[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 301
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Cormac Hawke ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Fenris ♂, Anders ♂, Natia Brosca ♀, Nathaniel Howe ♂
Rating: M (L2 N0 S1 V0 D1)
Warnings: Dick jokes, nobody likes being underground, Anders has some issues, Nate was not expecting a repeat of the Vigil but he’ll roll with it
Notes: To sleep, perchance to have nightmares and seek comfort from an old friend.
The rest of the group lingered at the door of the room, talking among themselves. Anders seemed to be Anders, at a glance, now that the blue glow had left him. "We need to make camp," he argued. "And right here is probably the best place for it. I am not hiking all the way back out — or even back out enough that we don’t have a flat surface under us — before I sleep."
"Getting lazy, Anders," Nathaniel teased.
"Don’t," Cormac warned.
Anders whipped around and grabbed Nathaniel by the edges of the plate across his chest. "I haven’t slept since we entered the tunnels. There were darkspawn, then. Now there are not. Now, I am going to sleep."
"Since you entered the tunnels? We’re almost a week underground!" Nathaniel looked up in horror. Warden stamina was one thing, but a week?
The smile that spread across Anders’s face was one Nathaniel had seen before, that little uptilt of the chin, the glittering brightness of his eyes. "Justice doesn’t need to sleep."
"And so, we’re making camp. Right here," Anton said, a little more loudly than necessary, with a bit of forced cheer. "Fenris, Natia, let’s go get that set up. I think my brother can keep these two from murdering each other!"
"Thanks, Anton," Cormac sighed. "Look, if the two of you could move on from the antagonistic throttling to the sexy throttling, I’d be thrilled."
Nathaniel pushed Anders’s hands away, eyes just a shade too wide as they took in his friend. Friends. Two friends, who were now in the same body, a body they were likely going to wreck if they kept this up. "Right," he said, looking green around the edges. "Let’s camp. Preferably without throttling of any kind."
"I make no promises," Anders said, still with that unnerving smile.
The darkspawn were dead, but the atmosphere was still tense, still heavy, as Natia, Fenris, and Anton set up tents and bedrolls and took stock of their supplies. Without the crawling weight of darkspawn on his mind, Anders’s fatigue hit him full-force. He was the kind of shaky over-tired where he wasn’t sure he’d able to fall asleep if he tried. Anton pointed him to a bedroll anyway.
Anders forced himself to lie down, rather than just collapsing into a heap and staring at the awkward angles of the floor, his coat, and the ripples of blanket under him. His breathing slowed, but his hands still shook, even as Cormac eased down next to him, wrapping around him. Cormac was so warm. Cormac was always so warm.
"You’re freezing," Cormac pointed out, like he so often did, unfolding his own bedroll to pull it up over both of them.
"You’re like sleeping next to a forge," Anders slurred back, wondering when his tongue had gotten so sloppy.
Cormac snorted and shook his head. Anders made this argument every time he was tired enough to be cold. Once, he’d insisted on checking if Cormac was sick, only to find out his magic had left him. "Doesn’t matter. As long as you get warmer."
"I like being warm. I don’t like being underground."
"I know, pretty thing. I know." Cormac smoothed Anders’s hair and pulled him closer, trying to touch as much as possible and making sure the blanket actually covered Anders, instead of only reaching from his shoulders to halfway down his shins.
"I’ll take the first watch," Nathaniel volunteered. "I don’t think I can sleep, anyway." He watched the way Cormac held Anders, didn’t think he’d ever held Anders like that, but they’d been pretty drunk, most of the time. Maybe he had. It still looked like much more of a commitment than he’d ever have given the man.
Anders closed his eyes, his breathing slowing, but he did not sleep, at least not at first. It smelled like the Deep Roads, wet earth and rock and the pungent, sour stink of Blighted blood. He always did have trouble getting that smell out of his clothes, and Anders twisted, just enough that he could bury his nose in Cormac’s sleeve. It also smelled like dirt and blood, but under that, it smelled like Cormac, like the estate, like the home he’d built in Kirkwall, far above this wretched place. It was enough to soothe him into sleep.
Sleep, but not rest. Through closed eyes, he saw the darkspawn they had killed, saw ogres twist free from their icy prisons, watched hurlocks rise from the dead. He reached for his magic, calling an ice spell to his lips, but it backfired, hands freezing solid, ice creeping up his arms and leaving him cold, always cold. In front of him, the pair of ogres shifted, melting, twisting, limbs and claws growing long and attenuated. Ice continued to crawl up Anders’s arms as he stared down the Architect and Corypheus, side-by-side and speaking to him in whispers he wanted to but couldn’t hear.
Anders woke with half a fire spell on his lips.
Cormac made an inquisitive noise, and Anders recognised that. Whatever else might be going on, that was Cormac, and he was still asleep, which meant it wasn’t serious.
"Go back to sleep," he whispered against Cormac’s hair. "I just have to water the bones of the Ancestors."
Cormac snorted and nudged Anders’s chin with the top of his head, before drifting off again, as Anders got up. He actually did have to pee, he noticed, after a moment, but he really hadn’t wanted to fidget against Cormac’s side. At home, he’d have woken Cormac. Here… Here he’d let the man have what sleep he could get.
After a moment of splashing sounds in the lee of the stairs, he headed back toward the camp, and spotted Nate still lounging against some of Temmerin’s dismantled gear.
"Nightmares?" Nathaniel asked, already knowing the answer.
Anders just nodded, as he sat down beside the other Warden. "Been a while since the last time we were in something like this together."
"Like you, I was rather hoping that would be ‘never again’," Nathaniel replied, offering Anders the bottle he held.
"And here’s something I never thought I’d taste again," Anders said, raising it to his lips. "Still vile. Mine’s better."
Nathaniel huffed and snatched the bottle back.
"Missed you," Anders muttered, inching closer, raising a hand but not actually touching Nathaniel’s face.
"Yeah, it’s been kind of expensive, since you left," Nathaniel admitted, shaking his head and taking another swig.
"Just seeing you again," Anders admitted, running his fingers down Nathaniel’s neck. "Smelling you again." He leaned in and pressed his lips to Nathaniel’s, only to be met with a muffled sound of shock.
Nathaniel shoved him back and wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist, his other hand staying on Anders’s shoulder to keep him at arms’ length. "What the shit, Anders?" he hissed. "Why are you kissing me? We don’t kiss! That’s gross."
Anders sat back, feathers and expression equally ruffled. Colour rose high on his cheeks, but with any luck, the dark hid it from Nathaniel. "I don’t know," he said defensively. "I just wanted to, just the once. But I’ll rein in the impulse."
Nathaniel eyed him, checking Anders’s skin for any blue cracks. "I’m surprised Justice didn’t ‘rein in the impulse’ for you," he said.
"Justice doesn’t care any more," Anders said flatly.
"But he is in there right now? Listening to this?" Nathaniel couldn’t quite decide how he felt about that. They shared a body. Justice and Anders saw, felt, tasted the same things, right? "That is… unnerving."
"Why?" Anders asked, his grin sharp. "Which one of us do you not want kissing you? Justice or me?"
"Both!" Nathaniel sputtered, speaking perhaps a bit too quickly.
"Just kissing, or are you going to tell me you don’t want us touching you, too?" Anders’s smile was almost gleeful as he ran a charge through his fingers and swiped one across Nathaniel’s lip.
Nathaniel batted the hand away, but said nothing.
"You know, he always thought you’d flirted with him, the time you said you wouldn’t consider him a demon," Anders teased.
"I am not drunk enough for this. I don’t know if there’s enough alcohol in all of Thedas for this." Nathaniel’s hands ran nervously through his hair. "He’s really…? You’re fucking with me, right? Thought I was flirting? He was a corpse at the time!"
"He was basing it off how you talked to Velanna, I think." Anders laughed. "And he’s … much less uptight about some things, these days. Cats. The spit-polishing of knobs."
Nathaniel choked on his whiskey, pressing his wrist to his chin to wipe the dribbles. "Now, I know you’re fucking with me."
"I am not." Anders sat up straighter, pulling his shoulders back and lifting his chin. "But, I could be fucking you. Do you miss it? Do you miss me? Do you miss being satisfied?"
Nathaniel took another long gulp of whiskey, just so he wouldn’t have to answer that right away. "I didn’t miss your constant chatter," he said, but the way he looked at Anders, with hunger, answered his questions. "But I admit to missing… certain things." He’d admit that here, in the dark, with whiskey in his belly.
"‘Certain things’, hmm?" Anders purred, shifting closer, close enough that their thighs were touching, and took the bottle back for another long pull. It burned in a way only Warden Whiskey did, in a way only Nate’s whiskey did. Sitting in the Deep Roads, with this drink on his tongue and Nathaniel at his side, Anders could, for a moment, pretend that he was back at Vigil’s Keep. "Is there one ‘thing’ in particular? I think there is. Or do you still need to be drunk to admit it?"
Nathaniel took the bottle back with a glare. "You never were very subtle."
Anders shrugged. "That tends to work in my favour. Usually."
They sat quiet, for a few moments, Nathaniel raising a hand when Anders opened his mouth, and Anders caught on almost immediately. They were, after all, keeping watch. Silence swirled behind Justice’s mild objections, and Anders knew there were no darkspawn, whatever else might be down there with them.
"You’ve got trousers on," Nathaniel observed, at last. "When did that start?"
"I had to be a little more subtle, in Kirkwall. And living in the sewers was making my balls cold." Anders shrugged and smoothed the feathers at his shoulders.
"In. The sewers." Nathaniel turned a flat look on Anders. "Why am I not surprised you’ve come to this?"
"Because I’m gorgeous filth, and it’s strangely fitting?" Anders smiled like he hadn’t in a lot of years, that old antagonistic grin. "Besides, I live in a mansion, now. With my cats— Don’t give me that look! Your sister’s been there! She’ll tell you it’s true!"
"And whose knob did you swallow for that?" Nathaniel asked, with nearly no malice.
"It’s not like that," Anders said, looking back to where Cormac slept, a few steps away, thinking of how Cormac always looked out for him, right down to bringing him food and a few stiff drinks, in those first days after— "He’s a friend. Was a friend before any of this. Knows me now, somehow still a friend. Kind of like you, but, you know, actually pleasant and friendly."
"Pleasant and friendly?" Nathaniel said with an edge to his smile. "Where’s the fun in that?"
"Surprisingly enough, I actually find the pleasantness pleasant," Anders replied. "You should try it on, some time. Like I tried on pants. Miracles happen."
Anders reached for the drink again, and Nathaniel huffed, handing him the bottle and swatting a stray feather out of his face. "If he’s so wonderfully pleasant, why aren’t you sitting on his knob instead of sniffing after mine?" He asked it like an idle question, like he was genuinely curious, and not an accusation.
"Because he and his knob are trying to sleep. But if they weren’t, I’d be sitting on his knob and sniffing after yours."
Nathaniel choked out a laugh, glad Anders still had the bottle. He didn’t need to dribble more whiskey down his chin. "Good to see that, pants or no pants, you’re still a slut, Anders."
"Have I ever disputed this point?" Anders took another swig and then passed the bottle back. "And if you’re glad of it, I could switch this to a no-pants occasion. I don’t think anyone else would mind. And, you’ve seen me handle darkspawn, without pants, so I’m pretty sure that whatever might decide to sneak up on us is not going to be a problem, no matter how much knob I’m sitting on. Yes, I’ve gotten even better at that." He dragged a sparking finger down the side of Nathaniel’s neck, as soon as the man had swallowed. "And this."
"Do it." Nathaniel didn’t move, but for his lips. "No pants. On your knees."