[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody In Ass Major – Chapter 179
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anders ♂, Artemis Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Cullen ♂, Donnic ♂, Carver Hawke ♂
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V2 D2)
Warnings: Death, destruction, misuse of lyrium
Notes: Artemis is extremely displeased that he’s not allowed to solve this problem. Nonetheless, the problem gets solved, in ways that make Cullen nervous.
"He WHAT?" Artemis roared. He dropped the broom and abandoned the half-cleaned room, storming for the door. His brothers had taken it so calmly that Anders hadn’t expected it, but luckily Cormac had and intercepted him at the door, as promised.
"Anton’s got it. You don’t want to go out in that. It’s going to be messy." Cormac grinned, furious delight sparkling in the corners of his eyes. He wrapped his arms around Artemis’s waist and spun back into the front room, before taking a few more steps, in an awkward impression of a certain Orlesian ballroom dance. "All we have to do is watch. Anton will let us know if he needs us."
Artemis growled, wriggling in Cormac’s arms and kicking his legs. "No. You know what would be messy?" he said, practically hissing. "Me dropping that asshole off the roof of the Circle, that’s what. Put me down!"
"Now, see, this is the reaction I expected from Cormac," Anders said, blue still flickering over his skin. "But, Artie? Please calm down. You’re riling Justice."
Fenris sighed and shook his head at the ceiling. Surrounded by mages. Again. "I’ll take that," he said to Cormac, throwing his mage over his shoulder. "You deal with the other one."
Cormac wrapped himself around Anders, nuzzling his neck. "Hey, it’s fine. Anton’s taking care of it. All we have to do is watch, and it’ll happen. Drink tea while justice is done. Or maybe I should do—" The look Fenris was giving him over Anders’s shoulder put a stop to the rest of that sentence. "The situation is under control. Carver found the problem. Anton’s removing the problem. I’m sure there are enough other problems you could be solving, although probably not mine because — Artie? Do you want to throw Hubert down a flight of stairs for me? I have written proof from his accountant that he’s ripping me off, and you should see the things this Orlesian asshole’s suggesting about our family!"
Piss everyone off about something else seemed like the way to go, here.
"Is this wise?" Fenris asked, struggling to keep a grip on Artemis.
"I have another answer, but he’s going to like it even less," Cormac said, readying a spell in his palm.
"Cormac," Artemis said, stiffening in Fenris’s arms. He couldn’t see his brother from this angle, but he knew what was coming. "If you cast barrier on me, so help me, there will be rashvine nettles in your robes and bedsheets for a month!"
Anders let out a cringing laugh. "Oh, please don’t do that. I spend a lot of time in that bed!"
"Collateral damage," Artemis replied. "Sorry, Anders."
"Calm down, Amatus," Fenris coaxed, patting the rump just to the side of his face. "Anton can handle this. I do not like the idea of you walking in there and using magic around so many templars, even if you are sneaky about it." He tactfully refrained from mentioning that ‘sneaky’ wasn’t something Artemis did well. "That wouldn’t help Carver."
Artemis sagged over Fenris’s shoulder, scowling at the floor. "Stop being so logical about it and let me kill something," he whined.
"I think that’s why your brother suggested Hubert."
"Come on, Artie. Just think of the opportunities to use all those exciting Orlesian phrases mum never used to let us say! I was right in the middle of an extremely angry letter. We could hand-deliver it. You could tell him exactly what you think of him, of Orlais, and of the way he’s been ripping me off for the last five years. And then you can throw him down the stairs a few times. Give him a concussion and he won’t even remember it, later." Cormac laughed and turned, one arm still around Anders, to run a lightly sparking finger over Artie’s ankle. "But, you can’t get between Anton and this templar. This is extremely dangerous, and I don’t want you ending up on the wrong side of the Carta or something. I have no idea what he’s got planned for this. He was gone before I made it out of the study, and Bodhan didn’t see him leave the house."
"Considering the last time you were at odds with the Carta you ended up freeing an ancient Tevinter magister," Fenris drawled, "I’d rather you didn’t."
"Fine, fine, yes," Artemis muttered, still scowling, and Fenris set him down but kept an arm around his waist just in case. He scratched at his arm, glancing back at the mess he’d left half-cleaned. "It’s stupid, but I keep thinking it’s because I haven’t been able to clean his room. Has he been making his bed? Probably not. Dammit, Carver."
"Please tell me you aren’t going to sneak into the Gallows to clean the barracks," Anders sighed. "I’m not cleaning up after that."
"No, no. Told you it was stupid. Now where’s Hubert? I feel like kicking an Orlesian."
The last thing Cormac was going to do was tell Artie that Hubert was in Orlais, meeting with the accountant. "I don’t know. He’ll show up. Come home and look at the books with me, hmm? I’m sure you’ll see even more than I did. And you just have to see the accountant’s note. If there were still a viscount, I’d be standing in his office. I may be Fereldan, but we’ve been nobles in the City of Kirkwall for long enough that this is getting political." He rested his head on Anders’s shoulder. "It’s unjust! It’s just not right! And the next time someone calls me a dog, I’m just going to burn Orlais to the ground. We can do that, right? It’s not that big. Might take a couple of weeks, but I bet we could."
"No, Cormac, you cannot burn all of Orlais to the ground," Anders sighed again. "The two of you are just — How did you survive this long? Where is the sense in this family?"
"Bethany," Cormac admitted. "Bethany is the sense in this family."
"Again, how did you survive this long?"
Artemis shrugged and offered Anders a crooked smile. "He has shields, and I’m pretty. We’ve established this."
Fenris nodded, unable to argue with that logic.
Donnic was walking his patrol of the Docks when he saw the glint of metal. Thanks to the Hawkes, this part of the city was safer, quieter than it used to be, and his morning had been uneventful. But that? That looked like armour in an alley behind one of the Dock’s seedier inns. Donnic’s first thoughts were of his fellow guardsmen, and he wondered which idiot had gotten that plastered in this part of the city.
He had to walk into the alley and kick some rubbish out of the way before he could see the Sword of Mercy on the man’s chest, and by then he could tell that the man in question wasn’t so much drunk as dead. Very dead. And it was not a pleasant death either, judging by the way he was contorted.
"Oh, Cullen will love this," Donnic muttered, wondering who the poor soul was. So much for a quiet morning.
The cause of death was quickly obvious to Cullen. Lyrium poisoning. But, Loren had been young, yet, and there was no reason to suspect it had started to get to him — not like that. But, the second clue was in the turned out pouches on his belt, the bottoms of all of them slit open. This wasn’t an accident, it was a hit. Loren had either gotten in the way of or gotten in debt to lyrium smugglers, and around here, that nearly always meant the Carta.
"How long do you think he’s been dead?" Cullen asked, kneeling beside the body to check for any lingering warmth. He’d been with Anton all night. Actually, he’d been with Anton since Anton had shown up in his office, in the early afternoon, furious and ready to slit throats. There was no way Anton could have been responsible for this. At least not directly. When he’d gotten up to deal with this, Anton had been asleep beside him, down hard after far too long awake.
"Some time in the night, I figure," Donnic said, with a shrug. "The last shift didn’t find him, and I was here, before that."
Couldn’t have been Anton. Cullen knew he’d seen Loren much too close to Anton arriving in his office for that to be possible. The man was alive when Anton arrived, and he’d died some time in the night, while Cullen was still with Anton. Still, Carver did have other brothers. He just didn’t think any of the others would have gone for something quite so … subtle.
Cullen wiped a hand over his face. The Circle — and Carver — would be safer without Loren, but it was like Alrik all over again. To effect change, he or Meredith needed to be the ones making examples out of templars like these. "Damn," he muttered.
"Did you know him well?" Donnic asked.
"Not well enough, apparently," Cullen muttered. "I wish I could say his death is a shame, but there’s no need for me to lie to you." Cullen patted Donnic’s shoulder and smiled grimly at his surprised expression. "Can you see to it that the body is taken care of? There’s a question I need to ask my husband."
"Of course, ser," Donnic said, brows knit in a question he didn’t ask.
Cullen sat down on the edge of the bed, dressed well, but not in his plate. There hadn’t been time. "Anton?" He reached out and rubbed his husband’s back, gently.
"No." Anton grumbled into the pillow. "If you’re not telling me you’re coming back to bed, the answer is no." He pulled the blanket over his head.
"We need to talk," Cullen insisted, quietly.
"No, I need to sleep. I’ve been trying to sleep for two days. You can talk to me after I sleep," Anton whined, grabbing the other pillow and pulling that over his head as well.
Cullen wished he could just drop it, just let Anton sleep and maybe even join him. "They found Loren this morning," he said instead, addressing the pillow over Anton’s head.
The pillow lifted but only just. "Who’s ‘they’, and have you punished the fucker yet?"
"‘They’ is actually ‘he’. Meaning Donnic, specifically. He found Loren’s body in an alley this morning."
The pillow slid off the rest of the way, joined soon after by the blanket. Anton still didn’t get up, but he turned to look at his husband. "Body. Did you say body? Implying said body was dead at the time?"
"Yes, I said body, and yes, I meant a dead one." Cullen searched Anton’s face, looking for a clue in his expression, anything that hinted his husband was acting, that he’d already known about Loren. He was grateful to find none, though he suspected that just meant Anton was a particularly good actor. "A lyrium overdose, it looks like."
"Looks like someone saved me the trouble," Anton replied, pulling the blanket back up under his chin. "Good. Now I can go back to sleep. If you’re not going to lay down, go back to work. I’ll bring lunch when I get up."
"So, you were going to do something, even after I said I’d handle it?" Cullen asked.
"Was going to go see you after I slept, and ask what you did. Notice the ‘after I slept’ in that sentence," Anton muttered, eyes drifting closed. "Could decide if I had to do something, myself, after that."
A few seconds passed, and Cullen opened his mouth, but one of Anton’s eyes popped open, and a question followed. "Wait, lyrium overdose? You sure that’s not an accident? A suicide?"
"The Carta made sure I’d know it wasn’t. At least I expect that was the Carta, unless you know of anyone else smuggling lyrium, around here."
"Nuh-uh. Lyrium’s nasty. I stay out of that. Not touching anything that can do that to a man." Anton shook his head, pressing his face further into the pillow.
Cullen refrained from commenting on that and instead reached over to scratch behind Mintaka’s ears. That dog was always on Anton’s sleep schedule.
Anton opened one eye, expression softening. "That’s not something I have to worry about with you, is it?" he asked.
"Working with smugglers?" Cullen drawled. "No."
Anton rolled his eyes. "I meant the lyrium."
Cullen kept petting Mintaka. The dog flopped over onto his back, giving Cullen his belly and all but demanding it be rubbed. Cullen obliged.
"You’re not even going to lie to make me feel better, are you?" Anton sighed, propping himself up on his elbow.
"Do you want me to?"
"Then no, you don’t have to worry."