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Tension

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I: Healing

 

 

The door to his clinic swung open and across the threshold was she, clad in silver-blue robes, her brown hair tied in a loose low ponytail. As she walked forward towards him, Anders felt his breath catching. A corner of her lips was lifted and her blue eyes glinted with an innocent maleficence. She knew, Anders realized, what feelings she incited in him and, no matter how often he begged her to, she had no intention to stop.

“Had I known you’d be uneasy, I wouldn’t have come,” Hawke half-joked.

“You’re lying,” Anders accused.

Hawke sighed and shrugged. “You’ve busted me again. But really, can you blame me for trying to lighten up the mood? You’ve been all dark and brooding around me ever since the Deep Roads.” She gave him a look of exaggerated hurt. “You didn’t even come to see my new place!”

Her words drove guilt right into Anders’s heart. The Deep Roads… “I’m sorry, Hawke.”

She blew the hairs in front of her face and harrumphed. “You weren’t sorry back then.”

Unbidden, images came to his mind; images of Eleanor Hawke, sitting by the fire, staying vigilant while the others slept. Anders felt his insides churning as he remembered her body, just lightly grazing his. Some of his hair had escaped its bindings and she tucked it back behind his ear, leaning forward so that she could place her lips by his ear, whispering “I can think of something that will help you sleep”. Where her breath touched, his skin prickled; her hands moved to his shoulders and she looked at him. She was biting into her lower lip and her eyes were so wide, so tentative…

Anders shook his head, hoping it would shake the memories off his mind as well. “You, lady, are very evil.”

“Please. If I didn’t know you enjoyed this as much as I do, I wouldn’t do it.”

Her words were, unfortunately, true. That she kept on showing interest in him, flirting with him, teasing him even though he told her it was best she kept her distance… Even though Justice disagreed, Anders couldn’t help but like it. It made him tense, yes, and frustrated as well, but deep down, he didn’t want her to stop – he just wanted to give in.

But with Justice… he couldn’t give in. He knew he would end up breaking her heart and the pain the thought of it alone caused him was reason enough for him to tell her to stop.

“Really, Hawke, why are you here?”

“Oh, that.” Her tone was flippant. “I have been studying.”

Anders frowned. “You came here to tell me you’ve been studying?”

Hawke smiled. She was a very beautiful woman but somehow, she was even more so when she smiled. “I’ve been studying Spirit Healing techniques lately. Figured they’d come in handy sooner or later. So… if the next patient doesn’t have something overcomplicated… Can I try to heal them?” asked an eager Hawke.

“You… want to try healing?”

Given how many times they had needed healing in combat, Anders wagered Hawke was probably right. Still, to let her try on one of his patients… “I don’t know, Hawke.”

“But here I have you… And who better to correct me if I’m doing something wrong?” She was almost pleading, with her lips in a pout and looking at him from under her lashes. “You’ll teach me, Anders. I know you will.”

“You’re always so awfully certain of everything, Hawke.”

“Yes. Makes it harder to refuse, doesn’t it?”

Anders sighed. “Fine - but only if the patient has something minor I know you won’t screw up.”

Her eyes shone with excitement and she threw him a happy, wide smile. She was such a pretty thing and sometimes she could look so deceitfully innocent… Anders wished he could pin her to the wall and kiss her just to wipe that smile off her face.

Lucky for him, someone knocked on the door of the clinic. A worried elven woman with a feverish kid by her side; then came a large group, concerned about a disease that was spreading in the house where they lived like cramped ants. More people came, until finally, a kid with a broken arm showed up. It had happened recently, so there were no complications to speak of.

Anders called Hawke forward. When in the battlefield, he had seen her heal a wound once in a while, but always uncontrollably. That she was seeking practice was probably good, as it would keep her from exhausting herself in some of the dire situation she often found herself in.

He was behind her, not close enough to touch but close enough to feel the heat of her body. “Now, you look at the wound, touch it, see what’s broken. Can you see it?” Hawke nodded.

“It’s a bone. That’s why the arm is so swollen.”

“Correct. Now, you use your magic to make it whole again.”

Hawke closed her eyes. Her hands hovered above the broken arm, emanating a slightly blue light. She frowned and, for a moment, the blue light was gone. “Focus, Eleanor,” Anders whispered on her ear. “Picture the bone as mended. Here, I’ll guide you.”

She grimaced and Anders could tell she was biting back some sort of sly response. She remained quiet, however, and did as he had told her. His hands occasionally brushed hers while he was guiding her and his heart clenched every time it happened.

“There it is.” Anders held Hawke’s hands, stopping them. “Now, mend it.”

Hawke’s lids were slammed shut and her forehead and nose were wrinkled. A wave of energy traveled from her hands to the arm and she fell back against Anders, her body almost completely limp. Anders held her by the waist, steadying Hawke’s balance. She was flushed and breathing heavily. “So, how did I do?” she asked.

Anders moved to inspect his patient’s arm. Even though the skin was still purple, the bone was fully healed. “You did well, Hawke,” he told her. “You used more magic than what would normally be required, but that... Only practice makes that perfect.”

The rest of the day continued with Anders treating his patients while Hawke watched over his shoulder, inspecting everything he did. At first, it was disconcerting to have her there, but as the way went on and the number of patients waned, Anders grew more and more accustomed to her constant scrutiny. She even tried her hand at healing some other minor injuries that showed up.

Time went by so fast whenever he was with her… Anders only noticed it was already dark when Hawke closed the clinic’s door behind the last patients. She was visibly exhausted. “Healing is… tiring,” she confessed while taking a hand to her forehead as though to take her temperature.

“Until you get used to it, yes,” said Anders.

“I’m good at getting used to things,” she playfully noted. “Except for rejection; I just can’t get used to rejection.”

He raised a brow. “Rejection? Who’s been rejecting you?”

“Why, you of course,” Hawke said. Her tone wasn’t accusing or hurtful. It was neutral, as though she just wanted to state a fact. But no matter how flat her voice was, her words still stung. True, Anders had rejected her advances, but it was just because he wanted to protect her. Her advances, yes, he had rejected those, but her? He hadn’t rejected her. Anders wasn’t even sure he could.

“Don’t say that,” Anders pleaded.

“No?” she moved towards him. “Then why don’t you want me?”

“You know it’s not that.”

She stopped when she was just a mere step away. “I’m not sure I know.”

“Hawke-”

“Why aren’t you calling me Eleanor?” She pouted. “You did it when you told me to focus. And I like it when you call me by my first name.”

He liked it too. But to do it was to invite proximity. He had let it slip before, hoping that calling her by her first name would force her to focus.

Maker, he was trying to convince himself – or rather, Justice was trying to convince him getting involved with Eleanor Hawke was a bad idea - again. Obsessed, a voice in his head said. What you feel for her is a dangerous obsession.

She placed a hand on the side of his face. Her touch was warm, so warm, like her voice… “Anders-”

He moved her hand away, but did not let go of it. “I can’t let you do that.”

“But I want you to. And I know you want the same.”

It’s an obsession… All you want is to have something beautiful which you can break later – and who better than her?

Anders couldn’t help himself anymore. Justice raged, tried to take over, but for the moment it took for Anders to put his hands on Hawke’s hips, he didn’t pay any attention to him. He drew her close so that her chest was pressing against his. Her hands went to his hair; Anders hissed when her nails dug into his scalp.

His chest was tight when she bit into his neck. He could feel she, too, was tense with blind, relentless desire. Anders did not know why she wanted him, or all people. Hawke could have anyone else she wanted, and yet… She was here, with him.

She then planted a kiss on the edge of his jaw, then another and another. With each kiss, Hawke’s lips moved dangerously towards his. He wanted that kiss to happen. He wanted her, only her, and no one else in the world. Hawke was just… something else. There was no other way to put it. And for that, Anders wanted to forget everything and just give in. But Justice was there, angry, reminding him he would only hurt her.

And the thought of seeing her get hurt just because he was obsessed with her… Anders could not bear it. Which is why, when her lips were nothing but a hair’s breadth apart from his, he pushed her away. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.

“I’ve told you. You can hurt me.” She edged closer towards him again.

“Hawke, please. Stop.”

And, begrudgingly, she did. A flush rose to her cheeks as she stepped back. “I’ll leave you alone, then,” she whispered, and her tone was almost bashful. She turned her back and walked out of the clinic, leaving nothing but thick, heavy tension behind her.

And for that night and the ones that followed, Anders was left with nothing but that cursed tension to keep him company.