The same way I can marry my mage. Because I’m free, and so are you. You and I, we can make choices like that now." They were the kind of choices that made freedom worth it, in his opinion.
Anders shook his head, looking back down at Fenris’s feet, but he didn’t argue. He considered pointing out that Cormac loved Artie, not him, but he suspected Fenris was the last person he should say that to.
"Do you want to stay here? Perhaps have Artemis and I with you, when you speak to Cormac, again?" Fenris offered. "It is a very large house. Many rooms are unused, if you wish to rest. You look… tired. Unwell."
The mage looked kinds of bad that Fenris hadn’t seen since the refugee population had stabilised in Kirkwall, and the fact that he was clearly unwashed didn’t help that at all. Not that Fenris was really one to talk. He’d lived among corpses and broken bottles for years, until Artemis convinced him to live, and not just to survive. He suddenly wasn’t sure Anders had found ‘living’ yet, which was strange, given how obnoxiously self-determined the mage had always seemed.
Anders shook his head again. "No, it shouldn’t happen here. It’s not right. I have a home. He has a home. We don’t need to do this in your living room."
"You don’t need to," Fenris agreed, "but you could. You could also come here for a drink after, if you find yourself in need of one."
"I think a drink was how this started," Anders said with a weak laugh. "But I might take you up on that." He ran his hand through his hair, frowning when it caught in a snarl. "I need to face him, don’t I?"
"You need to talk to him," Fenris corrected. "But… this might just come from living with Artemis, but I suggest you bathe first."