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Dorian was furious. Embarrassed. Incredulous. Heart-broken. But mostly furious. It had started simply enough, he and the Inquisitor had been enjoying a game of chess and a bottle of Antivan brandy when Dorian’s world had come screeching to a halt.

“So Bull isn’t having any after effect from the Saar-Qamek?”

“Excuse me?”

“Oh, did I say it wrong? That is the name isn’t it? The poison the assassins used. I thought Bull said…” The Inquisitor’s voice dropped off as she finally looked up from the pieces on the table before them to see the confusion in Dorian’s eyes. Her expression dulled. “He didn’t tell you did he?”

Dorian flinched at the look of, oh Maker, was that pity that he saw in the Inquisitor’s eye? Fasta vass, he was an Altus of House Pavus, for Andraste’s sake. People simply did not look at him with pity for any reason. Dorian forced a lightness into his voice that he certainly didn’t feel, “I’m afraid you’ll have to be a tad more specific Evelyn, the number of things The Iron Bull doesn’t tell me could fill this room.”

By the time the Inquisitor had finished telling her tale of the Ben-Hassrath’s revenge against Bull Dorian was trembling with suppressed anger, both at his lover and at his own stupidity. He’d actually believed the oaf when he’d said the Ben-Hassrath had no interest in him. He’d actually BELIEVED. It was a testament to his years of dealing with Tevinter society that his voice remained steady and smooth. “If you’ll excuse me dearest, I believe the night has caught up with me.”

 

 

“You ready to tell me what crawled up your ass ‘Vint?”

Dorian started, his fingers curling around the stone railing that enclosed the narrow balcony off Liliana’s rookery. He shouldn’t have been surprised to hear Bull’s voice. Dorian had managed to avoid the hulking warrior for the last three days by retreating to his rooms, only emerging once it was late enough for the keep to have gone quiet for the night. It only figured his lover would seek him out at some point. “Elegant as always Bull.”

“Eh, just figured I should see if you were ready to get over this snit, or at least let me know what it was about.”

Unfortunately, three days apparently wasn't enough for Dorian to figure out how to approach this conversation. Somewhere during that time the intense anger he’d felt when speaking to Evelyn had faded to quiet hurt, but still he wasn’t sure what to say to his lover. A small part of Dorian found himself wishing that they had been in Tevinter where no conversation would have been necessary. Where it wouldn’t have been important enough to seek out a conversation.

“I’ll take that as a no.” Bull’s words cut through Dorian’s thoughts as he heard the rookery door open. “You know where to find me when you want to…”

“What are we doing Bull?” Dorian found himself spitting out in a rush. It was somehow not at all what he’d been meaning to ask and the only thing that really mattered. Turning to look at his lover he realized Bull looked as tired as Dorian felt. His eye was puffy from lack of sleep, the eyepatch covering the scar slightly askew, the shadow of whiskers on his chin longer than normal, and Dorian felt his own expression soften in response. He resisted the urge to reach out for the warrior, but barely.

“That what this is about ‘Vint?” The Bull’s words were gentle, the hint of a smile crossing his face even though Dorian could still read the wariness in his eye. “I thought we’d covered this ground already. It is whatever you need it to be.”

“But what do YOU want it to be Bull?” The confused look on the Qunari’s face would have been amusing if it hadn’t been so damn sad. “You always want to know if I trust you, but what I’m asking now is do you trust me.”

“Of course I do, why would you ask…”

“Oh, I don’t know Amatus,” Dorian hated that his voice broke on the word. Drawing a deep breath before continuing Dorian was surprised to find his anger wasn’t as far gone as he had believed. His next words were bitter. “Possibly because you haven’t deemed it important enough to tell me that your life was threatened by not one but two assassins right here in Skyhold and that I only found out about it because Evelyn THOUGHT I ALREADY KNEW.”

There was no mistaking Bull’s wince, nor his deeply indrawn breath, and Dorian could practically hear the gears working in Bull’s brain before he even started speaking. “Well, see, about that…”

“Yes, about THAT?!” Dorian growled, his anger finding its stride. “Or, perhaps you’d prefer to explain to me why Krem was in my library two weeks ago stammering out his thanks for how that entire debacle with Gatt went down. Do you know how embarrassing it was to have to tell him I’d had nothing to do with it? Oh, not that I didn’t care, or wouldn’t have told you the same thing, but you didn’t even ask.”

“Dorian,” Bull started, stumbling to a stop as a frown marred his face. “It’s not that I…Krem just assumed…”

“Don’t put this on Krem. I know that being declared Tal-Vashoth has changed things,” Dorian countered, Bull flinching despite the care Dorian put into his words, “I don’t pretend to understand. But I want to.”

“There’s nothing to understand Dorian,” the Bull stated flatly. Dorian could see the minute Bull decided to shut him out, former spy’s expression shuttering. “It is what it is.”

“It is what it is? IT IS WHAT IT IS?” Dorian sputtered, his anger rising in response to his lover’s denial. “Do you really expect me to believe that? Do you think I don’t know that you don’t sleep at night? That you lay next to me with your heart racing and your hand twitching like you expect someone to come bursting through the door at any minute? Which knowing what I know now, might be true. That I haven’t seen a real smile from you in weeks. Vishante kaffas. You demand totally honesty from me, but you give me evasion and half-truths.”

Bull straightened. “I’ve never lied to you Dorian.”

And that Dorian supposed, was that. It’s not like he thought he and Bull would be walking off into the sunset together but he had believed they at least had had SOMETHING between them. He had TRUSTED Bull, had been honest with Bull when that whole travesty with his father went down. He had swallowed his damn pride along with his sense of privacy and told Bull everything, and now he was being told what? Don’t worry about it? That it wasn’t his concern?

Dorian had to clear his throat a couple of times to speak past where his heart had lodged. With a shake of his head he finally whispered, “I’m done Bull. I was wrong. This, this just isn’t working.”

“Dorian…”

Even as he pushed past Bull to escape back into the rookery, Dorian admitted to himself he could have still been convinced to listen to what Bull had to say. That is, until he heard, “it was fun while it lasted.”