"What have you done, mage?"
Anders leaned up on his elbows and scrubbed a hand down his stubbled cheek. He honestly had no idea why the room smelled so musky, or why it wasn't even his bedroom. Nevermind that Fenris was naked and covering his bare chest like some disgraced woman. He would have fared a mite better cupping those hands around his genitals. "I don't -- Why are you naked?"
"A good question," Fenris spat, "One that you should hasten in answering, before I cut off your blighted head."
The mage blinked drowsily, taking a deep smell of the air. He smirked and shrugged a shoulder. It didn't take a genius to understand what had happened. "I'd say some port wine and fondling happened," Anders murmured, leaning back on his hands, "And then some good old fashioned fucking. That's only a guess though."
"What? How could---" Fenris growled and tossed an empty bottle of wine at Anders' head. It missed and struck the wall with a fantastic shattering. Anders just barely managed to roll away before glass could rain down over his head and his vulnerably naked body. "You son of a bitch," Fenris seethed, "I should have suspected as much... No mage has ever done anything with pure intentions."
"As I recall, you were the instigator," Anders said, "From my recollection - it is quite fuzzy, mind you - I seem to recall some rather grabby, insistent hands on me. Your mouth was pretty insistent too, Fenris. And well, you know me... I've always found it hard to say no to soft, hairless skin." Anders smiled and ran his eyes over Fenris' lean body. "Especially with those pretty little markings of yours."
"Shut your mouth," Fenris said through his teeth, "Don't you look at me. I'll cut your eyes out you lying, conniving mage whore."
"Of the two of us, I'd imagine that word is more suited for you, Fenris."
Fenris' hands twitched as though he meant to retaliate. There were no more bottles or glasses nearby to be thrown, and he felt far too tired and sore to pounce on the mage as he would have liked. Probably he had pounced enough the previous night... The thought made Fenris sick.
"You have preyed on me like a parasite," Fenris accused, "Your sympathy last night was nothing more than the tactics of an experienced bullshitter." He laughed bitterly and gathered up his clothes. The way he moved was oddly dignified, but Anders could tell how ashamed he was. Those pretty eyes of his remained turned to the ground. "I have made the mistake before of trusting a mage," Fenris said, "Rest assured that will not happen again."
"I didn't make you do anything you didn't want to do," Anders argued, "I would have thought this... experience, might have sweetened you on mages. At least on me. I'm not a monster, Fenr---"
"You are a monster," Fenris snapped, "An abomination. The Circle of this place is too kind for someone like you, Anders. The only help there could ever be for someone so poisonous is at the end of a blade."
Fenris expected some kind of speech, noble and indignant in its message. But all Anders did was look at him with wounded pride, a slight tremble in his lips and chin. Fenris ignored the pity that chilled his heart and dressed himself, moving for the door before remembering that it was, after all, his mansion they were in. "Get out," he told Anders, looking away when the mage rolled from the bed and searched for his own garments. "If you show up here again you will be met with an axe between your eyes."
Anders passed him, and Fenris breathed a sigh of relief. Enough had been said. Anders, though, could never bite his tongue for long. At the doorway, he paused, and set his eyes on the elf. "I have often thought over the years that your hatred of me stemmed from nothing more than ignorance. The magisters, Danarius, your own sister... You had reason enough to loathe mages. But I can see now that what you hate about me is that I am freer than you can ever hope to be. Say what you will about me Fenris, but I have never run away from my past. If anything, I embrace it all too eagerly."
"You have never been a slave," Fenris told him.
Anders smiled sadly, "Haven't I?"
He left Fenris alone with his shame and anger.
"What were you and Anders up to last night?"
"Isabela," Fenris cautioned.
The woman smiled, leaning forward with her face in her hands and her coy eyes half lidded. "Ooh," she cooed, letting her tongue curl slightly against her upper lip, "Let me guess?"
"Guess if you like," Fenris said, "I've no need to hide anything from you. Chances are very good a woman of your reputation cannot be lied to."
Isabela grinned. "You naughty thing. You and... Anders? What is it about him that attracts almost every man I know? At this rate I'll have to seduce Varric." She chuckled and tapped her finger against her chin, "He is awfully sweet though. A bit short, but then, he's the perfect height for---"
"Oh, you spoil all my fun," Isabela groused, "Go on then. Tell me what happened."
"I'd rather not discuss it. I made a mistake, and it will not be repeated. That mage is dead to me as far as I'm concerned. If you tell Hawke..." Fenris made a face and scratched behind his ear. "Don't tell Hawke."
"Hawke is a sharp man," Isabela said, "He'll find out." She reached out and took Fenris' hands, her touch a little too delicate. "Anders is a hard man to forget, or so I've been told. He's so damn cute isn't he?"
"I wouldn't know," Fenris argued, lamely, pulling his hands free from hers. "Shut up about him."
"Oh," Isabela purred, "I strike a nerve, darling?"
Fenris rose from the table. "Goodbye, Isabela."
Isabela frowned, "Poo. Now I'll never know if Justice made an appearance. Mmm. I'm sure he's quite the lover. He'd probably do you so hard you couldn't walk." A mock shiver coursed through her body. "Delicious."
Fenris sighed and left her to her fantasies.
Fenris watched the man from the doorway of his 'clinic'. He wasn't sure what had brought him there, and if Anders discovered him, he couldn't very well use the scenery as an excuse. The only people who came to Darktown were slavers and drunks; or the poor and infirmed.
With Anders’ treatment, it was no wonder so many people flocked to him. Fenris only wondered what price they had to pay to be healed with magic... No coin, he knew, but sometimes a price was too steep to be measured in silver.
Against his better judgment Fenris watched Anders work his magic on the child stretched across his table. The girl’s parents were holding each other, the mother with her face turned into her husband's chest. Anders seemed oblivious to the both of them, so intent on the girl and her broken little body that he seemed to be connected to her on some kind of deep, spiritual level.
Anders had the power to be an imposing, frightening, formidable foe; and yet his touch was gentle and his amber eyes were soft and even a bit wet when the girl reached out with her tiny hand and touched his face. “Yes, sweetheart,” Fenris heard Anders say, “Yes, you're alright.”
Anders took her hand and pressed a kiss into her palm, stepping back to allow the child's mother to scoop her into her arms. The father approached Anders, spoke low to him for a moment, and then took the mage’s scruffy face into his hands and kissed his cheeks gently. “Praise the Maker,” the father said tremulously, “Praise you, Anders.”
The mage smiled and flushed under the man's hands, pulling back with an embarrassed laugh. “I do what I can to help, serah. There’s no need to thank me. I’m only using the gifts that the Maker gave me.”
“There are mages who do nothing but prey on those weaker than themselves,” the man said, and then he pressed his lips to Anders’ forehead. “But there are men who do not have the excuse of being mages to explain their savagery,” he finished, “May Andraste guide you and keep you safe, Anders.”
“And you, serah,” Anders said, nodding at the three as they left.
When they were gone, Fenris watched Anders take a seat with a heavy sigh, resting his head back and closing his eyes. There was no reason to stay, there had never been a reason that he should watch Anders in his little hovel, but for some reason Fenris could not leave. He tried to correlate the man sitting inside with his tender hands and eyes to the man who had been his Master. Both of them had been mages, and so, both of them had to be the same. All mages lusted for power and control, they would sell their souls and corrupt their own blood for even the slimmest chance of gaining wealth and power and influence.
”But I can see now that what you hate about me is that I am freer than you can ever hope to be.”
Fenris wanted to feel indignant about the accusation, but he simply could not. He was not a stupid man by any means, and he could recognize when someone was right. Anders lived and loved in a way that Fenris couldn't. He was as free with his affections as Fenris was guarded. Mage or not, apostate or not, Anders was simply, well, Anders. Stupid and gullible and naive enough to trust his body to the ravages of a Fade spirit; and yet, sweet and tender and passionate enough to believe that love and friendship were enough to justify all things.
“I wish you wouldn’t stand there staring,” Anders said, “If you have something to say, why don't you just come in here and say it? I’ve never known you to be shy about your hatred, Fenris.”
Fenris bristled. “I have never known you to talk to me like a dog, Anders.”
Anders laughed, “I always talk to you like a dog. You're too busy barking to hear me.”
The elf entered the clinic, looking at the sick and injured people huddled in the corners or stretched out on thin mats across the floor. He stepped over and around them carefully on his way to where Anders sat. “You keep house just like Varric,” Fenris said, “Not a sterile surface to be seen. You call this place a safe haven of healing and salvation? I call it a complete dump.”
Anders, surprisingly, only laughed harder. “I'd say that’s a fair estimate.”
Fenris shifted uncomfortably. He waited for Anders to broach the subject of why he was there, of what more they could possibly have to say to each other, but Anders never did. In many ways, Fenris was grateful for that; he doubted he could have come up with a good enough excuse to be in Darktown. But in some ways Fenris was upset that Anders made no demands of him, that he showed no curiosity at all. That he was so damn indifferent.
“I stand by what I said,” Fenris finally said. For the first time he could remember, he hated the sound of silence. “That you are an Abomination and a monster. But---”
“Oh, good,” Anders said, turning his eyes up to the elf, “I love buts. This should be entertaining.”
“---I believe I went to far by implying---”
“Implying,” Anders interrupted, “Implying what? Oh, that the Circle is too merciful for a monster like me? That I would only find peace at the end of a blade? Think nothing of it, Fenris.”
“---there is a line that I have crossed---,” Fenris continued, but he was interrupted by Anders’ caustic, bitter laughter.
“A line,” the mage spat, “Let me tell you something Fenris. There are two kinds of men in this world. There are men who know nothing but how to hate, and there are men who know nothing but how to love. I wonder which you might be?”
“Do not preach to me of love you self-righteous, hypocritical snake,” Fenris growled, “I wonder how many templars have known your brand of ‘love’. Or do you only love the ones who agree with you?”
“In that, we are the same,” Anders said.
“There is no talking with you,” Fenris said, “I’ve made a mistake in coming here. I thought that, perhaps, we might be able to reach some kind of accord, if not for the sake of one another, then at least for the sake of Hawke. He has expressed some concern to me about the way we treat each other.”
“To me as well,” Anders said, “But he does not know that I licked wine from the small of your back. In fact, no one does.” Anders thought for a moment and chuckled, “Not even you.”
“Shut your mouth, mage,” Fenris seethed, the lyrium tattoos on his body beginning to glow threateningly, illuminating the fine shape of his cheekbones in soft blue.
“Has anyone ever told you how your body arches when you come?,” Anders asked, “I doubt it. But it's awfully sexy. And the little noises you make -- breathy and almost shy -- turned me on.” Anders rose from his chair and stepped closer to Fenris, amber eyes growing darker -- in lust or spite, Fenris couldn't tell. It didn't matter. Anders’ hand was on his neck, warm and gentle, sliding up to cup his jaw. “I hate you,” Anders said, “And I love you. I know plenty about both, Fenris.”
“Get away from me,” Fenris growled, “Don't give me an excuse to crush your heart, monster.”
Anders leaned down close to Fenris' face, his breath warm on his lips. “Do it,” Anders whispered.
Fenris’ growl rumbled through his chest, and his brand flared brighter, brighter -- before dimming. When Anders kissed him, Fenris’ hand did not slam through his body in a gory, horrific punch, but instead locked in his hair and pulled the mage’s mouth tighter.
“I hate you,” Fenris whispered on Anders’ lips, “I love you. You son of a bitch.”
Anders’ hand settled on the small of Fenris’ back. “It’s something else we have in common,” he said, before Fenris was back against -- and inside of -- his mouth and everything began to melt.