[ Master Post ]
Title: Rhapsody in Ass Major – Chapter 334
Fandom: Dragon Age
Characters: Jethann ♂, Meredith ♀, Orsino ♂, Cullen ♂, Anton Hawke ♂, Sebastian ♂
Rating: M (L2 N3 S1 V0 D1)
Warnings: Jethann, shut up Cormac, a reading of some Page Six in all its spicy glory
Notes: A demonstration of why we are thanking Jethann. Later, Sebastian finds himself in Lowtown, with a mission and an uncomfortable situation. (The ‘Page Six’ in this and the next chapter is Brother Mine by Mevima.)
Everyone in the Gallows knew Meredith’s tread, the heavy, assured, heel-toe pattern of her walk. The halls cleared at the sound, and mages and templars alike tried to read her mood based on the speed of that walk. Today, that walk was brisk, which rarely boded well.
"Lieutenant," Meredith called out to another templar as she passed.
"Yes, Commander?" Lieutenant Penis paused to stand at attention, his back stiffly straight.
"If you happen to see the Knight-Captain, do tell him to stop by my office. I cannot seem to find him or his shadow, and I should like to speak with him."
"Of course, Commander," Ser Penis replied, ducking his head respectfully, but Meredith was already halfway down the hall.
Her office, at least, would be well-lit at this time of day, and Meredith pushed her way through the door… only to freeze in the doorjamb when she found more than sunlight lazing across her desk.
"Don’t you think this seems a bit harsh?" asked the naked elf on her desk, a few of her papers in his hand. He held up one, but she didn’t pull her stare away long enough to read it. "Of course, if you’re into harsh, I’m sure I could handle a few good swats. I’m told I’ve got just the right ass for it." The elf offered her a wicked smile.
"What is the meaning of this?" Meredith asked in a small voice.
"Oh, you’ve got some friends who thought you could use a little time off, and off is one of my specialities." Jethann winked. "Well, getting it, anyway." He swung his legs down, and let the momentum carry him into a sitting position, as he set the papers aside and smiled coyly. "I’ve had my eye on you for years, Commander. And this was just such a lovely favour for both of us, don’t you think? Don’t worry, your friends have taken care of the business end of things. All you have to do is enjoy my delightful presence, in almost any way you like!"
Meredith stood and blinked, a bit. "You… someone paid you to take your clothes off and lounge on my desk?"
"In about that many words, yes." Jethann nodded, knees parting along the edge of the desk as he leaned back, catching himself on one arm and rubbing the other hand enticingly down his chest and thigh.
Meredith turned and clanked back to the door, shouting into the hall, "Why is there a naked elf on my desk? Whose doing is this!?"
"One-two-three, not it!" drifted out the open door of Orsino’s office, followed by a sound that might have been muffled snickering. He’d seen Jethann come in, and wondered who among the templars would be spending that much coin for something, without leaving the building to do it. Now, he understood.
Meredith’s cheeks flamed red, hot enough to let off steam. Her gauntlets creaked as she clenched her fists. "Who did this?" she shouted again, her voice’s sharp edges ricocheting down the hall. The only answer she received was more muffled snickering. This didn’t have to do with why she couldn’t find Cullen, was it? She would murder the man.
"Oh, Commander!" Jethann sing-songed. "Aren’t you going to come in? There’s some work for you to do on your desk. And I know how hard you like to work."
The laughter that echoed down the wall was no longer muffled. Meredith slammed her door shut and stormed away.
It was well after lunch, by the time Cullen and Anton made it home, and neither of them looked like they’d make it up the stairs. Fortunately, neither of them was above crawling up the stairs. By the time they fell into bed, they thought nothing could possibly keep them awake any longer — at least until the sounds from down the hall filtered in.
"I’m going to murder my brother," Anton groaned. "I saved him from blood mages, so I could kill him, myself. You work with more mages than live in my house. Isn’t there a spell for that? For … shutting the fuck up?"
"You ask me, I think they do it just to annoy you," Cullen muttered. After a pause, "None of that noise is Anders, is it?"
"In all the years he’s been banging my brother, I’ve never heard a sound out of him that made it through the door." Anton pulled a pillow over his head.
"The First Enchanter could take a lesson," Cullen grumbled. "I thought you sent Jethann to see Meredith."
Anton blinked, eyelashes moving against the pillow before he pulled it off of his head again. "I… did?" he said, wondering if he had heard that correctly. "Did you say the First Enchanter?"
"Yes," Cullen answered, staring up at the ceiling with haunted eyes. "There are things I never needed to know about that man, and that sound was one of them."
Anton tried not to picture it — he really did — but there it was: two elves and the Staff of Violation. He bit the inside of his cheek against a snort of laughter. "Are you sure it wasn’t Jethann?" he asked.
Cullen’s face twisted, and Anton could tell he was trying desperately not to picture it too, "Maker’s breath, I don’t care! I don’t need that either!"
Anton patted his arm consolingly. "Just don’t tell Artie. Two elves, and he wasn’t invited? He’d sulk. And… no, nope, that is another thing I didn’t need to picture. Quick, Cullen, flash me your knob! I need a better image in my head."
The sounds that echoed down the hall hardly helped.
Cullen groaned and pulled the blankets over their heads. "Close enough."
Anton shifted closer, intent on seeing with his hands, in the darkness under the blankets. "Did they all make it back all right?" he asked, almost absently, hands wandering Cullen’s body, as his eyes drifted shut.
"Mmm. Had to smack a few heads together, to make it believable, but they’re fine. People think we took them down to the dungeon for a couple of days. Writing some reports to back that up." Cullen nuzzled under Anton’s cheek, a warm sound working its way out between long, exhausted breaths. "Later. Reports later."
"‘S good. You think she’ll believe it?" Anton asked, cringing as another desperate wail echoed through the house.
"Hope so. Was going to talk to Orsino about it, too, but … he sounded busy." Cullen tossed a leg over Anton’s hip.
"Mages being… busy. That seems to be a theme." Anton scowled when another shriek punctuated that observation. "I was rather thinking about being ‘busy’ myself, but those dying nug sounds don’t exactly put me in the mood." He groped Cullen anyway, on principle.
"I’m sure I can fix that," Cullen said, aiming for a sly smile that just ended up looking sleepy. He pulled Anton closer against him but just ended up lying there, wrapped up in him. "…tomorrow," he decided, the word mumbled against Anton’s hair.
The next wail from down the hall mixed with the sound of Cullen’s snores.
As the city came apart around him, Sebastian was determined to see for himself what had driven people so far as to make threats against the Grand Cleric, herself. It seemed ridiculous, really, but the Chantry was the centre of life in Kirkwall, just as it was in all of Thedas, and there must have been some wrong the people were holding against the Chantry. Some irreparable defect of life in Kirkwall — and for all the talk of mage rebellion, the only hint of it he’d actually witnessed had been those… Revolutionists, or whatever Anders had called them. And Anders, himself, had stopped them, which was a good bit more credit than he’d been willing to give the man, to that point.
But, with the Chantry where it was, Sebastian found that he spent most of his time in Hightown, aside from the occasional excursion to that Nevarran restaurant in Lowtown that Bethany liked. He’d seen the beggars and the working folk around the market, but that seemed to be how cities worked, to his recollection. The markets of Starkhaven had been much the same. No, something more and deeper was wrong with Kirkwall. He thought back on Lady Harrimann and wondered. Could it be that? Could it be so simple as that the common folk were exposed to demons rising up from the unfathomed depths below the city, and that they needed the arm of the chantry to protect them? But, the templars, he’d heard, were already patrolling the streets, and he knew no better force to combat demons. Still, perhaps there was a need for more outreach from the Chantry proper.
He would do it, he decided. He would go to Lowtown and take a table at the Hanged Man, where everyone seemed to go, eventually, and listen to their tales. He would bring some aid and reassurance to the poor.
And so it was that on the third night of this, already shocked to the very bones at the conditions in which people lived, that Sebastian bought himself a pint of stout — perhaps not the wisest choice, given the rest of what passed for drinkable — and settled in for another night of horrors. What would he do? What could he do? The Chantry, clearly, was meant to take in abandoned children, to care for the poor and the sick, but none of his fellows could be found below the stairs. Everyone he spoke to praised the unyielding efforts of Lirene and her healer friend — Anders. How had he never noticed? A shopkeeper and a mage had been caring for the refugees for almost as long as there had been refugees in Kirkwall, and the Chantry had made no contribution anyone could name.
He would look into the books, he decided. Talk with the Grand Cleric. He knew money was still being funnelled into the Templar Order, but surely that was in addition to whatever funding was intended to be helping the people of Kirkwall. After the incidents of inappropriate conduct, over the last few years, Sebastian wondered if the money hadn’t been stolen by whoever had been meant to see to its use. He would find out who was responsible, he decided. He would track down the source of the problem and a solution, and bring it to the Grand Cleric. He would do the Maker’s work, as he was meant to do.
Halfway into his drink, and a good way through the page he was writing, a voice caught his attention. A man on the other side of the room had begun loudly telling a story — reading from the Gazette, it sounded like. That made sense. A decent portion of these people probably couldn’t read, and it was very good of whoever that was to take the time to read the news to them. It put a smile on his face, for a moment, and then the man finished the introduction and passed into the body of the tale. Page Six. He didn’t read it, but you couldn’t live in Kirkwall without knowing it.
That voice was getting under his skin, though. At first, he thought it was just the familiarity of it — sounded kind of like someone he’d met, but he couldn’t place who — but, as he gave up writing and sat back to listen, the pull of the voice intensified, and not just on his brain.
"Terrified, heart pounding in my throat, I touched my tongue to his lips and sweet Maker, he opened for me," the voice read, the last words nearly a moan, and Sebastian’s nipples twinged, as he became suddenly aware of his pulse, in his groin.
That was ridiculous, obviously. He’d never been interested in other men. Certainly not men telling stories about men kissing other men. Really, the whole thing sat rather poorly with him, but he couldn’t really leave. He had no intention of standing up in the condition he was well on his way to. What if someone noticed? What if someone noticed a Chantry Brother on a mission of charity straining at his trousers? No, he would sit right here and drink his beer and silently recite the Chant to himself, until the situation improved. That was the sensible thing to do. The reasonable thing.