“I don’t get it,” Anders proclaimed as he draped himself over Karl’s shoulders, interrupting his quiet moment of strategic contemplation.
“I suppose you don’t,” Karl agreed and knocked him on the arm with the black little horse he had been about to move across the checked board.
“It is dull. Dull and old, and you play with Niall, the most insufferable prat in the entire tower.”
Karl considered the piece in his hand. This particular set was definitely on the old side and had not been polished in quite some time and was thus rather dull. “Yes,” he agreed once more. It would not do to lie to Anders, after all.
“Why,” he demanded instead of asking, putting all his weight on Karl’s shoulders in an attempt to shift all his attention from the board and to himself, letting long fingers trace an enticing pattern down Karl’s side.
“Well, sometimes I like some adult company, is all,” Karl said with a smile as he put the piece down and finally turned to look up at him.
“Like I don’t count?”
“Not all the time, no,” Karl chuckled into the crook of Anders’ elbow before pressing a brief kiss against it, “and you are not always around, either.”
“Well I am now, so you don’t need to fumble with that old thing by yourself.”
“Is that an offer to play?”
Karl could practically feel Anders’ disgusted expression behind him. “Not that. I don’t know the rules anyway.”
“I can teach you, and then you will never have to admit to only being able to play svälta räv.”
“I can play Wicked Grace!” Anders protested, forcing Karl to shake his head.
“No, no, you really cannot.”
Anders stormed around the table to sit down in front of him, sullenly pushing the white pieces down. “Fine. Teach me your stupid game if it is so great, then.” Karl had to smile; Anders had come to him for something other than a board game, something he could easily get from many others, and yet he stayed to keep him company rather than go get what he came for elsewhere. Oh, he would like the adult chess rules.
But first the essentials, the pieces and their abilities, placements and basic moves. Karl had to nudge him under the table on occasion to keep his attention; careful pushes with leather-clad feet, and then his hands lingering on Anders’ as he showed him the ways to move the pieces.
“And then, the winner gets to decide who bends who over the chess table. Or work bench. Winner’s pick, really,” he finished with a smug smile as Anders first stared, then blinked.
“I always wondered if he had something stuck up his ass. I never suspected it was you.”
“On occasion,” Karl murmured fondly, bowing his head down to properly watch the pieces as he set them out for a game. “Are you willing to try a game, then?”
Anders nodded. “I have my eye on this staircase. I think it would be quite daring.” Karl simply had to smile at his bravado; if nothing else, at least he believed in his own abilities.
Less than a minute later, there was no longer any cause for smiling.
“Two moves?” Karl demanded, disbelieving. “How could you manage to lose in two moves?”
“Well you said this one,” he pointed accusingly at the king, “is really important, so of course I am going to protect it with these other pieces!” He gestured angrily at the surrounding ones.
Karl massaged his forehead. This was going to be a bit more trying than he had anticipated. “Not like… that. Okay, that was only a practice round. We should… have more of those before we play for tokens.”
Anders pouted. Karl averted his eyes. “We can spice it up,” he offered, keeping his gaze firmly away from the puppy eyes.
“You spice this up how?”
Karl gave his best wicked smile. “Strip chess.”
Not even fifteen minutes later, Anders was chewing at his bottom lip, not deep enough in thought.
“So… does my hair tie count as a piece of clothing?”
“Yes.” Saying no would be too cruel.
Anders slipped out of his robes anyhow, and gave a wicked smile of his own.
When the next white piece fell, he made an elaborate show of removing his one remaining sock with his teeth in an attempt to display the outstanding flexibility he prided himself on.
“Anders, no,” Karl laughed, shaking his head. “I have no idea what you are trying to do, but that is in no way enticing, stop it.”
“Schwah, amfubleflble, fllk,” Anders insisted as Karl’s forehead hit the table, shoulders shaking with laughter, giving an unfortunate passerby a rather telling view of his state of undress.
It was Finn, who stopped to stare at him in absolute horror.
Anders spit the sock out. “Come on, Flora!” He shouted after the mage’s retreating form. “It is not like I am completely naked!”
“No, not Finn,” Karl managed to get out between laughs, “you know he is going to go get someone.”
“You better resign the game then,” Anders tried.
“Oh no, then you will never learn.”
From then on the game was more one of finding out who would lose their nerve first than one of chess; Karl eventually lost a shoe to Anders’ great delight, and finally the white piece that by all accounts should represent Anders’ hair tie fell.
He pulled it out, slowly, shaking his hair in place and smiling in a way that made Karl want to hold him close; hold and press reverenced kisses upon his skin.
“Any new thoughts on resigning?”
Karl felt as if he should close his eyes, but it was a feeling he ignored as it would be such a waste.
“Fine. But this is practice, so no tokens of bending me over a railing, you hear?”
“I think I want a bed anyway,” Anders said as he rose, leaning forwards to tip the king over.
And was distracted by Greagoir staring at him.
“What in all of Thedas…” he started.
“Chess,” Anders hurried as Karl buried his face in his hands. “I won.”
For once, Greagoir backed off and away. His duty was to protect the innocent, after all, and no such people appeared to be present here.
Karl ducked down to lift Anders’ robes off the floor, shaking his head as he handed them to him. “Please put these on so we can get away before Wynne shows up.”
They managed the journey through the hallways without running into her or anyone that sought to disturb them, but finding great difficulty in keeping their distance from one another, urging them to turn any deserted alcove into a place for quick but deep kisses.
Karl would have dearly wished for a door to press Anders up against, but guiding him behind screens would have to do.
“If we had played for tokens,” Anders whispered between kisses, “what would you have asked for? Electricity? Dancing?”
“Something very, very great,” Karl assured against his mouth before moving downwards to trail kisses across his neck. “For you to lay down for me, to be silent and still, and…” not show him that he was something so dangerous as loved, “…let me welcome you.”
Anders sighed. “We should have played for it, then.”
Karl let their lips meet once more before he spoke. “I could give you a sample token. It is only fair, to go with the practice round I would have won.”
Anders nodded, and let himself be led to and lowered on the bed, robes carefully removed in the process.
He had time for those kisses of reverence, then; pressed all over, tongue silently tracing old scars in attempts to remove at least some of the hurt, succeeding in bringing forth soft sighs and later, with the assistance of hands, moans.
No words left either’s lips, only signs and sounds of encouragement, of wordless yes upon yes. Tongues and lips revisiting old places to create pleasure anew and call forth the sounds of such, for bodies to revel in physical joy.
No proper words at all until a soft whisper of Anders was uttered as Karl spent himself inside him, and then a response.
“That name is… not really my own,” he said, eyes distant and accent close; rough, and harsh around the words of their adopted language.
“I know,” Karl sighed against the crook of his neck, longing for something out of his reach.
“…Vidar. Just… just correcting you, is all.”
Anders - Vidar - avoided his eyes for a moment, his own filled with uncertainty. Karl let his fingers trace his jawline, brush against the faint stubble, then went in for an open-eyed kiss that lured his gaze back to him.