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The Storm and What Came After

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Garrett reclines on the stairs into the Amell slaver passages, arms behind his head and the stone edge of the step biting into his spine.

"It's good to see Aveline's sense of punctuality hasn't changed after today's events," he says, crossing his legs daintily. There's a rip in the leather under his greaves, tinged with red lyrium.

Anders is quiet beside him, hunched forward and worrying at a buckle on his coat. Even in the dim lantern light, Garrett sees the emotion back on his face, so there's that.

"Can't imagine it's been less than an hour," Garrett continues. "Surely she knows we've got people to meet, cities to flee." Bags to pack, he lets hang in the air. Wars to begin.

If nothing else, at least he's making fine progress eradicating a fingernail.

The silence doesn't sit. "Patience is supposed to be a virtue, right? Maybe I should have one of them possess me."

Anders' breath is sharp, some kind of sad parody of a laugh.

"I'm just saying," Garrett shrugs.

Anders finally looks at him, and six years of knowing the man and three years of really knowing him don't make his knit brows and determined eyes any easier to face.

"She'd sent for the Right, you know," he says.

"Anders--"

"To Val Royeaux. To the Divine. And she would have granted it."

Garrett finally rips that nail. He can see it as clearly as anything else in the dark; waking up one warm spring morning and learning over eggs and bread and Nevarran tea that every mage in Kirkwall was dead.

He snorts. "You never had to justify yourself to me."

"You know why I couldn't tell you," Anders says, the same petulant frown on his face as when they argue over whether Anders could sell a birthday gift for clinic money or who left Garrett's robe where the dog could get at it. Maybe a touch more desperate and haunted.

"I--" Anders tries. "If you'd helped..." He's fumbling for words, but Garrett doesn't have any he wants to offer. "I don't regret it," he says, then chokes out a small laugh. "That probably makes me a terrible person." He looks small slumped around his knees, like a fifteen year-old boy in a tower, not the man who'd jerked Kirkwall off its ass.

"Probably," Garrett agrees. "Also an ironic person. Healer and all."

"Don't explain the joke, love."

"You really picked the perfect moment to start critiquing my delivery." He can barely hear himself deadpan over Anders' eyes heavy on him, warm and concerned, and they won't flaming quit.

"I don’t--" Garrett starts, but he shuts his damn mouth, and it chokes him and begs him and pleads not to surface, sitting like a rock in his belly and yanked kicking and screaming up his throat. He grits his teeth, shuts his eyes, and in a too-small voice just says it: "What sort of person am I that I'm dropping everything to go play revolution with someone who just blew up a building?"

It's too bloody quiet in the stair passage, no proper crackling fire to ease pesky tensions.

This is the first they've stopped moving since the sky turned pink, so maybe that's why the hard spirit in Anders' head, the one that might not have anything to do with the Fade, lets him finally reach across and cover Garrett's gloved hand with his.

"A good man," Anders answers softly. "Probably the greatest man I've ever known."

Garrett laughs, and it sounds kind of like a mabari bark. "I know, right?" He squeezes Anders' hand tight. "It's like the Maker designed me himself."

Anders massages Garrett's fingers loose, pouring gentle healing magic into his angry joints. "I've brought so much ugliness into your life," he echoes. "Thank you for bringing joy and hope into mine." Then he smirks, familiar but a little new. "I might miss the bed, though."

"And the food," Garrett adds.

"And the roof."

"And the food."

They both chuckle, and Garrett slips both arms around Anders and leans close, mouth on his neck, breathing in his rumbles of laughter.

Anders settles a hand in his hair, his pulse slowing under Garrett's lips, and Garrett can't see his face but he hopes all its little lines, lines he sometimes pretends are pressure dents from where he carries the burdens of Thedas literally on his head, are finally relaxing.

His smell, their combined smells, of blood and sweat and not really tears but definitely body odor, reminds Garrett that they both really need a bath. Maybe they'll get one before they leave, but for now, kissing Anders' mouth instead of his skin seems like the easiest, most belated, most missed solution.

It's deep and needy, a flash of tongue but mostly emotion, desperate noises echoing through the room and Anders' hands pulling him close. Anders climbs onto his lap, since only one of them has the knees for this, especially on stairs, but from now on they'll probably have to take what they can get.

That would be a more sobering thought if Anders wasn't kissing him so sincerely.

"I can't believe you would still be with me," he breathes, because they hadn't already covered this ten times, once with the ash still settling in the air and a sanctimonious if understandable prig shouting for Anders' death.

"Can't really go play silly buggers in the countryside without you, love."

This close it's hard to see Anders' smile, so he feels it, brittle but still pretty amazing--almost a shame to kiss it away, but he does it anyway and pulls Anders tight until there's no space between them, one arm around his neck and the other at the small of his back, where he can imagine the soft skin and skinny waist under layers of black padding. Anders cups his face with both hands even though he's not going anywhere.

It's too soon when Anders pulls back, face flushed. "We can't do this right now," he says, breathless.

"Do what?" Garrett asks, the very (handsome and rugged) picture of innocence, brushing aside a strand of hair at Anders' face before nipping at his mouth.

Anders smirks and rolls his hips over where the familiar press of bodies has made them each at least a little hard, and Garrett can’t stop the hitch in his breath.

"Unintended consequences," Garrett replies between kisses. "Collateral damage. Unforeseen circumstances."

Anders huffs. "Aveline will be back soon, Maker willing, and we've so much work to do."

"There's always work to do." Anders is dreadfully close to requiring knitting needles for those brows of his, only it's more existential than a petty pout. "Listen," Garrett says, "if I can't just rub one out willy-nilly whenever I feel like it while we're on our adventures--"

Anders snickers despite himself and kisses Garrett quiet, then presses his lips to Garrett's temple.

He doesn't speak after that, instead letting his arms settle around Garrett's shoulders. The minutes pass in the most comfortable silence they've had in a while--not perfect, still roiling with thought like dread and excitement, but comfortable. Familiar.

Eventually armored footsteps echo through the passage, and Aveline finally calls her signal. They disentangle and straighten up, as reluctant as anything, and when Aveline comes within eyeshot they're simply resting against each other, Anders' head on his shoulder.

"Did they name the next Age yet?" Garrett asks. "I hope it's something nice, like the Picnic Age or the Lots-of-Drinking-and-Partying Age."

He feels Anders' smile against his neck just before he pulls away.

"Not the time," she says, no nonsense to her voice. "The house is clear, and no one's coming by for at least a day, you have my word. Pack quick."

"Now why don't I believe that's a happy coincidence?"

He thinks he hears the metal crunching of arms crossing, and when she comes to stand level with them in the meager light, he sees he wasn't wrong. "Hawke," she says, eyes steely and pointedly ignoring Anders beside him, "this is the last I can do for you."

They watch each other for a second, and Garrett nods. "Right," he says. "Be at the docks when we leave."

"I'm not--"

"I know."

Aveline frowns, then sighs and and leaves down the stairs for Darktown, not quite goodbye, but soon.

Garrett lets out a shaky breath.

Anders arms are crossed over his knees again, the suede of his jacket pulled tight over his elbows. "...Are you alright?"

Garrett bumps his shoulder. "I'm surprised the first words out of your mouth just now weren't, 'Good riddance'."

"Well," Anders says, but that's all he says, and suddenly, even with near everything in a freefall to utter shit, the lanterns in the passages seem a little brighter.

Maybe it's just his eyes finally adjusting.

Garrett stands. "Let's go," he says, helping Anders to his feet, and their bones creak in time.

"I really hate moving," Garrett says.

"Imagine all the cleaning you'll get to do, love, pitching all those things we don't need. We'll get a leg up on Spring."

Garrett takes Anders' hand, and they ascend the stairs. "We might even get to wash the dead people smell off us."

* * *