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Guilt and Grief

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"Have you seen Alexius yet?"

The Herald's words rang in his ears like an accusation. 'Inquisitor' now, he supposed. They'd spent so long at Haven with Alexius locked in the cells and he had to be moved via a prison cart through the mountains along with other criminals and enemies of the Inquisition, and Dorian hadn't once gone to see him… Guilt twisted like a knife in his gut, making him sick. A man to whom he'd once compared all others, even his own father, and he left him to rot in a dungeon. He heard about the pardon the Inquisitor gave him, and was grateful. Not ideal, but better than death or anything else, now that Tevinter wanted nothing more to do with him. Dorian kept putting off seeing him, making excuses that he had to help the Inquisitor, that there was too much to do, another chess game with Cullen to play, or another drink to be had with Bull.

But the day he received the letter informing him of Felix's death, he knew he couldn't avoid it any longer. He went to visit Alexius, letter in one hand, bottle of expensive Orlesian brandy in the other. He wondered if Alexius knew, if he realized that the letters from Felix stopped coming, and why. Carefully he wound his way from the corner of the tower's library he was so fond of, and descended to the lower part of the castle. Guards patrolled the corridors here, and one stood vigil outside the room that was given to Alexius. Free to come and go to gather research material, but always under watch. It was depressing how far Alexius had fallen from his great estate in Tevinter, where he drank wine from crystal goblets and ate roast duck off silver platters.

"Could you give us some privacy?" he asked the guard. "He's gotten some bad news." Or he was about to. And Dorian would have to be the one to give it to him if that was the case.

The guard thankfully did not ask for any other information, and left without a hassle. Dorian was grateful for that. Perhaps being counted amongst the Inquisitor's closest friends gave him some leeway. He knocked, then let himself in, shutting the door behind him. The room was no larger than a very small walk-in closet, and wouldn't have fit even half his wardrobe back home. A slim bed was pushed up against a wall. There was a nightstand next to it, and a trunk at the end of it. Against the other side was a desk, with barely a foot of space between. A wash basin in the corner sat upon a rickety table, and water pitcher with a wooden cup sat on the desk, along with many piles of books and papers. The chandelier – if one could call the rusty looking thing made of iron a chandelier – at least held quite a few candles which lit the room nicely. Not that there was much to see.

Alexius, looking tired and older than Dorian had ever seen him before, even after the death of his wife, sat at the desk. He looked up, quill in hand, when the door opened, and was staring at Dorian with an unfathomable expression on his face.

Sadness? Disappointment? Disapproval?

Whatever it was, Dorian couldn't maintain eye contact. His face burned with the shame of not coming to see him sooner. Of leaving him in a box like this with a guard at his door that he likely had to ask permission to go and take a piss. It was disgusting, and completely awful that a man like Alexius had been reduced to this. And it was even worse that Dorian was too scared to extend the compassion and comfort that a single visit would've brought sooner. And the silence now? He deserved that.

Luckily, Alexius was a better man than he. He cleared his throat. "Dorian. I… expect you've heard."

"About Felix," Dorian whispered.

"Yes."

"Alexius, I'm so sorry."

He chanced a look up, and Alexius sighed, putting his quill down before turning in his chair to face him fully. Dressed in drab brown clothing, Dorian thought he could've passed for a peasant. Suddenly he felt quite overdressed and arrogant in his silks and velvets, a new outfit gifted to him by the Inquisitor, who seemed to like dressing them all up. Dorian never complained, enjoying the lavish fabric and shiny designs. He should've changed to something more modest, maybe taken off his rings and silver necklace – spoils of a treasure haul from the Western Approach.

"How are you?" Alexius asked, and the question was more of a slap in the face than anything else he could have said.

Dorian lifted a shaking hand, the one holding the brandy. "Drink?"

Alexius nodded. "Please. Sit."

Dorian took the three steps into the room to the end of the bed and sat down, trying not to wince at the discomfort of the mattress. He never wanted to ask the Inquisitor for anything, and considering what Alexius had done – no matter his reason behind it – he might not be inclined to provide extra comforts for him. Still, it wouldn't hurt to try. After all, Alexius had taken care of him for so many years, it was about time he started doing the same.

"I spoke with my father," Dorian said, setting the letter containing the news of Felix's death down, and uncorked the bottle. He glanced around for a cup, and Alexius handed him the one next to his water jug. "…Should've brought another, sorry."

"We can drink from the bottle if you prefer," Alexius said graciously.

Like heathens, Dorian thought, but took a sip before handing it to Alexius.

"What did Halward have to say?" Alexius asked, sipping without even checking the label on the bottle. Also gracious of him, Dorian thought.

They fell into a slightly uneasy conversation which was slowly aided by the passing of the bottle back and forth. Dorian talked about what was going on with the Inquisition, and Alexius let him know what he was researching for them. Mostly new potions and tonics, but also spells, and he informed Dorian that Solas had been to visit on occasion to discuss a few bits of magical theory. Hearing that only made Dorian squirm with even more guilt.

"Dorian, I understand why you didn't come to see me," Alexius said, turning the chair around to face the bed. The lack of space forced their knees together, one of Alexius's between his own. An intimate position, but they'd never had an issue with showing affection before.

"It was wrong of me. I should have… in Haven, before all this. Maker, if they hadn't taken you from the cells when the avalanche happened..."

Alexius put the bottle down, taking Dorian's hands and held them tightly. "They did. So let's not think on what could have been. I've spent too much of my life thinking about…" He took a breath. "What I could've done to change things. And when I tried, I failed."

"It wasn't so much about failing," Dorian said, slightly drunk. He looked up. "It was more like… you did everything you could. You… would have done more. For Felix. He… I'm so sorry, Alexius. I shouldn't have pushed you away. I shouldn't have… After that, and my father and his blood magic and I didn't know what to do…"

"Hush."

Dorian had gone to Alexius to offer him comfort. And now he was in his former mentor's arms, crying against his chest, being held like he was a child. He wept for some time. For his father's discretions against him, the actions that forced him to leave, for the loss of his best friend, for Alexius's fall from grace. Losing people he loved one way or another. For the pain they all endured. He wiped his eyes, feeling foolish.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"Don't," Alexius assured him. "I think you needed that. We needed that."

Dorian looked up through his tears at Alexius's calm expression. He was always strong, even in his grief after his wife died and Felix fell ill. He'd always been there for Dorian, helping him along, guiding him toward the right path. Dorian had wanted to be just like him. And even now, in squalor, Alexius still managed to keep his head up. Later, he would say it was the alcohol that gave him the courage and the idea, but Dorian knew it was simply that he wanted the comfort that Alexius's touch could bring him.

So he kissed him.

He expected Alexius to shove him away, to be disgusted, maybe to tell him never to come back. What he didn't expect was for Alexius to kiss back, to allow Dorian to part his lips and meet his tongue. The arms around him tightened, Alexius sliding forward, pushing Dorian back. The fell to the thin, uncomfortable mattress together, a tangle of limbs in the small bed. Alexius shifted, letting Dorian move atop him, one thigh pressed firmly between his. Dorian gasped into his mouth, rocking his hips, cock hardening with the friction. His head buzzed, a voice somewhere in the back of his mind telling him this might not be the best decision he ever made. But it wouldn't be one he regretted.

And that thought pressed him forward, breaking the kiss only to pull his shirt off, tossing the silken fabric to the floor. He pulled at Alexius's as well, dropping it where it joined his own. Alexius was warm against him, his skin paler, slightly saggy especially around the middle, but Dorian found him beautiful either in spite of or because of it. He stopped thinking and forced himself just to feel. Though he consumed a half a decanter of brandy, it didn't stop his libido, and Alexius's hands on his back stroking his skin, he felt like he was on fire.

"Dorian." A quiet whisper.

Dorian didn't know what to say, just wanted to feel him as he kissed him again, hands sliding over his chest. He broke the kiss, panting, and pressed another kiss to his cheek, his neck. He wanted to show Alexius how much he appreciated him, how much he cared. How sorry he was for everything. He trailed wet kisses down his body, tongue licking at a scar near his stomach. He remembered so long ago the surgery he had after an illness, how worried they were for him. He and Felix took care of him after, bringing him his meals, helping him to take it easy.

The ties on the flimsy linen pants were simple and unknotted easily. Dorian paused just a moment to admire Alexius's cock, firm and hard, nestled against a thatch of silver hair, before he closed his eyes and started to suck. He was well-versed in this, something he'd done many times before with so many others. Others who would ignore him the next day, pretend nothing happened. But Alexius wouldn't do that. He wouldn't treat him as a simple dalliance, a quick tryst at a party or in a dressing room during an intermission of some performance. His hand joined his mouth and soon he was bobbing his head, eliciting soft, quiet moans from Alexius, who kept his hips steady, no doubt not wanting to choke him. But Dorian could handle it, even though this was neither the place nor the time for loud, boisterous sex. This was comfort to be given and taken for two people beyond words in their grief.

He felt Alexius tense, and knew it seconds before he came, swallowing dutifully. Alexius pulled at him and he slithered back up, whining quietly, rocking his hips against Alexius's thigh, grinding his erection against him, searching for more friction. He wouldn't ask for Alexius's mouth, didn't want to force him to give that. Alexius's fingers were nimble at the buttons to his pants, and his hand warm and soft as it slipped inside, pulling him free of his silky smallclothes. No words were needed as Alexius nudged him over, and Dorian rolled to face the wall, palms against the cool stone. Alexius stroked him, breath hot against the back of his neck, soft kisses pressed to his shoulder.

"Dorian," Alexius whispered again.

Dorian whimpered and thrust his hips, fucking Alexius's fist. He slid his own hand down, thumb brushing over the tip of his cock, smearing the precome, helping Alexius use it as a slight lubrication. His fingers brushed Alexius's and he held his hand as Alexius jerked him off. He couldn't ever recall making the tiny, naked noises that escaped his throat now, preferring more dignified and deeper groans to show his appreciation. But he was too vulnerable at the moment to care, and knew that Alexius wouldn't either. Lips and tongue against his shoulder, his neck, a warm soft chest against his back, and he didn't last long, spilling himself over both their hands.

Neither moved for a moment, Dorian breathing hard, head swimming. A more sober part of his brain realized what he'd just done. The other part, the one overcome with grief and guilt, didn't care. He needed this. He needed Alexius to need it, too. And Alexius responded yet again with grace and dignity that Dorian could only hope to have when he reached his mentor's age. Alexius rolled away, Dorian making a quiet noise of protest before he was back with a cloth, wiping him off. Clothing was righted, and the thin blanket pulled up to their chests. Alexius's arm was around him again, and Dorian sniffed.

"All right, my boy?" Alexius whispered.

"Not really. No. Yes. I think." So many thoughts raced through his head, and he couldn't find the voice for them.

Alexius kissed his shoulder. "Sleep now. I'll wake you in an hour."

Dorian nodded, clinging to his hand, and promised himself he would see Alexius in better quarters. It was the least he could do, after all Alexius had done for him. The heavy knot of guilt in his stomach unwound slowly, and he let the alcohol finally take him to unconsciousness.